It seems like camera phones have been around forever, but there was a time when the most exciting thing you could do on a phone was play games. Snake or or replace the standard antenna with a flashing antenna. In a 20-year-old video that Shakira recently posted on Instagram of the first time she saw such a phone, the hips don’t lie The singer looks positively amazed that such a small device can take a photo – while recording video on its own.
The first commercial camera phone was unsurprisingly by a Japanese brand, called Kyocera. Launched in May 1999, it featured a 110,000 pixel front camera and could store a maximum of 20 JPEG photos, which could be shared via email. In June 2002 Sony launched the Sony Ericsson T68i and Nokia launched the Nokia 7650, but you could only send pictures to certain networks, they were extremely expensive and you had to pay an additional monthly fee to send picture messages.
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Yet 20 years ago the idea that a phone could take photos and videos was a revelation. In the video posted by Shakira (below), this new technology is described as a dangerous tool. Shakira can also be heard saying, “Thank God it’s not available in America, can you imagine the paparazzi?”
Of course, soon after the video was made, smartphones with cameras became the norm, but it wasn’t until the first iPhone was released in 2007 that this technology became the norm.
Steve Jobs completely changed the way we use smartphones; the iPhone was the first fully touchscreen phone with a front and rear camera, and was described as a “pocket computer”. Flash forward 15 years and smartphones like the Google Pixel 6a (opens in a new tab)iPhone 13 Pro (opens in a new tab) and Samsung Galaxy S22 (opens in a new tab) are now made with multiple cameras, 200MP sensors and even different shooting modes such as panorama, wide angle and night photography.
It’s been 20 years since video of Shakira’s reaction to the camera phone was taken and in that time we’ve seen the cameras get smaller and smaller – and now they’re getting bigger again with better cameras , faster processors, new generations of high-speed connections and they are much cheaper than before. It’s hard to imagine life without a camera in your pocket at all times, but videos like this are an amazing reminder of how far we’ve come.