My Portable Music Devices: A History - Part 5

I remember it clearly - summer of 2008 and I was sitting in a hotel room just outside of Pula airport on my way home from a holiday. The flight back home had been cancelled not 2 hours before departure, so I got a full extra day of "free" holiday in Croatia with terrible sandwiches, a dirty room and a not-sure-if-is-clean pool. I also remember for the first time using an iPod touch. I would later get my first iPhone, the iPhone 3G, on my birthday a few months later (thanks Gmail). The phone would replace my Nokia E65 and 6300 that I had been using, and also the Zen Vision:M.

It would be the first "iPod" I would own (remember, back then the iPhone operating system called the music and video application "iPod") and the start of the smartphone MP3 era.

Actually, before we start the smartphone era, maybe I should discuss the featurephone era. You don't know what a featurephone is? Well it is the phones we all lost our shit for before proper smartphones came out - "proper" being the word I'd use, because there was loads of properly shit smartphones prior to the iPhone doing it "right", including the abortive Windows Mobile 5 phones like the Orange SPV, O2 XDA and Motorola MPX ranges of weird PDA phones that were trying to mix to technologies that weren't quite ready. Also, during this time, I had no idea what the fuck Nokia were thinking.

The Nokia 6230 and 6230i

I used to work in a phone shop and I used to know the ins and outs of all the top handsets, and the 6230 was a fucking beast. The main reason I loved it so was that it had a memory card slot that I smashed a 128Mb memory card into it that meant that suddenly I had a full blown MP3 player the size of a 10 pack of smokes. The problem I had was that the earphones that the Nokia came with were Amnesty International bad so I bought a clever wee hack that let me use my own headphones on the device, which in turn meant that I could plug the tape deck MP3 adaptor (I'll have to explain this to Joni at some point and I don't know where to start) into my phone.

What a world. But the issue I had was that the Nokia wasn't meant for this - the MP3 software was abysmal to the point of almost satire and it properly shagged the battery, so it wasn't a perfect solution. I had this phone around the same time as the Zen Touch and it won the race in the end. The smartphone, on the other hand, bossed it so hard.

The Smartphone Era

(The iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, iPhone 5, Nexus 4 and HTC One M8)

I'm lumping all of these devices into one because of one major difference. In the "old days" your music was hampered by the format - I went from CD to MiniDisc to MP3 in a few short years excluding the tape Walkman my parents let me use. Now a days it's entirely hardware agnostic - my library is in the cloud on Google Music, on Spotify and tucked away in my iTunes, and it can be ported to pretty much any device there is. The difference between the iPhone 3G and 4 was that I could all of a sudden play music in the back ground (man, that was a weird thing to not let me do on the early iPhones) and the difference between the iPhone 4, 5, the Nexus and the HTC are very minimal.

The biggest issue that I have had to overcome is one I've always had - space. Back on the Discman it was simple one album. On the MiniDisc it was around three or four depending on my compression. On the Nokia it was at a maximum 15 songs, and latterly the Zens had hard drives large enough to take all my music comfortably. Not any more - at a a recent guess at 10Mb per song at 320kbps MP3 my library is around 140Gb, pushing the limits of the largest hard drive music player there is. That is why the cloud is my saviour. It's an unlimited storage space solution that means all I have to do is chose what I want and away I go.

The last time I was properly blown away by my smartphone's music features was the first time I used Spotify back in 2009. Now a days it seems so strange.

Through these devices I have fallen in love with an artform that I'll take to my grave. What a life.