In addition to telephony, modern mobile phones also support a wide variety of other services such as text messaging, MMS, email, Internet access, short-range wireless communications (infrared, Bluetooth), business applications, gaming and photography. Mobile phones that offer these and more general computing capabilities are referred to as smartphones.
The first hand-held mobile phone was demonstrated by Dr Martin Cooper of Motorola in 1973, using a handset weighing around 2.2 pounds (1 kg). In 1983, the DynaTAC 8000x was the first to be commercially available. From 1990 to 2011, worldwide mobile phone subscriptions grew from 12.4 million to over 5.6 billion, penetrating the developing economies and reaching the bottom of the economic pyramid. Global penetration of the mobile phone was about 70% as of 2011.
Radiophones have a long and varied history going back to Reginald Fessenden's invention and shore-to-ship demonstration of radio telephony, through the Second World War with military use of radio telephony links and civil services in the 1950s.
The first mobile telephone call made from a car occurred in St. Louis, Missouri, USA on June 17, 1946, using the Bell System's Mobile Telephone Service. In 1956, the world’s first partly automatic car phone system, Mobile System A (MTA), was launched in Sweden. MTA phones were composed of vacuum tubes and relays, and had a weight of 88.2 pounds (40 kg).
Martin Cooper, a Motorola researcher and executive is considered to be the inventor of the first practical mobile phone for handheld use in a non-vehicle setting, after a long race against Bell Labs for the first portable mobile phone. Using a modern, if somewhat heavy portable handset, Cooper made the first call on a handheld mobile phone on April 3, 1973 to his rival, Dr. Joel S. Engel of Bell Labs. He stated "As I walked down the street while talking on the phone, sophisticated New Yorkers gaped at the sight of someone actually moving around while making a phone call. Remember that in 1973, there weren't cordless telephones or cellular phones. I made numerous calls, including one where I crossed the street while talking to a New York radio reporter - probably one of the more dangerous things I have ever done in my life." The new invention sold for an expensive price of $3,995 and weighed two pounds, receiving the nickname "the brick". The DynaTAc mobile phone cost $100m in development costs, and took over a decade to hit the market. When it did hit the market on March 6, 1983, the talk time was only a half an hour and took ten hours to charge. Despite the horrible battery life, weight, and low talk time, that didn't keep down consumer demands. The waiting lists were in thousands.
The world's first commercial automated cellular network was launched in Japan by NTT in 1979, initially in the metropolitan area of Tokyo. In 1981, this was followed by the simultaneous launch of the Nordic Mobile Telephone (NMT) system in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The first 1G network launched in the USA was Chicago-based Ameritech in 1983 using the Motorola DynaTAC mobile phone. Several countries then followed in the early-to-mid 1980s including the UK, Mexico and Canada.
During the initial marketing of cell phones in the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission capped the number of providers for each city (market area) at two, making it complicated to travel to any extent with your cell service.
In 1991, the second generation (2G) cellular technology was launched in Finland by Radiolinja on the GSM standard, which sparked competition in the sector as the new operators challenged the incumbent 1G network operators.
Ten years later, in 2001, the third generation (3G) was launched in Japan by NTT DoCoMo on the WCDMA standard. This was followed by 3.5G, 3G+ or turbo 3G enhancements based on the high-speed packet access (HSPA) family, allowing UMTS networks to have higher data transfer speeds and capacity.