10 years ago today, Steve Jobs walked on stage and introduced the world to the iPhone. Without exaggeration, the iPhone forever changed the way we interact with technology, and more broadly speaking, how millions of people across the world live their lives. Everything we use our smartphones for today, whether it be browsing the web, watching movies, downloading apps on the cheap, taking eye-popping photographs, none of it would have been possible without the original iPhone.
Even though many of the technologies that shaped the original iPhone were not Apple inventions — with multitouch being a prime example — Apple’s iPhone brought said technologies into the mainstream for the very first time. Even the shape of the original iPhone itself — a rectangle with rounded corners — would soon become the blueprint for nearly all other smartphone manufacturers on the planet. And even though the original iPhone lacked a number of important features at launch, such as support 3G, cut and paste, and a compelling camera, it was nonetheless as impactful and significant of a product as we’ve seen over the last three decades.
In light of the iPhone’s 10th anniversary, we’ve gone back in time and have scoured the web for some of the first things that people said about the iPhone, not only after Steve Jobs introduced it, but also what some of the first reviews had to say about the device. Interestingly enough, not all of the first impressions and reviews were overwhelmingly positive.
Final verdict: There’s no denying the wow factor, but overall the iPhone isn’t worth the money. For $300 I’d give it the thumbs up, but at $600 you’re better off with something else for half the price.
I just need to get it out of the way: Words cannot describe how incredibly wonderful this thing feels to touch and hold. It is an absolute marvel of engineering. Gorgeous in every way.
Amazingly, just about all facets of the phone’s software work as advertised. Switching from the browser back to the Home screen is a snap; hitting the Home button the middle of a YouTube video is also a snap. Have I mentioned yet that this seems to be a device designed and engineered by angels? Because it is.
The high resolution screen is gorgeous. Helvetica has never, ever looked so good on screen. Everything is very fast, very responsive. When you drag something — whether it’s the slider button to unlock the phone, a zoomed-in photograph, or a web page — the drag keeps up with your finger. I haven’t found a single element of the iPhone UI that doesn’t feel super-snappy. The whole thing feels very realistic.
SAFARI: Excellent mobile web browser. Double-tap to zoom in and out just works, at least on the pages I tried. iPhone Safari seems hyper-aggressive about keeping a low memory and resource footprint. For example, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of cache for the back button; going back loads the page again.
The Peanut Gallery – “no stylus or keyboard?!”
Going back to Jobs’ iPhone unveiling, some comments and fan reactions from a January 2007 Engadget post are hilarious to look back at:
Apparently none of you guys realize how bad of an idea a touch-screen is on a phone. I foresee some pretty obvious and pretty major problems here.
I’ll be keeping my Samsung A707, thanks. It’s smaller, it’s got a protected screen, and it’s got proper buttons. And it’s got all the same features otherwise. (Oh, but it doesn’t run a bloatware OS that was never designed for a phone.)
Color me massively disappointed.
And a few more for good measure:
Im not impressed with the iPhone. As a PDA user and a Windows Mobile user, this thing has nothing on my phone. It sure is good at what it was designed for, a phone that entertains and talks… other than that, i dont see much potential. How the hell am I suppose to put appointments on the phone with no stylus or keyboard?! I can sync it with my computer, but when Im on the go, I cant do either!
No thanks Apple. Make a real PDA please….
Of course, not everyone can see the future when it’s presented to them.
Touch screen buttons? BAD idea. This thing will never work.
Wow! An update to the ROCKR! Cool. Oops….(akward.)
And speaking of folks who couldn’t appreciate that the iPhone was the future, here’s an old classic featuring former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
BlackBerry was shocked, but not worried
As detailed in Jacquie McNish’s 2015 book, Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry Hardcover, BlackBerry executives were so taken with the iPhone that they initially didn’t even believe the device was technologically feasible.
Mike Lazaridis, the founder and vice chairman of BlackBerry at the time, was watching the televised report from his treadmill.
“How did they do that?” Lazaridis famously wondered while watching Jobs’ iPhone introduction. Lazardis also thought that all of the iPhone’s functionality would ultimately “collapse the network.”
After imploring co-CEO Jim Balsillie to watch the iPhone introduction, Balsillie responded, “It’s OK. We’ll be fine.”
Nokia welcomed Apple with open arms
Nokia marketing chief Johan Eidhagen welcomed Apple’s foray into the smartphone space.
“I think it’s good for the industry,” Eidhagen said. “It’s confirming what we’ve been trying to do at Nokia. We’ve been saying for the last eight years this would change from a phone market into something else. It has become an Internet industry and Apple is just confirming that with this phone.”
Writing for PC Mag, Bajarin was very impressed with the original iPhone.
Multi-touch, as Apple has deployed it here, is a revolutionary user interface and, as with using a mouse for the first time, takes some getting used to. I found that it was very responsive, but I have fat fingers, and in some instances that caused my navigation to be less precise and initiated actions that I did not want. But once you get the hang of it, it works flawlessly. This is especially true of the virtual keyboard. I had to get used to the way any text key is activated, but it was not difficult to learn to make it work well. Also, it uses predictive text software, so many times when you type in a word or even a name from your contacts list, it fetches what it thinks you want. I found that most of the time it was smart enough to know the word or name I was actually trying to type.