Back in 2004, the idea of making a video call with your mobile phone felt like the future. 3G was just taking off and several phones were sold on this feature alone – even though the image quality was often terrible and it was impossible to get a signal strong enough to use it often. Although it wouldn't be until much later than 'Face Time' calls became the norm, one company tried to make video calling on the GBA a reality in 2004 – with mixed results.
Japanese firm Digital Act released the Campho Advance in 2004, a bolt-on camera that allowed you to make video calls using your Nintendo handheld. With a 1.1 megapixel camera and 5fps performance, it wasn't exactly a smooth experience – and that's before you factor in that you have to be connected to a power supply and telephone while using it. Hardly what you'd call elegant. And the price? 19,000 yen was, back in 2004, the equivalent of around £164 / $222, so it wasn't cheap, either.
Only 10,000 units were ever made available in Japan and it seems the Campho Advance pretty much sank without trace. However, The Retro Future has managed to find a brand-new one and has spent some time getting to grips with it. Obviously, there's no scope to use it for a phone call – you'd need a second Campho Advance to do that – but it's interesting nonetheless to see this thing in the flesh.
I remember someone having this device back in the day and he could not use it.
I discovered many years later what that thing actually was, purely by accident.
The GBA had a lot more power than most of us in the west remember! Like remember the Japanese accessory that turned the GBA into an online gaming device using cell phone service?
The extra accessories that the Japanese got for all consoles and handhelds was amazing, always remember that fish sonar, and now this
Famicom had internet.
GBA had cartoons on cartridge.
Virtual Boy included laser eye surgery.
Nintendo has always been cutting edge.
@Savino They made a flip phone with a touch screen and physical button. Dedicated to gaming, but with chat features, some simple apps, a camera in a redesign, a microphone... And with only local wireless functionality (extended by local wireless internet, that is).
You may be right about that.
@Savino There were basically smartphones before Apples iPhone were around.
Some of Compaq's/HP's iPaq PDA's like the iPaq h6315 for example had cellular functions, hence a device that resamples a lot like iPhones.
Plus Nokia's 9100 series phones can unfold into a portfolio computer, for which is another form of smartphone.
Plus by extension, any phone that run symbian OS can be called a smartphone.
Also as I was double checking release dates while typing all of the I just leaned of the IBM Simon a touchscreen smartphone released way back in 1994.
So really the iPhone wasn't the first smartphone on the market, not by a longshot.
And some people thought that Wii U Chat was cool.
@octokid I used Wii U chat often back then and it was pretty great. ☺️
@Savino The first smartphone came out before iMac; Apple didn't "invent the smartphone". Of course it was still very rudimentary, think palm pilot with cellular service.
Edit: @Kawaiipikachu beat me to the punch, and with nice detail too, although the earliest ones didn't have touchscreens.
Wait, are you for real? That's definitely news to me.
I had low hopes for Google translate working when you brought it out. Still a very neat device though.
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