From Feature Phone to Future Phone – the Vodafone Journey Continues


Mobile phones have truly come a long way, from the feature phone legacy to the super feature rich smartphones – today we are moving towards the future phones and all today’s smartphones are no longer luxury but necessity. The ability to keep in touch with family, friends, colleagues, access to emails, stay connected with friends on social media are only few of the reasons for the role mobile plays in our lives.

Today Mobile phones serve multiple purposes like the bank-accessible anytime, anywhere, automate emergency messages, promote and support social developments, Virtual retail stores, Music library, data storage, and many more.

Life cannot be imagined without mobile phones today. Ever wondered how was the world functioning 30 years prior when mobile phones were not there?

Vodafone came into existence 30 years back where the first mobile call in UK was made on the newly launched Vodafone network on January 1, 1985. Vodafone UK celebrates 30 years of mobile telephony globally on Jan 1. Here are some of the facts that have made this journey exciting.


30 years of mobile firsts

  1. The first commercial mobile phone call

Britain’s first commercial mobile phone call was made at midnight on 1 January 1985 on the newly-launched Vodafone network. It was made by Michael Harrison at Parliament Square.

  1. The first mobile image

Philippe Kahn, a technology innovator, shared the first mobile photo in 1997, sending pictures of his newborn daughter from the maternity ward.

  1. The first “Merry Christmas” by text message

Twenty-two years ago, Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old software programmer from Reading, sent the first text message, wishing his friend Richard Jarvis, who worked at Vodafone, a “Merry Christmas”.

  1. Mobile gaming

The first game on a mobile phone was Tetris on the Hagenuk MT-2000, created in 1994.

  1. QR codes

The first Quick Response (QR) code was created in 1994. Scanning the code directs people to websites, often with special offers.

  1. Mobiles get musical

The first mobile phone with MP3 music capabilities was launched in 2000.

  1. The first mobile phone network in a rucksack

The Vodafone Foundation Instant Network Mini – an 11kg mobile network in a rucksack – was launched in 2014. The network can be set up in less than 10 minutes and can be deployed to provide communications following a disaster situation or humanitarian crisis.

  1. The first call from the top of Everest

British explorer Daniel Hughes made the first-ever video call from Everest on 19 May 2013, reaching the dizzy heights of mobile innovation.

  1. The first group selfie at the Oscars

Ellen DeGeneres took the first selfie at the Oscars, making it the most retweeted image on Twitter.

  1. The first mobile phone in a blockbuster movie

The first popular Hollywood film to feature a mobile phone was Lethal Weapon in March 1987. Danny Glover carried a transportable mobile device.

  1. Mobile language – LOL!

Text speak has become common place in the English language. Whether you love or h8 it, it is becoming an essential form of communication.

  1. Text donations

Vodafone first introduced its text donations service, JustTextGiving, in May 2011. JustTextGiving is a partnership between the Vodafone Foundation, Vodafone UK and Just Giving.

  1. The first mobile phone without an antenna

Launched in 1998, the Nokia 8810 was the first commercial mobile phone to feature an internal antenna.

  1. Mobile services under the English Channel

From January 2014, mobile and internet coverage were made available in the Channel Tunnel in both directions.

  1. The first augmented reality

The first augmented reality app was launched for the iPhone in 2009 by the Metro Paris Subway.

  1. The first Bluetooth headset

The first-ever Bluetooth headset was shipped in 2000, enabling people to speak on their mobile phones without wires or without needing to hold the device.

  1. The future of mobile charging: lose the wires

The first remote charging technology was launched by Nokia in 2012

  1. The first downloadable ringtone

The first ringtone was downloaded in Finland in 1998, paving the way for iconic tones such as ‘Crazy Frog’.

  1. The first mobile voicemail

Voicemail was added to mobile phones for the first time in 1986, allowing people to access voice messages while on the move.


TelecomDrive Bureau covers the latest developments happening in the space of communications, devices and innovations in targeted geographies of India, SAARC, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa regions.TelecomDrive Bureau is headed by Zia Askari. He can be reached at