|Stuff car phone components in a bag and you have a hand-portable cellphone!|
Cell phones were car phones. There was a handset inside the car with a transmitter/receiver mounted in the trunk. Your car's electrical system supplied 12 volts to run the thing. Was that good enough? For the first couple years it was, until the need for portability arose and all the components were stuffed into a bag... handset, transceiver, antenna and a 12-volt lead-acid battery. It was big and heavy, but you could carry it anywhere. Plus, it operated at 3 Watts, five times the power of portable handsets. Those bag phones would operate even in very low signal areas (and, face it, in 1991, there were a LOT of low signal areas).
Starting with the venerable Motorola DynaTAC, (was that a great phone, or what?) there were generation after generation of "brick" phones, that gradually became smaller until they became what we now describe as "candy bar" phones. They got smaller, added features, lost the external antenna and got made over with fancy color screens. But it was still the same basic design (reading from top to bottom):
The Second Revolution: The Clamshell Phone
|Motorola StarTAC, 1996|
Yes, they were mostly analog models in the US and, yes, you would have to buy several batteries to get through a whole day of usage. But the clamshell put Motorola at the top of the industrial design market for cellphones. The ultimate expression of that was the beloved - and later reviled - Motorola RAZR.
The Third Revolution: iPhone
|Apple iPhone, 2007|
The longer-term effects of the iPhone have been to breed another classification of device: the tablet computer, (re)introduced as the iPad, which is little more than a big-screen iPhone.
Looking Back From 2011
Cellular networks were launched in 1983 and started to come into their own in the early 1990s with the DynaTAC and other portable devices.
It was nearly 10 years before the StarTAC revolutionized handset design and another 10 years before the announcement of the iPhone. In the meantime, cellular networks matured, went through three generations themselves. If you're extrapolating the changes in phones, look for things to change significantly... in 2017