The Motorola 8000X cost 3000 when in launched in the UK in 1985 (authur:Redrum0486, modified by Retrowow, distributed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

How much did mobile phones cost in the 80s and 90s?

New technology is always expensive; manufacturers need to recoup years' worth of research costs. Back in the 80s, you would have to shell out £3000 to get your hands on the world's first hand portable phone, the Motorola 8000X.

NEC 9A, 1987 cost 1795

As the technology moved on, prices came down. Dealers cut prices aggressively to sign customers up to lucrative contracts and earn huge bonuses from the only two networks: Cellnet and Vodafone.

Motorola's 9800X in 1989 reversed this trend for a few months, when it redefined the mobile phone from a brick to something like a folding notepad. However, the initial launch price of 1765 did not last for long as competitors soon caught up.

The launch of GSM in the early 90s brought a new spate of high priced handsets, but discounting quickly caused prices to drop.

When Apple launched the iPhone in 2007 you needed only £269 to get the world's most desirable phone. However, purchase price was never the whole story with mobile phones and you had to sign up to an expensive contract with the exclusive network partner, O2.

These are some of the eye watering UK launch prices or recommended retail prices (RRP) for a selection of popular handsets from the early days. In reality, by waiting a few months people could get these phones for significantly less.


Motorola 9800X, 1989 price was 1765

Add your comments

"My Panasonic F1 on BT Cellnet in december 1991 cost £399 delivered." Jaso 03/17/2014
"Hi,
I have one Panasonic EB 2803 and i'm trying to know what is there real value, but i can't find any to sale.
Can someone give me the idea for the value of him. He is working.
Kind regards" Ricardo 05/28/2014
"Hi Ricardo,
The Pansonic EB2803 was an early GSM phone, but a transportable rather than a handportable.
I've not seen any on eBay of late, but I would say around £20. Probably worth hanging onto for now!" Steven 05/29/2014
"Hi can you please help me I'm looking for a new battery for my mint Motorola Independent brick phone, I've tried eBay and the internet I'm finding nothing. Thanks" Richard fallows 10/10/2015
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