18 March 1999

164 grams



The R380 was announced in 1999 and was offered in three variants. The unit owned by the Mobile Phone Museum is the most common variant - the R380s - the dual-band 900/1800 version. Other variants were the R380 World which was dual band 900/1900 for the US market and a version called the R380e which had some minor cosmetic improvements as well as a software upgrade. The Ericsson R380 was the first GSM phone to use the EPOC32 operating system (Release 5). Originally developed for the Psion Series 5 of PDAs, EPOC evolved into the Symbian Operating System which was widely used on numerous smartphones. The use of EPOC gave the R380 features which identified it as a smartphone by combining a mobile phone, personal organiser, WAP browser, email and SMS text messaging. The R380 had a flip design which accommodated the two basic modes of operation: a conventional mobile phone with a 12 button keypad which folded open to offer smartphone capabilities. When the phone was fully opened it revealed a 120 x 360 pixel (28 x 83mm) touch screen which was used in landscape mode. When closed, two thirds of the screen was obscured by the phone's keypad giving it a more conventional look and feel. These two distinct functions were delivered using two separate processors, a GSM processor and an ARM processor and the phone had 1.2MB of memory. When using the smartphone functions, text entry was possible via a QWERTY keyboard displayed on the touch sensitive screen or by using a handwriting recognition application. The contacts application stored names, numbers, postal and email addresses. The R380 could connect to other mobile phones using an infrared port or to computers via a serial port. Software was provided to allow the R380 to be synchronised with your PC. Internet access was provided by the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) operating over a GSM data service. The R380 also offered a calendar function with to-do lists and appointments, a notepad application, a 10 digit calculator, a clock and one strategy game. Despite being one of the early smartphones, users were unable to install their own software or applications. Ericsson product manager Kevin Lloyd estimates that  up to 200,000 units of the R380 were sold. Some information courtesy of Nigel Linge & Andy Sutton, the authors of 30 Years of Mobile Phones in the UK (Paid Link)