The strange world of Nokia with Techformative

Techforrmative YouTube channnel

Slate phones were almost unheard of until Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007. This started a revolution in the tech industry where keypad and QWERTY phones instantly became a thing of the past, and slate phones are all the rage. In other words, the phone industry we know today wasn’t all that sleek, monotonous, and boring until the first iPhone. In fact, before 2007, we are being served with phones that are literally in all shapes and sizes with Nokia Corporation being one of the biggest contributors.

In the background, there is a non-stop experimentation of what the future cellphone form factor would look like. This is not a time for being boring, and typical. Nokia almost had the world’s first multi-touch touchscreen phone in 2004 (probably also the most expensive), three years before the first iPhone came out, if not for its scared management who thought it would flop. A testament to how competitive the design department was working during the time. This clamor for fresh ideas resulted in some of the weirdest, quirkiest, and arguably, ugliest phones to ever exist.

A US-based YouTube channel called Techformative has a small albeit ever-growing collection of released and unreleased prototype phones from different phone brands. But what stood out to me (obviously) is his collection of Nokia phones. From Nokia 7280 (AKA Lipstick phone) to N-Gages, to the weird Nokia 6800, to the awkward and arguably ugly Nokia 3650, and some Nokia prototypes like the Nokia N8 and Nokia Vela, Techformative gave us complete access to his Nokia collection.

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The Techformative YouTube channel has amassed over 12,000 subscribers from his 513 uploaded videos. The guy is not just a Nokia fan as he is also just as passionate about other brands. More so with prototype phones that only a number of people know about. As someone who shares the same passion for mobile technology, I understand the desire for “what would have become” phones. But he also collects non-refurbished Nokia phones that are fully authentic from the case down to the internals.

I mean, this is the guy who has a decade worth of notes about mobile technology, and the guy who has an authentic fully retail-sealed Nokia 3310/3990 which he ought to open on the phone’s 50th anniversary. It’s not all that easy though. According to Techformative, getting a Nokia prototype is a struggle as it was Motorola that dominated the US market prior to the iPhone.

One of the first interesting phones he showed me is an orange Nokia N8 prototype. Unlike the retail Nokia N8, the prototype shows a slightly different design and buttons. First, the prototype has three buttons on the front. At its back, it has a kickstand which also acts as a bumper to prevent the phone from wobbling when placed flat on the table. Both phones, however, are built on the same anodized aluminum monocoque case although with a completely different board as per Techformative.

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What is so striking about the prototype is the difference it has with the retail Nokia N8 as per imaging. It is known that the Nokia N8 was created as a testing ground for what could later be known as the PureView technology. The retail version came with a built-in ND filter and a Carl Zeiss Tessar f/2.8 28mm lens.

The prototype version on the other hand has a different approach. It has a Carl Zeiss Tessar f/2.8 to f/5.4 variable aperture lens. Note that prior to the Nokia N8, Nokia has already experimented with variable aperture lenses on the 2009 Nokia N86 (What about that Samsung?) Unfortunately, according to Techformative, it has some errors he is trying to get rid of. He made a video about this on his channel so make sure to check that out.

The Nokia N8 prototype is not only exciting because of its major differences from the retail version but also for the drama it has entangled with back in 2010. The drama started when an editor-in-chief for reportedly “stole” a Nokia N8 prototype. Nokia Corporation asked help from the Russian police to retrieve the smartphone prototype which the blogger published a full detailed review of.

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Techformative also has a prototype of the Nokia 6750 (AKA Nokia Mural) which only came in gunmetal but has six color illumination (Nothing phone, who?). He also has the bezel-less Nokia 435 prototype (AKA Nokia Vela). The Nokia Mural is in no way different from the retail version, but the Nokia 435 prototype he has could have easily started the trend that we are still following today.

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Nokia isn’t particularly known for bezel-less phones so the Nokia Vela is a fresh take. The one Techformative has is in green color and is powered by what seems to be a taped BL-4C battery (the original battery for the Nokia Vela is rather rare, or not market-ready). Nokia scrapped the design because it could’ve been expensive to produce and it is targeted as a budget smartphone. Still, we don’t understand why this design wasn’t implemented on higher-end models like the Lumia 1020 or the Lumia 920.

One of the “very special” phones he has though is the Nokia X7-00 which was used during the “Calling All Innovators” event in 2011. This is one of the biggest events ever held by the Finnish brand (or in general, of any smartphone manufacturers to date) with a total of $10 million in cash and prizes (worth well over $12,000,000 when adjusted for inflation).

Nokia X7-00
The Nokia X7-00 is engraved with the Nokia event the device participated in and won

The phone has the “Calling All Innovators” and “DEVICE WINNER 2011” etched on its back. This means the phone could have some apps that were later adapted and renamed by Nokia Corporation for its own operating system. Unfortunately, the Nokia X7-00 Techformative has won’t boot up. He is not exactly sure if it was intentionally disabled by Nokia or if the phone just cease to work after years of use. Techformative is still trying to restore it though.

Currently, he is on the hunt to find a relic of the Nokia 5800 Batman Prototype phone which is Bruce Wayne’s phone in the Dark Knight Rises. He is very optimistic that someday it will be listed somewhere since the movie was shot in the United States. He also once desired to import a Nokia McLaren from China but the internal battery may have caused some issues.

As mentioned above, Techformative not only collects Nokia prototypes but also other brands. If you want to see what could have been the Motorola Rizr successor or what has become of Google and Intel’s Project Tango, make sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel. You may also follow him on Instagram where he uploads short video content and photos. He said that there will be more Nokia prototype content coming our way.