Study reveals best-value mobile phones of past 25 years

Saf Malik
October 22, 2020

Uswitch interactive tool reveals some key mobile findings 

A new interactive tool by Uswitch has revealed the best-selling mobile handsets of the past 25 years. The tool also unveiled which phones have been the best value over the same period.

The Nokia 1110, released in 2005 was a best seller soon after its release and its low cost revolutionised the market. The handset sold over 250 million units worldwide which is a feat that hasn’t been surpassed to this day.

A full table of best selling handsets from the past quarter of a century can be found below.

Best-selling phones by units sold

Number. Handset model Year Units sold
1 Nokia 1110 2003, 2005 250,000,000
2 Apple iPhone 6 2014 224,400,000
3 Nokia 105 2013 220,000,000
4 Nokia 3210 1999 160,000,000
5 Nokia 5230 2009 150,000,000
6 Samsung E1100 2009 150,000,000
7 Nokia 1200 2007 150,000,000
8 Nokia 2600 2004 135,000,000
9 Nokia 1600 (1650/1661) 2006 130,000,000
10 Motorola RAZR V3 2004 130,000,000
11 Nokia 3310 2000 126,000,000
12 Nokia 1280 2010 100,000,000
13 Apple iPhone 8 2017 86,300,000
14 Apple iPhone 7 2016 78,300,000
15 Apple iPhone XR 2018 77,400,000
16 Apple iPhone 11 2019 75,000,000
17 Apple iPhone 5 2012 70,000,000
18 Samsung Galaxy S III 2012 70,000,000
19 Motorola StarTAC 75+ 1996 60,000,000
20 Apple iPhone 4S 2011 60,000,000
21 Samsung Galaxy S6 2015 45,000,000
22 Nokia 6120 1998 21,000,000
23 Nokia E71 2008 15,000,000
24 Nokia 5800 XpressMusic 2008 15,000,000

iPhone 11 is best for battery, but it’s all relative

Phones increased capabilities mean an even greater emphasis on the power of its battery. The iPhone 11 had a battery of 3110mAh yet it would not last as long as the Motorola RAZR V3 which had a 680mAh battery. The iPhone 11 has a far greater capability than the Motorola device which must be taken into account when measuring its battery life.

The Nokia 3310 was released in 2000 and was universally acclaimed for its long-lasting battery life at the time. It was capable of 55 hours on standby mode but its capability would be tested if it had the same capabilities of today’s smartphones.

The new iPhone 12 actually has a smaller battery size at 2815mAh than the iPhone 11, meaning the more demanding phone is less likely to hold out against its predecessor.

Blackberry never topped the list, but did revolutionise the market

While the Blackberry phones seemed a staple for many with its recognisable QWERTY keyboard design, it did not make the best-seller list.

The company battled Apple for market dominance before stopping producing handsets altogether in 2016. The original iPhone was released in 2007 and only sold 6.1 million units as consumers stuck to designs that were more tried and tested. It was only until 2011, where things changed and the iPhone 4S became Apple’s first best-selling device.

How does the iPhone 12 compare?

Despite its smaller battery life, a cost of £799 for a 64GB model means the iPhone 12 would still sit in the top ten most expensive handsets of the past 25 years.

Uswitch mobiles expert Rehan Ali commented on the findings: “It really is incredible to look back at the phones of yesteryear and see how the technology has changed over the past quarter of a century.

“Handsets which would have been considered game changing at the time, are now looked upon as basic bricks of plastic, only good for use as paperweights or museum displays.

“However, within the last five years, we’ve seen a significant shift in smartphone durability. Many devices can now last for up to five or six years, without the need to upgrade, as changes between models are more nuanced.

“One factor which has always been relevant is battery life, because no matter what phone you have, if it can’t last you the best part of a day, it is as useful as some of the older phones in our study.”

The full findings can be found at


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