What is the definitive Matrix Phone?  Let’s get jacked in and find out. 

The Matrix movie was released in 1999 and was instantly seen as a cult hit with its cutting edge special effects and stylised cinematography.  Whilst it borrowed much from many other movies, it really was something new and amazing.

The movie is by far one of my favourites and actually did inspire me to buy the Nokia 7110 phone shortly after it was released.  Yes, I am the victim of product placement.

Now the question is, what constitutes the definitive Matrix phone?  

In the movie, Thomas Anderson (aka Neo) is sent a phone in an envelope, and as he opens it you see the famous spring loaded slider action of the Nokia 8110.

The Nokia 8110 was released in 1996, several years before the Matrix was released, and also when the Matrix was supposedly set.  I’m not sure sure what Morpheus was thinking sending Neo such an outdated phone.  I guess he was into Retro.  Come to think of it, did he buy it from a pawn shop? Or was it part of the loading program? So many unanswered questions…

Anyway. here’s the rub.  The Nokia 8110 indeed had a slide out mouthpiece, but it wasn’t spring loaded like in the movie.  In fact, my research suggests the the Nokia 8110 in the movie was specially modified to have a spring loaded mechanism.

So is the Nokia 8110 that appeared in the original movie really the definitive Matrix phone?  Hold that thought.

Lets look now at the Nokia 7110…

The Nokia 7110 was released in 1999, the same year as The Matrix.  The 7110 had a fresher style compared to the almost brick like 8110, with its brushed-aluminium look highlights and the centrally located navi-roller. 

And I have to say, from personal experience, I loved the Navi-roller navigation from a usability perspective.  You would roll down the menu, and press the roller to select functions.  It was also a way cooler way to play the snake game.

The 7110 was ahead of its time with the newly introduced T9 predictive text and it also featured cutting edge media messaging and WAP browsing.  

My 7110 was one of my favourite phones that I have ever owned.  It was super cool, and super functional.  

It did have the spring loaded sliding mechanism, but it didn’t feature in the actual Matrix movie.  So is it the definitive Matrix phone?  Hold that thought.

ok, so in 2003 to coincide with the release of The Matrix Reloaded, Samsung released the SPH-N270 mobile phone.  Really rolls of the tongue that one.  The phone was featured in the Reloaded movie, and also appeared as a CGI phone in Final Flight of the Osiris, one of the stories in The Animatrix.

The phone was in limited release with only 10,000 units sold worldwide.  It featured a spring loaded mechanism (thank you), but instead of the mouthpiece, it’s the earpiece that pops up.  I remember at the time being torn as to whether to buy the phone or not.  I didn’t, but given their current scarcity, I may slightly regret that decision.

Interestingly enough, the phone was highly criticised for not having premium features such as MP3, video, a camera, and bluetooth.  Whaaat?

So is the Samsung SPH-N270 that was released as an official Matrix Reloaded phone, actually the definitive Matrix phone?  Hold that thought just one more time. 

I want to go back to the Nokia 8110 for a moment.  Interestingly enough, Nokia re-released the Nokia 8110 as the 8110 4G. I guess this was to cash in on all the nostalgia surrounding the original 8110.  

But for some reason, and I really can’t get my head around this, it doesn’t have a spring loaded mechanism in it.  I kinda think they missed an opportunity here and would have sold way more phones if they had just added like 50c worth of spring mechanism.  Anyway…

This brings me to my conclusion.  

I think if you held up the Samsung SPH-N270 in front of anyone today, they would probably say “What is that weird phone?”.

If you held up the Nokia 8110, people would go “Ha, look at that old Nokia brick phone.”

But if you held up the Nokia 7110, and you did this (spring loaded click), people would say “Oh cool, one of those Matrix phones.”

So based on that, and this is purely my own opinion – The definitive Matrix phone is the Nokia 7110.  

Sure you probably argue any of the phones I mentioned are the definitive Matrix phone… hell, you could even argue that the phone booth phone is the Matrix phone.

The important thing is… it just doesn’t matter.

Agree / Disagree?  Let me know in the comments…

And just one more thing before we go.

What about the new Matrix movie?  Will it have an official Matrix phone?

Will some big company get on board?  Samsung, Nokia, Android or even an Apple iPhone?

Will this be the next product placement that gets me hook line and sinker?

By Bill Baud

Living the Retro life in 8-bit.

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