The mobile phone and me – 20 years on

Twenty years ago this month, I got my first mobile phone. It was a work phone: a classic early 1990s brick-like Nokia.

Little did I imagine that one day I’d be able to watch TV programmes, listen to music, get directions and buy things on a phone small enough to slip in a pocket.

I still remember getting my first text message, in 1997. (From my friend Andrew Baud – the phone said I had a message, but I couldn’t hear any voicemails. Andrew explained all…)

Those early Nokia phones were wonderfully simple to use. (I had a succession of Nokia models for the first 13 years of my mobile life.) But as handsets became more sophisticated, Nokia lost its way. It was criticised for failing to make ‘clamshell’ phones when they were hugely fashionable 10 years ago. That was a minor mis-step compared with the Finnish giant’s disastrously complacent response to the rise of the iPhone and Android over the past five years.

Nokia has one last chance to return to its glory days, with its new Windows Phone 8 powered Lumia phones. They look wonderful, as does the elegant new Windows Phone operating system. I’m looking forward to putting a Lumia through its paces in the coming months – and comparing it to the new Apple iPhone 5.

The iPhone – the phone that really did change everything. I got my first glimpse of one when I was running PR for first direct, Britain’s favourite bank, five years ago this month. (I remember being especially wowed by seeing ‘pinch to zoom’ in action.) first direct saw how influential Apple’s new baby would be. It pioneered iPhone banking, adapting its internet banking website for the smaller screen before Apple even launched it in Britain.

I got my first iPhone a year later. I was driven into Apple’s arms by the frustration of trying to find directions on a Blackberry and Sony Ericsson K800i. As the ads said, it really did change everything.