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

Today eight years ago, the original iPhone went on sale in the United States after a 6-month period of unprecedented hype triggered by its January 9, 2007 introduction. Like most other Apple products were panned as duds but went on to become smash hits, the Apple smartphone was universally dismissed.

Then industry heavyweights such as Nokia, RIM and Palm—with a little help from shortsighted technology press—ridiculed the device for its poor (by non-smartphone standards) battery life, multitouch interface, software keyboard and many other features that were ahead of its time.

In retrospect, rivals’ knee-jerk reaction to the iPhone, coupled with their risk aversion and stubborn insistence on old ways of doing things, contributed to their incredibly fast undoing.

Doomsayers notwithstanding, the device went on to sell hundreds of millions of units worldwide (726 million units to date, to be precise), becoming the de facto gold standard for smartphones. And while the iPhone is now common sight in all corners of the globe,  its beauty isn’t that it invented, but re-invented the hopelessly-out-of-touch (to quote T-Mobile CEO) industry.

It gave the sleepy, self-absorbed wireless carriers—and handset makers, their partners in crime—a much needed kick in their butt for not listening to consumers’ needs at all. Sure, there were smartphones before the iPhone but they looked like they were designed by committees (which they actually were) and one needed a user manual to master them.

There were phones with touchscreens before the iPhone but none implemented the sensation and immediacy of touch so elegantly and seamlessly as Apple’s device. There were also mobile app stores, of sorts, before the App Store. But none has offered the ease of use and instant gratification of tapping a colorful icon to have an app arrive wirelessly on your Home screen.

No smartphone other than the iPhone has managed to consistently earn highest customer satisfaction scores to this date. And as we’ve witnessed, in the process of doing so the iPhone has turned the largely written off, beleaguered computer maker from Cupertino into the most powerful corporation in the world, one that can easily sway whole multi-billion dollar industries with their decisions.

The original iPhone was available exclusively on AT&T in the United States and ran on the carrier’s sluggish EDGE data network. Back then, Apple stock sold for a measly $17.43.

The entry-level model with eight gigabytes of storage cost $599 on a two-year contract, though Apple dropped its price to $399 in September of that year. In November 2007, the iPhone hit the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Portugal, Ireland and Austria.

Originally lauded as three devices in one—a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls and a breakthrough Internet communicator—the iPhone in just one year became anything its owners wanted it to become thanks to the introduction of the App Store in the summer of 2008.

Although Apple did allow developers from the onset to write web apps that ran in the iPhone’s Safari browser, the experience left a lot to be desired and it wouldn’t be until the App Store came along that mobile apps would become a cultural phenomenon like no other.

Despite the naysayers, even the staunchest of iPhone critics agree that the ‘Jesus phone,’ as it was labeled by click-hungry press, kickstarted the mobile industry revolution.

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

I clearly remembered life before the iPhone.

I was a longtime Nokia fan in my pre-iPhone years.

I had also owned dozens of smartphones by Samsung and Motorola. Each of these devices I got fed up with quickly. I couldn’t understand why these companies that were creating fortunes selling mobile phones couldn’t create compelling and engaging user experiences on a small screen.

Why was setting up an email account on a mobile phone such a tedious task? Didn’t people deserve phones that excelled at both form and function? Why did carriers have to control everything and shovel their junkware down our throat? Why did I need a computer and a special, ridiculously pricey cable just to install a third-party app on my Nokia 6600?

And why the heck was mobile software so overpriced?

That, my friends, was what living in the mobile world was like in the pre-iPhone days.

Nowadays carriers don’t wield absolute power as they used to. User experience and great design matter again. Nowadays tens of thousands of young people write mobile software, apps are everywhere and people have the freedom of choosing between iOS, Windows Phone, Android, BlackBerry and other mobile platforms.

steve jobs original iphone

But history is now repeating itself with the Apple Watch.

Superficial reviewers who aim for clickbait have slammed the Apple Watch because they were too lazy to take the time to realize how to set up and customize notifications hitting their wrist.

These critics have complained about third-party apps because they run on an iPhone and don’t tap watch hardware and sensors directly, but purposely or out of ignorance have failed to mention that it’s only a matter of time before native experiences arrive.

As Apple said from the onset, native Apple Watch apps are coming this fall.

And if history of the iPhone is anything to go by, native app development will help the Apple Watch take off in a big way just as the App Store has catapulted the iPhone into being the most sought-after device Apple has ever created.

Nowadays, the iPhone accounts for nearly 70 percent of Apple’s revenue and more than half of its profits so it’s essential to the company’s fortunes.

For those wondering, Apple has released ten different iPhone models between 2007 and 2014: the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Do you remember your pre-iPhone mobile experience?

And can you still recall that feeling of taking an iPhone into your hand for the very first time, and interacting with it?

Share your memories down in the comment section.

  • aizathisyam

    I was a Nokia fan before switching to an iPhone 3GS… My first smartphone was Nokia N70… It was a good smartphone in my opinion… But once you go iPhone you’ll never look back…

    • urrl

      I looked back and bought an LG G3 due to Apples insistence for so long on the small 4″ screen and I think Apple finally saw what could happen if they continued in that direction. I switched back to the 6+ not only because of the screen size but more importantly a brighter display. Not to mention it is now jailbroken on 8.3 so once again it is a keeper!

  • MrJohnBlaze

    My first smartphones were a blackberry curve and a Htc legend then i played with my friends Iphone 4 since then I’ve Owned the 4,4s,5,5s, now 6 plus. The experience on any other smartphone isn’t the same nor the standby battery thats why i stay

  • Daniel Zarin

    8 years ago I was 11, and just then I got for my birthday a Nokia phone.

    I remember I was so excited LOL…
    Without a touchscreen, Snake… it was so much easier and fun then.

  • Anonomous.TECH.man

    My first actual phone was a iPhone 4s then I got a 5 now 6 plus. In between the 5 and 6 plus I had a Oneplus one my experience was great android has definitely came along way material design is very good android has transformed into a very usable OS. I really like my 6 plus despite the feeling it needs a extra gig of ram. I forgot how good IOS stand by time is though very nice. But I still feel that on IOS 8 the
    “It just works” is gone has been some really bad UI glitches over all hoping iOS 9 puts a focus on stability.

  • Blip dude

    For the Pre-iPhone days: First cell phone was a Nokia phone (2002), had a Verizon LG flip phone which I considered a dark period (2005), Had a Samsung flip phone before I was robbed (2006), then had a Samsung Juke (2007) back when 2 GB was enough to store music and didn’t quite have credit yet to be on a contract.

    Then I jumped ship to the iPhone (2008) and haven’t left since. I’m amazed that I was able to make do with 2GB of Music on the Juke when today I have at least 16GB on my iPhone 6 Plus.

  • MCTDynamic

    Never thought I would ever buy an Apple product, but the iPhone 3G was my first apple product and I was hooked on it. My last phone was a Samsung flip phone. I did switch to Android (S3) during the years because they had the removable micro SD, but the experience I had on an Android were more of an annoyance.

  • nyangejr

    iPhone’s are expensive in my country (Tanzania), we have no subsidies, mum gave me the original iPhone back in 2012, I switched it with a 3GS 3 months later, then I got a 4s in 2013, now I’m on the iPhone 6, ever since I hold that first iPhone everything changed, thought they’re expensive, the experience I get is worth my savings

  • Ray Pereyra

    My first smartphone was the LG Optimus and an update made my phone stopped charging. Took my carrier six months to issue an update. It was too late, I switched to the iPhone 4S and have never looked back. I love everything about the iPhone.

  • Pulkit Maloo

    Most of the people here have started with Nokia and then switched to Apple and never looked back 🙂
    I’m proud to be a part of the iPhone family

  • Can anyone even imagine NOT having a smartphone in your pocket?

    • iBanks

      Yes. I wear mine on my hip. 😉

  • eXoguti097

    Back when “Works like magic” was a feature… We don’t get that anymore :c

    • Ray Pereyra

      Because the phone was less complex as now. What’s so difficult to understand about that. Yes iOS 7 & 8 have been very buggy but because of the major re-doing of the OS. All these things were to be expected. Hard to have a bug free OS until you release to millions and see what broke. Go back to flip phone if you want it to work like magic.

      • eXoguti097

        “Go back to flip phone if you want it to work like magic.”

        Lol don’t be mad ’cause you didn’t get it was a joke

  • Guy

    I remember 8 years ago I made phone calls.
    Bought the iPhone 3G and my thumbs been talking (texting) ever since.

  • Julio M.

    The first iPhone I held was my uncle’s iPhone 4, I was amazed, retina display looked gorgeous. Kept killing his battery playing fruit ninja and glass tower 3. I Entered the iPhone family with a 3gs, shortly after a 4 and recently I have been using a 5s, can’t look back or use anything besides an apple smartphone.

  • iBanks

    Waited in line for 8 hours, got my iPhone and then still couldn’t activate it until the next day for whatever reason, can’t remember that part.

  • Dante Arellano

    Sony erisson p800 and p900 lg prada 2001-2004 you apple people living in your own world

    • p0is0nX

      so why are you reading this blog, just go and read the blog related to sony or LG….Apple is truly great and it also change the phone industry..

      • Dante Arellano

        Apple dont invent the smart phone as always just took some technology available and alots of marketing and it eorks just fine but don’t forget apple dont invented nathing

  • Abhinav Chaudhary

    I remember I used to pray so hard just to get my dad’s Nokia 6600, and when i got it I was so happy and it was the best day of my life. I would spend hours downloading Java games and playing them on it, back then playing a colourful game on your mobile was magic.

    Then my friend got an iPhone 3GS and I was like, what is this thing? I remember him showing me how photos on it turned based on the orientation. But it was too costly for me back then.

    Then what, I saved money bought an iPhone 4 and never used anything other than iOS. I’ve an iPhone 6 now and i still have Nokia 6600.

  • J™

    the shape of the latest iPhone now is almost the shape of the 1st original iPhone…

  • Pre-iPhone I had a number of different phones including the Motorola startac, Nokia 3210 and variations of that then my 1st color phone with polyphonic ringtones the Samsung t1 I think it was, then I had a windows “feature phone” Samsung d1, Motorola razr, loved all of those phones at the time, my first experience with an iPhone was an original iPhone that a friend got from a trip to New York, I had to jailbreak it to unlock and activate it as they weren’t available in the UK at the time, I’ve since owned all models of the iPhone excluding the 5c and haves had numerous Android phones in between, Galaxy S3, s4, s5, s6 edge, oneplus one, LG g3, xperia z1 Galaxy Note 2, 3 and 4, nexus 4, 5 and 6 (thank god for swapz!) but I’ve finally come back to my iPhone 6 plus because as good as those other phones are you can’t beat the iPhone for stability, battery, screen brightness outdoors and integration with my other products, I can’t say usability because they’re all as simple or as complex to use as you choose to make them with rooting and jailbreaking

  • Gregg

    I remember driving through Waterloo with my just-delivered iPhone 3G. “RIM” plastered on so many buildings, seemed like they owned half the town… I looked at my iPhone and thought: “RIM – Apple is SO gonna crush you…”

  • Dean_Jacobs_K712 email

    This is beyond true. I worked for AT&T and really learned all about how how they needed the price tag on the phone, sliced it down and spread it in to the plan and over a 2 year time no body notices.If you can stay grandfathered on old options do it and buy phones outright. Usually you’re pretty much getting porked