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How much of a phone nerd am I? Every so often I like to head over to YouTube and watch the event that took place 16 years ago today. A brilliant introduction by the late Steve Jobs unveiled iPhone at Macworld. And no, Apple didn’t invent the smartphone similar to how the Beatles didn’t invent rock; they just took what was out there and made it much much better.
Years later it was learned that on January 9th, 2007, Apple employees were tense because the iPhone unit that Jobs was going to display at the event was buggy. Only 100 units had been built by this point and many were not working or had cosmetic problems. Reportedly, some original iPhone team members were passing around a flask at the unveiling since they were worried that the iPhone in Jobs’ hand wouldn’t work correctly.

The unveiling of the iPhone went better than Apple employees could have dared hope for

But as you know by now, 16 years later, everything worked like a charm. And Jobs was in control. He was funny and confident and knew in his heart that the device he was holding up for all to see was going to change the world. And of course, it did.

A little more than a week after Steve passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2011, Apple unveiled the iPhone 4s which introduced Siri and once again changed the industry with the advent of the virtual digital assistant. While the iPhone 5s wasn’t the first smartphone to sport a fingerprint scanner, it was the first to make the biometric scanner a regular everyday smartphone feature. But after the iPhone 5s, Apple started chasing the larger screens available on Android phones.
In 2011, Samsung introduced the Galaxy Note, the first smartphone to flaunt a screen larger than 5 inches. And that led more Android manufacturers to design larger-screened phones which led Apple to introduce the iPhone 6 Plus in 2014. The regular iPhone 6 featured a 4.7-inch display while the iPhone 6 Plus was equipped with a 5.5-inch screen. And things pretty much stayed that way until the iPhone X was launched in 2017.

The iPhone X came with the TrueDepth Camera allowing iPhone users to use their faces to unlock their phones. A new design and an OLED panel took the device into a new era. Apple produced an iPhone carrying a 6.5-inch display with the iPhone XS Max and increased the size to 6.7 inches with the iPhone 12 Pro Max which the largest iPhone screen size available today.

Back then, no one cared about the specs

Last year’s four models included the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Next year Apple is expected to be the first and possibly only phone manufacturer to use a 3nm chip for the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Ultra. Those two premium models might feature a titanium body and the iPhone 15 Ultra could be the first iPhone model to use a periscope camera to deliver a more ambitious optical zoom.

These are things that no one discussed back in 2007. Back then no one cared about which chipset was under the hood or the size of the battery or how thick the bezels were. In fact, no one cared about the rear camera sensor and how many MP it was. These were all things that consumers would care about later once they got a better idea of what they wanted from a smartphone.

And today you can walk through a busy city street and find most people looking down at their handsets. The smartphone has become the most indispensable tool in the average person’s toolbox. The iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone but it did pave the way for today’s models. And for those who aren’t phone enthusiasts and wouldn’t know what a Galaxy S22 Ultra or a OnePlus 11 is if it fell on their heads (ouch!), speak to them about an iPhone and they will know exactly what you’re talking about.

So we say Happy 16th Birthday to the iPhone as it enjoys its sweet sixteen celebration.

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