The rapid rise of the smartphone

Billions of people the world over couldn’t imagine life without a smartphone. It’s been 20 years since the first such gadget hit the markets. Here are some quirky facts and developments you might not have known.

Impressive dinosaur

This was what the world’s first smartphone looked like. The Nokia 9000 Communicator had the features of a PC, complete with office software, Web browsing and fax function. Sales started on August 15, 1996. It cost around 1400 euros – or around half that with a contract.Billions of people in the world all over couldn’t imagine life without a smartphone. It’s been 20 years since the first such gadget hit the markets. Here are some quirky facts and developments you might not have known.

 

Lightweight, but powerful

Modern-day smartphones have come a long way. But the fact that they weigh a lot less than earlier models does not mean they can do less. In fact, today’s devices have millions of times the computing power of the computers used by Apollo 11 to land on the moon.

 

Unexpected side effect

There are tons of apps to ensure smartphone users never have a dull moment, but some pieces of code can also be extremely useful for authorities. Indonesians are using donated devices to detect illegal logging through software that listens for the sound of chainsaws and then triggers an alert.

 

Phone turned weatherman

Researchers from networking group OpenSignal have discovered that the sensors in Android-based smartphones designed to measure battery temperature, light intensity and pressure can also be used to come up with really accurate weather reports.

 

Pee power

Scientists from Bristol, England, have developed a fuel cell that can generate power for smartphones “from a single visit to the toilet.” You can get three hours of phone calls from 600 milliliters of urine, with bacteria turning the liquid into electricity. On a somewhat related note, close to 100,000 smartphones are dropped into toilets annually by Britons alone.

 

Roaming about

Celine Aarons from South Florida made headlines a couple of years ago when she received the biggest ever smartphone bill. She had to pay $201,000 (180,000 euros) after a message texting marathon while on holiday in Canada. Ever heard of roaming charges?

 

Irreversible success story

There are now about 1.9 billion smartphone users globally, and that number is still rising steadily. Worldwide 349 million units were sold in the first quarter of this year alone, marking a 3.9 percent increase over 2015. The hottest-selling phone was Samsung’s Galaxy S7, with Apple’s iPhone 6s and 6s Plus coming in a close second.

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