Throwback Thursday: do you remember the Nokia 1610 from 1996?


Today, we often take amazing smartphones and high speed networks for granted, but it’s interesting to look back occasionally on just how far the tech industry has come. Mobile phones in particular have changed beyond all recognition, advancing from the huge bricks of yesteryear to the very powerful machines that can run all kinds of apps, games and entertainment.


In this Throwback Thursday article we take a brief trip down memory lane and reminisce about one of the most popular mobiles of the mid-1990s, the Nokia 1610.

Fondly remembering the Nokia 1610

The Nokia 1610 was a very popular mobile phone model manufactured by Nokia, when it was growing into an industry giant. The first version of the 1610 was released in 1996, and complemented the Nokia 2110 business-oriented model, but had much fewer features.

There wasn’t a colour display on this early mobile phone, but a monochrome display that could show just two rows of text at once. The manual didn’t even mention the ability to send SMS messages, as it was a later updated version called the 1610 Plus which added that feature. Imagine – a phone that could send an SMS! It was quite revolutionary at the time…

Back in those days, mobile phones usually had external aerials, making them quite uncomfortable to slip into a pocket (plus the fact that they were too big) – the Nokia 1610 was no different with its rigid antenna, but there was also a groove inside the battery compartment to attach a pull-out type antenna.

And you can forget the tiny nano-SIMs that we use today – the 1610 used the old credit-card sized SIM cards, all powered by a NiMH battery with a capacity of just 600 mAh. However, a single charge was sufficient to power the phone in standby mode for over a week (200 hours is the official figure).

Your first phone?

Many people will remember the Nokia 1610 as their very first mobile phone. It was in fact Nokia’s second budget digital phone, after the Nokia 2010. It was basically the first stylish phone that was specifically engineered for the consumer market.

The 1610 helped change the mobile from just a yuppie toy into a popular consumer product, but when it was launched in 1996, only 10% of the UK population had a mobile phone – the same figure that had a landline phone in the 1960s….

Nokia 1610 Plain

Here are the specifications of the Nokia 1610:

  • Date launched: 1996
  • Network: GSM 900 MHz /PCN 1800 MHz
  • Form: Candy bar
  • Size: 57 (w) x 1690 (h) x 28 (d) mm
  • Weight: 255 g
  • Can you use it today: Yes

We are reliably informed that the Nokia 1610 does in fact still work on today’s networks, however we don’t have one to hand to validate that claim. The 1610 was a landmark device that really helped to popularise mobile phones in the UK and other markets where it was available.

It might seem rather old hat today, but at the time it was a cutting edge piece of technology.

Did you own a Nokia 1610? What other old-school mobiles or other gadgets do you remember fondly? As always, let us know in the comments below.


1 Comment

  1. My 1st phone was the daddy of this one the Nokia 101
    With the high capacity battery the bloomin thing would go forever
    I’ve still got it and just for the heck of it last year charged it up and it STILL holds a decent charge