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The Apple iPhone is 15 years old

A widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communicator

People forget that, when Steve Jobs announced the device in January 2007, the industry was awash with handsets featuring tiny screens and fiddly keyboards.

With its then-huge 3.5in multitouch display and built-in accelerometer, the iPhone challenged an industry bereft of innovation. Most rivals scoffed. Wisely, Google changed course, reworking its in-progress Android hardware and software to follow Apple’s lead.

Check out Apple’s original iPhone press release as well as our original iPhone review from late 2007 and hands-on review from the main iPhone launch in the US from January 2007.

Will iOS become more open in future like Android? Things might be changing, given the lawsuits on that subject that Apple is currently facing. Oddly, though, the original iPhone was at once very closed and very open. Apple’s plan was for developers to use web apps to extend its functionality – the definition of an open ecosystem.

But people complained, the jailbreaking community showed what was possible with native apps, and the company relented. A year later, the first new app on every iPhone was the App Store. And then presumably something to make fart noises.

In sheer numbers, Android dominates due to its prevalence on cheap devices. But in places like the US and UK, Apple is actually ahead. The real winner, though, is the iPhone vision of a little blank canvas that can be anything.

“A widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone; a breakthrough internet communicator. Are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device – and we are calling it iPhone.”

Steve Jobs, 9 January 2007

The black rectangle took over, ousting cameras, music players, e-readers, consoles, TVs, musical instruments and even PCs from people’s lives. Soon, your entire existence will comprise you, a chair and a black rectangle. Funny how a device that revolutionised tech led to so much of it looking exactly the same.

Three months after launch, Apple binned the 4GB iPhone and lopped $200 off the 8GB one. Early buyers griped; Apple gave them $100 credit. There’s a moral here, but we’re not sure what it is.

Watch Steve Jobs unveil the original iPhone at Macworld 2007 here: