Steve_Jobs first iphone

It’s hard to believe, but today Apple’s legendary smartphone turns seven years old. The phone which revolutionized smartphones and kickstarted the mobile revolution shipped with the simplest user interface imaginable, comprised of a grid of eye-candy icons.

Anyone that could touch the icons could use the new handset. It had no physical keyboard to begin with, which at the time was something of a heresy. The hyped device sold its first million units in 74 days.

It would go on to become the industry leader and cultural force, popularizing in just few short months the then nascent smartphone category outside the confines of boardrooms and high-level managers who were happy to dutifully type away their emails on the BlackBerry’s clickety-clack keyboard.

My fifth and sixth iPhone anniversary articles, for the most part, touched on the handset’s impact on the society. For this anniversary, I wanted to pay a special tribute to the device that has changed phones forever and reminiscence on my early impressions and the experience of picking the original iPhone up for the first time…

The seven generations of the iPhone

It’s surreal to fathom that seven years have already passed since Steve Jobs took the stage at the January 2007 MacWorld Expo to announce the original iPhone. In a career-defining presentation that kept the audiences around the world captivated, Jobs sold us on key advantages of the Apple handset.

The phone would lack a physical keyboard and would be built on the strong foundation of OS X, allowing it to run desktop-class applications. It would also put the Internet in the palm of your hand – the real desktop webpages, not the crippled WAP sites that were popular on phones at the time.

The original iPhone went on sale on June 29 following an unprecedented hype. Packing in a rather low-quality two-megapixel camera without optical zoom, flash, autofocus or video recording, and relying on the battery which lasted only a few hours – three hours with heavy use, if you were lucky – it wasn’t exactly the best phone in terms of hardware, but it wasn’t a slouch either, thanks to its speedy ARM-based processor.

Original iPhone (three-up, profile, front, back)

The original iPhone ran only stock apps because Steve Jobs thought opening the device up to developers would be a bad move. Immediately following its arrival, well-versed programmers and hackers started creating unofficial applications for it, in turn prompting Apple to allow third-party web apps on the device.

It so happened that the general public and developers responded to web apps with a resounding ‘meh’. As a side-effect of Apple’s tough stance on native apps, jailbreaking was born out of protest.

The iPhone 3G arrived the following year and it brought faster 3G networking and cost “half the price” as it was offered on contract. Hardware aside, it introduced the world to the App Store as Apple relented and opened up the handset to developers who would go on to create more than 1.2 million applications for it.

The importance of this decision can’t be overstated: it was another life-changing event as the iPhone went from being three devices in one – Apple’s original pitch framed it as a phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls and an Internet communicator – to becoming a camera in your pocket, a GPS tracker, a fitness trainer and just about anything you desire, as long as there was an app for that.

The iPhone 3Gs was introduced at the WWDC in June of 2009. It brought video recording and was twice as fast, which would become Apple’s mantra for the ensuing models. It bumped up the camera resolution to a bearable 3.2 megapixels and added support for a speedier 7.2Mbps 3G HSDPA downloading.

iPhone 3GS

The iPhone 3GS was immensely popular: it continued in production until September 2012 when the iPhone 5 was announced.

The iPhone 4 was introduced on June 7, 2010 following the Gizmodo leak, boasting a sharp 326ppi Retina display, a higher-resolution five-megapixel camera and an Apple-designed A4 chip which had previously debuted on the original iPad a few months earlier.

Its all-new design sandwiched the device between a pair of chemically strengthened aluminosilicate glass plates, prompting Steve Jobs to proudly bill it as the thinnest smartphone in the world at the time.

iphone 4 on table blacked out

Perhaps most controversially, it sported the beautifully done stainless steel band which ran around the edges of the device. Actually part of a sophisticated antenna system, the engineering feat resulted in Antennagate – the remarkably sensationalist controversy fed on the discovery that touching a gap in the band would cause signal attenuation.

The iPhone 4s came with Apple’s two times faster A5 chip, an eight-megapixel camera with 1080p video recording and an exclusive software feature: a breakthrough personal assistant named Siri, decidedly another life-changing event.

iPhone 4S advert (Siri 001)

It was also the first iPhone to replace OmniVision cameras with Sony’s. The phone was unveiled at a media event on October 4, 2011 by freshly minted CEO Tim Cook and his lieutenants. Steve Jobs was not in attendance as he was gravely ill and would pass away on the following day.

The iPhone 5 was introduced in September of 2012 as the first iPhone with a taller four-inch screen rocking a nearly 16:9 aspect ratio. It was Apple’s response to the growing popularity of jumbo-sized Android phones as increasing the screen from 3.5 to four inches diagonally didn’t sacrifice the firm’s unwavering principle of one-handed use.

iPhone 5 (black, two-up, flat, front, back)

Powered by Apple’s two times faster A6 chip and including a Sony-made eight megapixel camera, the iPhone 5 famously phased out the decade-old 30-pin Dock connector in favor of Lightning, a new I/O standard on iOS devices.

It finally brought support for ultra-fast LTE networking and rehashed the iPhone 4 design by replacing the back glass with a two-tone aluminum plate. Speaking of which, its aluminum-based body was thinner and lighter than previous models.

The iPhone 5s arrived last September and revolutionized fingerprint scanning on a mobile device with the Touch ID sensor embedded right into the handset’s iconic Home button. Apple’s fingerprint scanning implementation called for protecting the Home button with sapphire crystal, similar to the sapphire-strenthened iSight camera lens on the back.

Gold iPhone 5s front

The iPhone 5s wooed celebrities and wannabe with its gold finish. More importantly, it leapfrogged competition with the first 64-bit processor on a mobile device – Apple’s in-house designed A7 chip – and the first 64-bit optimized mobile operating system.

The iPhone 5c?

green blue pink iPhone 5c side by side

I’m not mentioning Apple’s unapologetically plastic handset in this timeline because it’s basically a previous-generation iPhone repackaged inside a plastic shell rather than a brand new iPhone model.

Here’s a nice seven-minute look back at the seven generations of the iPhone by YouTuber PhoneDog.

Multitouch for the masses

With its minimal hardware and software design, the original iPhone was widely successful. More than anything, it introduced the masses to the concept of touch. Touch an icon to open an app. Touch a phone number to make a call. Touch to play your music. Touch Safari’s address bar to type in a URL.

January 2007 iPhone introduction (Steve Jobs, multitouch patented slide)

There were, of course, touch-enabled phones before the iPhone but those were few and far between. Prior to the iPhone, for example, my experience with touch handsets was one of a terrible disappointment. I’ve tried LG’s Prada and a few other devices and they all lacked the iPhone’s immediacy.

My first iPhone experience: a life-changing event

I don’t think I’ll ever forget holding the original iPhone in my hand for the very first time. It was a life-changing event and I vividly remember being taken aback by the responsiveness of its multitouch interface and gestures like pinch zoom.

It was shockingly effective: you’d spread two fingers apart and a webpage or a photo would zoom in smoothly, Minority Report style.

iphone pinch to zoom

Steve Jobs understood that every millisecond counts and that any delay between touch events and actions breaks the touch paradigm – that’s why he demanded that the iPhone had a more expensive capacitive touchscreen protected by glass cover, as well as a speedy processor and graphics for stutter-free visuals.

It was such a refreshing change from the rest of the pack and it was amusing watching the industry take its time abandoning resistive touchscreen that felt desperately cheap and had to be pressed, not touched.

Those characteristics gave the iPhone a premium feel and the handset became widely known from the onset for its top-notch multitouch implementation, responsiveness and smoothness of its user interface. To this date, this holds true.

Quo vadis, iPhone?

Only Apple knows what’s up next for the iPhone, but we still make educated guesses. All checks point to this year’s refresh focusing on screen size, with both 4.7 and 5.5-inch models said to be in tow.

We don’t know whether or not the two models will pack in the same hardware and if the screen is going to be the only differentiator between the two – like the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display.

If the rumors are an indication, the bigger model could differentiate with several exclusive features such as an 128GB storage option, an improved camera with optical image stabilization, an ultra-sharp screen at 2K resolution and multiple new sensors for measuring air pressure, temperature and humidity.

5.5-inch iPhone 6 dummy (Danny Winget 002)

One thing is certain: Apple will continue to relentlessly iterate the iPhone – with nearly 70 percent of its revenue attributed to iPhone sales, you can bet the Cupertino firm will continue pouring its best innovation into its pocket computer which happens to make phone calls, too.

I want to hear your iPhone stories.

Do you remember holding it for the first time in your hand? What were your thoughts after spending the first few minutes with it? Did it strike you as a game-changing device, or were you unimpressed?

Chime in with your thoughts down in the comments.

  • Cant belive ive never seen that iphone 3g ad… Loved it

  • unkown man


    • Kurt

      I’m happy iOS 7 is beautiful.

      • unkown man


      • Kurt

        It is the best iOS so far.

      • felixtaf

        Stop your sarcasm, you troll.. lol lol

      • Kurt

        haha, no sarcasm. It is the best iOS so far 😀

      • felixtaf


      • CS

        a very broad, unsupported statement.

      • regkilla

        I agree

      • Waleed

        iOS 6 and then iOS 7 are the best..
        iOS 8 would suckk.. Even after the final version in september..

  • Willie

    I like how such a small device, has come such a long way. It has gone through so many changes and improvements. This is why I love the iPhone! And it’s also the reason why I have never switched to other phone.

  • Kurt

    I remember when I had my iPod Touch 1G and thinking the screen was huge! I came from Microsoft Zune which I thought had a huge screen in comparison to the iPod Video?

  • iBanks

    Yup! I remember sitting in line for 6 hours for the first time ever to purchase something. Permiter Mall in GA.

  • leart

    when saw for the first time the original iPhone on December 2007 it was a shock

  • This is greatly written. Love it.

  • felixtaf

    I wont lie… Never saw an iPhone until 2009! Heard about it and saw it in TV ads, internet etc (no hands-on experience until 2009).
    An old iPhone 3G changed everything.

    • Dani Hayes

      Same here. I needed a new phone and the 3G was my choice. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got it. I was just excited about all the AppStore stuff.

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      Same here. I never knew Apple until the iPhone 3G and haven’t left the boat since. My iPhone 3G never let me down (if anything I let it down). It broke when the iPhone 4S came out so I bought it and recall thinking “Wow Doodle Jump looks amazing on this retina display (in comparison to my iPhone 3G screen)”. I now have an iPhone 5s and don’t plan on leaving the Apple boat I’m in anytime soon…

      • Waleed

        #TeamiPhone Forever ❤️

    • Waleed

      Still u are lucky, alot won’t even ever use iPhone 5

  • sNick

    Really nice story and summary! I’ve started at iPhone 3GS while my friends had an iPhone 3G and the first one. I was the King with mine – twice as fast… 🙂

  • Ksain

    Oh, it was love from at first sight!

    • Jeffrey Feuerstein

      Oh god, I would love to own a brand new iPhone 2g!!!!!

      • Waleed

        I want too.. 🙂 but 3GS

  • ExcitedMuch

    My first iPhone was iPhone 3GS and that thing was blazing fast compared to my samsung jet back that time. I may switch to other phones but I will keep my old iPhones as a treasure. :)))

    P.S no! I wont switch I will keep my iPhone as the main phone and android phone as a toy :))

    • TDD140

      I do the exact same thing!

      • Waleed

        Still my first iphone 3Gs is being used by my sister 🙂
        Don’t wanna lose it

      • TDD140

        Long live the iPhone 3GS, my 2nd most favorite iPhone to date behind the iPhone 4

  • CS

    My first iPhone was a 3gs, broken home button, cracked screen, half of the plastic backing was missing. I had Facebook then, back when the app was similar to apple’s springboard look. Also got a score of 500 on Cube Runner. I miss that phone so much.

    As for Apple device, one of those iPod shuffles. Basically a USB stick with buttons. I got the 2nd generation iPod touch next, I remember thinking it was so thin and fast. The first game I ever downloaded from the App Store was that monkeyball game.

    Today, I own just about everything. Two minis, an ipad 2, iphone 4s/5/5s, iMac, mac mini, ATV, mb air. I will decide on which iPhone 6 model I want when the Apple Store opens in late-September with all the 6 models.

  • highNiggaPie

    I remember the first time dropping my iphone 2g in college and everyone just stopped and gasped like I had just kicked a baby

    • Waleed

      LOL dats funny

  • TechLove

    My brother just got a new iPhone 5c (Blue) and i am still unable to find the hate it got.
    My dad’s having an iPhone 5s and the iOS 7 is just gorgeous (on both 5c and 5s) and i am still unable to find the hate its getting.
    Here i am having an HTC One M7 and a Nexus 4 and both shutter and get frame drops, reboots, crashes just after a year of launch. Android kitkat is kinda boring (Yup, when its in the stock mode, no roms, no launchers no mods, no framework mods etc.) and i am still unable to find the praise they’re getting!

    • Chris Tangler

      i say this only using my borther in laws HTC One M7 and not every owning an one, but he really likes it and i did too…but im in no hurry to go out and use my 2 year upgrade to get the new M8…just saying

  • @dongiuj

    “and I still remember holding it for the first time”
    That’s what she said.

  • Shisno

    I too remember getting it the day it came out so expensive but it was so worth it. I did not pay for it so it was awesome and just when we were about to purchase I said why not the 8gb version instead and we got that one, lol 8gb I use that in one day for video now. Also with one of the first updates to the software I became so excited for the ability to move icons and how they wiggled. Once it came out I went around the whole house showing everyone, oh gosh now it’s seems so plain. I still have my first iphone and will never get rid of it:) currently on 5s gold 64gb can’t wait for 128gb hopefully at same price.

  • Jack Wong

    I still have 2 iPhone 2G(first generation).

    It was the cheapest smartphone($199/299) because we can buy it with contract price then unlock it at home without doing activation with at&t.

    It took the hacker 1 week to jailbreak it, it was really amazing.

  • Jeremy Spencer

    I was 6 when the original iPhone came out, at the time my brother had an iPod and I wanted a Mac instead of my Windows 95 machine. I hadent heard about the original iPhone because it was not available in Canada. But I remember the iPhone 3G and 3GS coming out and I annoyed the crap out of my family about them. I did get an iPod Touch 2nd Gen eventually but the first iPhone I actually saw was the 3GS and I thought it was so cool and better than the iPod Touch since it had a camera and compass and a few other features only available on the 3GS. Once the iPhone 4 came out I had convinced my family to get it, and yes I mean my entire family. They all got one and their I was with my iPod Touch 2nd Gen. I just got my first iPhone this year and I love it.

  • RayRayBeav

    My first iPhone was an iPhone 3G, for my job at the time. I loved it so much that within a month I had an iPhone 4 of my own. Then when the iPhone 5 came out I had to have it. Now with the iPhone 6 coming out, you know I’ll be having the 5.5″

  • Bugs Bunnay

    I remember seeing one of those around, but never really interested me. I even jailbroken a couple of them here and there.
    When the iPhone 4 came out… I pulled the trigger. This kind of iPhone was completely different from any previous iPhone (or any other phone for that matter). It had these features and sensors you’d never expect a smart phone would have. Good front and back camera? Yes please. Plus glass back? Unheard of. I couldn’t stop smiling every time I held it
    Bought a super slim one piece clear cover case off ebay and that was it. No screen protector. It slipped off my hands 2 – 3 times since owning it (once on concrete) and the phone is still cosmetically fine and functional. Screen has no noticeable scratches besides micro scratches held under a light at an angle since I prefer the screen naked.
    Today I still own it and not planning to let go. Instead will be used as a “smart clock” docked on my nightstand. Pretty happy iPhone 4 owner here.

  • jp2002

    Missing Steve and Forstall 🙁

    • rockdude094

      Big time

    • Waleed

      I miss steve ☺️

  • Waleed

    And i still remember holding my iPhone 3GS for the first time, shopkeeper sold a locked iPhone 3GS saying its unlocked, lol i updated, and then this was my beginning of jailbreakig and hacking stuff ! (Unlocked via ultrasn0w) i thank to Apple for being awesome, and all the hackers, and iDownloadblog for the tutorials and guides, love you all, stay blessed 🙂
    Now i’m a iPhone 5 advanced user jailbroken with Pangu,
    iDownloadblog has always been making me a cool user <3