It's been less than a decade but it changed everything

iphone eight years on

It’s hard to believe that just a decade ago there was no such thing as the iPhone. But eight years and 10 models later, here we are, with the launch of the iPhone 7 soon to be upon us and more than 700 million units sold around the world.

Even if you don’t use an iPhone, any smartphone you own now or in the future will have been inspired and impacted by Steve Jobs’ revolutionary mobile. Here are just some of the ways the iPhone rewrote the rules:

The big screen

Before iPhones, even smart phones had a keypad, which severely limited the size of the screen. The solution: abolish the keypad! This was probably the single biggest issue haters had to overcome – I know I did. The idea of tappy-tapping on the screen seemed far fetched to me and I was reasonably confident it wouldn’t catch on. Ahem.

A home page

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Remember how you had to press back, back, back to get to the picture of your kids or cat? Previous phones seemed to be designed to hide whatever you were looking for at the moment you needed it. That one-button reset to home means even if you’re completely lost, it’s easy to start from the beginning.


How on earth did we survive without them? Again I was late to jump on this craze (story of my life) but just this week I have used apps to get to places, share photos with friends, tune my ukelele and magnify the writing on a tiny scrap of packaging. From puzzles to pelvic-floor exercises, there is practically an app for everything and I struggle to remember how I did these things BI (before iPhone).

For the record, I’m well aware that Android phones have apps too but we all know the iPhone started it.

Messages that keep on going

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As the Irish Examiner quips, “some phones had it, but iPhone made it good”.  This simple readjustment to how text messages are stored – that is, combining them into one thread – is both convenient and sensible.

Access to the internet

Before iPhones there were BlackBerries and that kind of thing, which were designed for business people who needed access to emails on the go. Today, any old fool with an iPhone can easily look up the address of a restaurant or pull out their phone to win a dinner-party argument. Again, Apple didn’t invent it, but they made it easy and the rest followed suit.

So what’s next for the iPhone

The iPhone has just enjoyed its eighth anniversary and already eyes are looking forward to the next model. Reports say the iPhone 7 will do away with the Home button (oh no!) and instead move to what’s known as Force Touch technology, where the screen will recognise how hard you press the screen and function depending on the pressure (I’m dubious).

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But there are promises of more durability and an improved camera (oh yes!) and we’re really hoping they will come good on promises to improve the life of the battery.

And what’s next for us?

Reflecting on the staggering advances of smartphones in less than a decade makes us think about other life-changing technologies that will take place in our lifetime.

Self-parking cars are already on the market, while driverless vehicles are just around the corner. Credit cards could disappear in favour of phones or microchips, dentures could be replaced by injections that regrow teeth, and we could be using our Apple Watch instead of a passport.

As futurist Arthur C Clarke once wrote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

What do you love/hate about the iPhone? Were you an “early adopter” or a late bloomer? Or do you shun the Apple phone all together?