By 15 July 2010 | Categories: news


When we look back at the old days of mobile phone usage, we fondly remember icons like the Nokia 3310 or the introduction of the first polyphonic ring tones and colour displays.

Pondering on this we thought we’d take a look at the top 5 best-selling mobile phones in the world, and here they are.

1st Place – Nokia 1100

In first place is the venerable Nokia 1100, a basic but extremely hardy phone. Seeing it at the top of the list is hardly surprising as Nokia originally developed it for users in developing countries who wouldn’t require advanced features apart from calling and text messaging.

As proof that this strategy was successful the one billionth Nokia phone sold in the world was a Nokia 1100 purchased in Nigeria.

Since its launch in late 2003, the Nokia 1100 has sold over 200 million units worldwide, making it the best-selling mobile phone to this date. It even outsold the mighty PlayStation 2 (138 million).

The Nokia 1100 features a 96 x 65 monochrome display, can make calls, send SMS’s, set reminders and alarms and… that’s about it. No camera’s, no colour displays, no video playback, no mobile browsing, just a simple telephone, proving that the simplest of devices is also the best-selling ones.

2nd Place – Nokia 3210/3310

The iconic Nokia 3210 and 3310 handsets shares the second place prize, and chances are strong that you owned one of them at some point in your life.

The Nokia 3210 was released in 1999 and sold a total of 160 million units worldwide becoming one of the most popular phones in history. It was also the first phone to feature T9 (predictive text) and shipped with three games preinstalled, the legendary Snake, Memory and Rotation.

The Nokia 3310 was released in the fourth quarter of 2000 as the replacement for the Nokia 3210, selling a total of 126 million units.

Arguably one of the most recognizable phones in the world, the 3310 featured many advanced technologies for its day such as voice dialling, Nokia network monitor, a calculator, a stop watch and interchangeable covers. It had four games preinstalled, Snake II, Pairs II, Space Impact and Bantumi.

It was especially popular thanks to its long SMS messages, being able to support up to 459 characters, three times that of a standard SMS at the time.

3rd Place – Motorola RAZR V3

The Motorola RAZR V3 grabs the 3rd spot with a remarkable 130 million units sold to date. The clamshell phone was introduced in the fourth quarter of 2004 and its impressive sales were driven mainly by its sleek, thin profile and VGA camera (big selling points at the time).

Initially marketed as a fashion phone, the handsets price was lowered a year after release sparking some 50 million sales by July 2006, cementing it as the most popular clamshell phone in history.

Apart from being the thinnest phone of its time, the RAZR also featured an electroluminescent keypad, a mini USB port and an all-aluminium body.

The popular handheld even saved a man’s life once. The unnamed man was happily mowing his lawn one afternoon when he suddenly felt like he’d been punched hard in the chest, right where he had clipped his RAZR.

He removed the phone to inspect it for damage, and lo’ and behold, a bullet fell into his lap. It turned out the phone, clipped directly over his heart had saved him from a stray bullet coming from a nearby forest. 

4th Place – LG Chocolate (KG800 and VX8500)

The LG Chocolate, released in May 2006 comes in at 4th place with 15 million units sold worldwide. The phone was marketed differently in the United States and Canada (VX8500), compared to the rest of the world (KG800).

With a sliding design the phone featured heat-sensitive touch buttons which activated upon sliding the phone open.

A TFT colour display with 262 144 colours, a 1.3 MP camera with video playback, 128 MB memory and a built-in MP3 player ensured that the LG Chocolate series had a lot of appeal.

It was also toted as one of the best looking phones of its time with its sleek glossy metal design. There are some slight differences between the VX8500 and KG800, the most obvious being that the American version featured a circular button arrangement compared to the square design of the KG800.

5th Place – BlackBerry Pearl

Rounding off our list of top 5 best-selling mobile phones is the BlackBerry Pearl, selling 10 million units globally. Developed by Research In Motion and released in September 2006, the Pearl was one of the first true smartphones.

The BlackBerry Pearl is the only phone on this list with features you would expect to find in modern mobiles.

It featured a 2.0 megapixel camera with flash and 5x digital zoom as well as a media player supporting MP3, MIDI and WAV sound formats among others.

It is also capable of video playback in either MPEG-4 or H.263 and features Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi access and an HTML web browser with email integration.

The success of later BlackBerry phones is a testament to the ground breaking Pearl.

A few worthy mentions that didn’t make it on the list includes the Samsung E250 with 10 million units sold, the Nokia N95 with 7 million units and the original Apple iPhone with 6.1 million units sold.


Magazine Online is South Africa's leading magazine for tech product reviews, tech news, videos, tech specs and gadgets.
Start reading now >
Download latest issue

Have Your Say

What new tech or developments are you most anticipating this year?
New smartphone announcements (23 votes)
Technological breakthroughs (19 votes)
Launch of new consoles, or notebooks (10 votes)
Innovative Artificial Intelligence solutions (16 votes)
Biotechnology or medical advancements (21 votes)
Better business applications (102 votes)