Why It's Legendary – While this phone is erroneously thought of by many as the "Matrix phone" (an honour that actually belongs to the Nokia 8110 or "Banana phone") it is actually the first internet phone in the UK. Unfortunately these two facts brings the Nokia 7110 into legend the wrong way.
Back in the late 90s UK operators were trying to decide which internet standard to use. The choice was between i-mode and the WAP we all know and loathe. Most of the industry was leaning towards i-mode because it was cheaper to use, easier to design for, and had more features.
So what happened? Why did the industry suddenly turn to the clumsy alternative of WAP? Well, that's all down to Nokia and the Matrix. Everybody wanted the phone from the Matrix with it's cool spring sliding keypad cover and internet capabilities but Nokia wasn't ready to deliver. You see, the actual phone used in the film wasn't an internet phone. Nor was the cover spring loaded. So Nokia quickly added a spring loaded keypad cover to their new WAP phone and released it. This was the iPhone of its time in terms of hype. Everyone wanted one and the networks, recognising this, quickly added WAP as their mobile web standard and i-mode was quickly forgotten.
What It Got Right – It's a shame that the Nokia 7110 has that awful legacy, because the phone got literally everything else right.
At a time when most phones were lucky to fit two lines of text on their screens, the 7110 had an extra large screen which could show seven or more depending on the font size chosen. The scroll-wheel was the precursor for Sony Ericsson's famous jog-dial. The three soft-key navigation was revolutionary at it's time and is now standard on many phones. This was also the first phone to introduce a dynamic shared memory for all contacts and calendar appointments, another feature which is now standard.
What It Got Wrong – Eight years of underfeatured WAP basically buried the mobile web revolution expected in the UK. While in Japan the i-mode service streamed ahead with faster, cheaper, safer and more fully featured sites, the UK was stuck with the archaic and crumbling WAP structure. A dinosaur when it was first released it now stands as a testament to fashion over function having only recently reached an overall standard that i-mode had all along.
Despite all this the phone didn't get anything else wrong. In its time it was the best featured phone out there and is remembered fondly by everyone who owned one.