The Apple iPhone changed history forever. It was the first touchscreen phone that didn’t require a stylus and had a glass display. The history of the iPhone has been well documented but I wanted to talk about my experiences with the first few models which I hold near and dear to my heart.
The iPhone was announced the year I graduated from college in 2007. Later that summer, in my slog of a job search, I landed a job as a Genius at an Apple Store (the original one in Tyson’s Corner in fact). Soon after, I landed a full time job at Under Armour, which under the urging of my grandma, forced me to quit that job at Apple. But, as part of my training, I got to learn the brand new iPhone inside and out – I did pull a couple of shifts on the floor before I had to quit.
The original first generation iPhone was a two tone metal and plastic black slab. It had a glass display with only one button on the front – the Home button. It would keep this general design for the next two models (only switching out the back to be all plastic for the 3G and 3GS model). My first iPhone was the 3G, followed by the iPhone 4 a couple of years later. Both of those models I hold very near and dear to my heart. That device opened my eyes to what was really possible and gave me a very real sense of awe. I remember downloading a song to my device – without a computer!- in the middle of a field while playing fetch with my dog Marcy and thinking “Wow, this is really neat!”. My phone prior to this was a Motorola Q – one of my few tech purchasing mistakes but also a great representative of what was currently available at the time.
While I liked my iPhone 3G, the plastic back was not durable at all, even inside a case. The iPhone 4 really changed my perception as it was a new outside design. Now a glass back, the frame bordering both glass sides was exposed and stainless steel. It was a beautiful design and I still think it’s one of the best iPhone models out there. Apple would eventually pivot to metal backs for years before returning with glass backs for wireless charging. With just an “bumper” case, you could feel the front and back of the device in your hand and not interfere with the camera. The camera in the iPhone 4 was MUCH better than any models prior and finally cemented the iPhone as a photography tool.
With the introduction of the better camera and the advent of the App Store, the weak point in this device was storage. iPhones used flash storage, which was more expensive at the time than the small hard drives they used in iPods. Because of this, I kept my iPod around to hold as much as possible while offloading some of the music to my iPhone. It would take a few years for storage to finally catch up to my needs and I have switched over to spotify and streaming music by then to get around that limitation.
While the iPhone has really grown in size over the years, I still feel lots of nostalgia holding the original and iPhone 4. I’m fortunate to experience and own those and I am grateful I can revisit those feelings of awe and joy using those devices daily. It is wild to me how I can also define stages of my life by what devices I was using at the time.