10 years ago today, we published our first smartphone review ever which marked the beginning of the smartphone revolution. Pocketnow had been around longer than that, of course, but we had mostly covered Pocket PCs back then. In the spring of 2002 we got our hands on the first device that tried to combine the power of a Pocket PC hand held computer with the always-on communications of a mobile phone.
The GSM/GPRS expansion pack was actually an attachment for the most powerful Pocket PC of the time; the Compaq iPAQ H3600. The iPAQ H3600 was actually one of the first products that was manufactured by HTC. Its design boasted modularity with expansion “sleeves” that wrapped around the device and added functionality.
Most people were walking around with both a cell phone and a PDA at the time. The PDA would sync with a desktop computer so that you could keep track of all of your contact info, appointments, tasks, and notes while mobile. For a long time I carried only a PDA with no cell phone since I thought it was ridiculous to carry a phone that didn’t sync all of my personal information automatically. It seemed even more ridiculous trying to sync the PDA with a mobile phone using the infrared ports.
So I waited for the first real smartphone to appear. Yes the Treo 180 was released a couple months earlier, but it had that silly “graffiti” text input interface, a greyscale screen, and a ton of things it couldn’t do (GPS navigation, MP3 player, video player, real HTML web browser, etc.)
The Compaq GSM/GPRS Expansion pack was unique in that it was adding phone capabilities to a pocket PC that was never designed to be a phone. This meant adding a phone speaker and microphone to the back along with a secondary battery, firmware, power button, and external antenna. The attachment even included its own software that automatically installed on the Pocket PC when attached.