It is almost ten years since Steve Jobs introduced the Phone with the lower case “i” (it stood for ‘Internet”, incidentally) and went right and changed the phone-y sides of all our lives. Right from the first iPhone which arrived in mid 2007 to the time of writing, we have seen ten different editions of the iPhone (the iPhone, the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5S and 5c, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus and the iPhone SE), and each has in some way or the other changed the way in which we use our phones or our expectations from them. So even as we wait for the eleventh edition of what many call the Godphone, we thought this was a good time to stroll down the memory lane and just see what different iPhones down the years had got us used to:
Multi-touch, pinch to zoom
There had been touchscreens before the first iPhone, but these had been cumbersome to use and worked best with a stylus. The iPhone was perhaps the first mainstream phone that got us accustomed to touchscreens by just making them so easy to use. And yes, no one would ever look at a picture on the phone without pinching fingers to zoom into its details.
Apps and app stores
Oh yes, we know that apps existed before the iPhone came along – just ask anyone who used a Palm, Windows Phone, BlackBerry or even some of the high-end feature phones (which used apps in the form of Java applets – Getjar.com used to be a treasure trove for appy users) – but the iPhone brought a new level of quality as well as quanity to apps. So much so that within a few years of its launch, the biggest flaw people found with BB and Windows Phone was a relative paucity of quality apps.
Until the iPhone came along, a great camera was a bit of an add-on to the entire smartphone experience (BlackBerry did not even have cameras on their phones for a while), but within no time, it became arguably the most used camera in the world, and one of the pillars on which a smartphone’s reputation rested. The “DSLR” comparisons (silly though they were) got well and truly underway and clicking a picture with the camera became one of the standard tests conducted by anyone purchasing a new smartphone.
SIM card size changes and “SIM extraction tools”
SIM cards had a standard size until Apple came along. The iPhone 4 trimmed the SIM and the iPhone 5 trimmed it still further and now we are hearing of virtual SIMs being next on the iPhone SIM City agenda. Oh, and the company also made it trendy to access your SIM not by pulling out the battery or lifting a flap, but by poking a “SIM extraction tool” (a shiny and not too sharp pin-like object in simpler English) into a hole to make the SIM card tray pop out.
The iPhone was perhaps the first mainstream phone whose battery was literally invisible to the general user – you could not see it unless you opened up the phone with a special screwdriver. Of course, this prompted a lot of concern about “how would you reboot a phone that freezes” as “pull out battery to reboot” was a well-known solution to all smartphone ills in those pre-2010 days. Today, the majority of high end devices come with unibody designs and batteries whose role is to power the device rather than restart it when frozen!
Bad battery life
It might have been invisible to the general eye, but the battery of the iPhone was seldom long lasting. “Mate, it makes the N95’s battery look good,” I remember Rajat Agarwal exclaiming after using the first iPhone and while the likes of the iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus have improved matters considerably, one cannot help but feel that the iPhone played a big role in our getting used to phones that needed to be charged once a day rather than 2-3 times a week (ask anyone who used a Nokia E61i if you don’t believe us).
Smaller displays… (and larger displays)
And after spending so much time and money convincing us about the correct size of a display, Apple went right ahead and gave us a 5.5-inch display in one of the larger phone frames in the market. And while some hated the size, people were starting to get used to it when Apple came right back at us with yet another small-ish phone – the iPhone SE. No, we don’t know what the perfect phone display size is, but we have a feeling that Apple will make a compelling argument for anything from 3.5 to 6 inches with a degree of ease. And most consumers will agree too.
Talking to our phone and using fingerprint scanners
They have been around for a while and there are better options on paper but there is no doubting that Siri, the iPhone’s virtual assistant, and Touch ID, the iPhone’s fingerprint scanner are still among the most reliable of their kind. Yes, OK Google and work faster and Cortana can sing you songs, but somehow talking to them does not seem as much of a…conversation as it does with Siri. And the iPhone’s fingerprint scanner remains the best we have ever seen – unlocking phones was never this smooth.
Yes, we know Nokia had devices with fixed storage well before the iPhone came along with its “no expandable memory” mantra but the iPhone was the first smartphone to succeed in spite of having fixed storage. So much so that today the news of a device having non-expandable storage does not elicit the kind of outrage it once did (the OnePlus 3, the Nexus 6P and the Xiaomi Mi 5 do not have expandable storage and neither did the Galaxy S6!).
Frayed charging cables
We still have the charging cable of the Moto RAZR 2 and it still works fine, but changing the iPhone charging cable a few times a year or taping up its frayed ends with special tape (or suffering the odd shock) has become part and parcel of the life of an iPhone user. Things got considerably worse with the introduction of the lightning port, so much so that many people now tape up the slightly lumpy part before the lighting port plug to ensure that fraying is minimised. The cables still cost a bomb, though!