The Nokia 2110 was a key device in the history of 2G GSM technology and an important handset in Nokia’s history.
It was designed by Frank Nuovo and when it was first shown to the head of Nokia’s Mobile Phone division, Pekka Ala-Pietila, he is reported as having to think long and hard about whether such as “radical and innovative” device would sell.
The company’s original sales goal for the device was 400,000 units; it eventually went on to sell over 20 million units with numerous variants of the device being offered.
This variant, the original Nokia 2110, featured an antenna design which proved notoriously fragile, frequently snapping off. The design was evolved on its successor, the 2110i, offering a protruding antenna to overcome this problem.
The 2110 is noteworthy as it was the first Nokia phone to feature the iconic Nokia ringtone which was based on the “Gran Vals” guitar music written by Spanish musician Francisco Tarrega in 1902. Nokia executive Anssi Vanjoki is credited with suggesting this music be used as a ringtone. It was offered on the Nokia 2110 in the ringtone menu labelled as “Type 7”.
From a technical perspective, the Nokia 2110 was a breakthrough product as it was able to receive text messages. Following a software update it could also support “mobile-originated” text messages and the device was widely used in the early testing of the SMS text message service.
The 2110 could also be connected to a laptop via a PCMCIA data card which allowed data transfer – a revolutionary step that marked the beginning of the mobile data revolution. In addition to the cable connection to a PCMCIA card, Nokia also created a data sleeve for the 2110 (into which the data card could be inserted). This also allowed an infrared connection to a laptop.
The user interface design was considered a breakthrough in usability. It introduced two dynamic soft-keys that allowed different functions to be invoked depending on what part of the menu structure was being accessed. For many years the Nokia 2110’s large display coupled with two soft-keys was a benchmark in user interface design on mobile phones.
On 26 February 1996, the Nokia 2110 was voted the outstanding phone of the year by participants at the GSM World Conference in Cannes. This was the tenth award for the Nokia 2110. Other awards included Business Week magazine's product of the year for 1995, a Cellnet Caesar Award for best performance and selection as the USA Home Office Computing Magazine Editors' Pick in January 1996.