This week, Apple followed up last year’s mid-product cycle release of the iPhone SE with a couple of small, but welcomed additions to the iPhone linuep. While they were modest enough to not warrant an event of their own, and instead just a press release and rollout in the online Apple Store, they are still definitely worth talking about.
It seems like the rumors of an iPhone 8 with an edge-to-edge screen, no Home Button and TouchID integrated into the display are getting to the point where that are looking less like rumors, and more like legitimate leaks. Apple has now been awarded a patent for technology covering a fingerprint sensor integrated into a screen for authentication.
In Part I of Ten Year In, we talked about Steve Jobs’ iconic original iPhone announcement in January of 2007, and how it looks in the light of history. Ten years is a perfect time to look back at where it all started. Now let’s go from there up to the present. Where are we now, and how did we get here? Let’s take a look.
It snuck up on me. New iOS devices have come and gone, new features have been revealed (and in a few notable cases, removed), and a titan of the electronic age has passed from this world. However, until I got reminder a couple of weeks ago while listening to Leo Laporte’s TWIT podcast, I had forgotten that we have officially reached the ten year anniversary of Steve Jobs’ tour de force announcement of the iPhone. There is something momentous about the passage of a decade, especially in the fast-moving realm of technology, making this a perfect time to both look back at what was, and also forward to the future.
A Personal Note
In a personal sense, what stands out to me is my own hubris at the time of the announcement. I certainly wasn’t alone in this, but it makes me laugh at myself a bit in hindsight. I had heard the rumors. I knew about the impending announcement of a big new piece of Apple hardware. However, even though I had dipped my toe into their ecosystem for the first time with a couple of iPods, I wasn’t interested. Not even a little. I was a longtime Windows Mobile PDA and Smartphone user with all of the accompanying apps and accessories. I was on XDA Forums when the original XDA actually existed, and Android was still just a glimmer in Andy Rubin’s eye. I had modded firmware and hacked and skinned, and anything else possible. I was so disinterested in Apple’s inevitable phone, that I didn’t actually see or hear Steve Jobs’ presentation until a few years later. I read the early reports on the event, and then the pre-release reviews later on as the release approached, but my interest in a new platform with no ability to load applications was lukewarm, at best through the majority of 2007.
See if this sounds familiar to you? Â You heard that the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were going to look the same as the last two iPhones Apple released. Â There aren’t going to be any great new features released, because the 10 year anniversary of the iPhone is next year, and they are saving all theÂ best to celebrate the big day. Â So, then why were pre-orders slipping weeks after launch day 15 minutes after pre-orders began? Â It couldn’t be because people were actually buying the new iPhones? Â Maybe Apple just didn’t make enough on purpose? Â Believe what you’d like, but from what the carriers have been reporting, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were a big hit, and broke many launch day records.
So where does that leave you if you were hoping to secure a new iPhone 7 or 7 Plus ASAP? Â That depends on which iPhone you were looking to purchase. Â Just like it is every year that a new color option is offered, the Matte Black and Jet Black versionsÂ are in high demand–especially the Jet Black, do to the extensive and meticulous Â process used to create theÂ glossy finish.
I have been an iPhone owner since the very first one was released in June of 2007. Â I, like many others, was captivated by this computer in my pocket, and was extremely excited about its potential. Â I have been able to finagle my way into buying an iPhone every years since than, except for the iPhone 3G–I wasn’t eligible for an upgrade since I purchased the first gen iPhone a few months before the 3G was released. Â I have been an early adopter, and have either pre-ordered and picked up on launch day, or purchased a new iPhone at an Apple Store the day it went on sale.
This year, however, the planets didn’t align properly for me to make that happen on time. Â I was up at 2:45 to pre-order, but both the Apple and AT&T servers were strained past their limits, pushing my delivery time out 1-2 weeks for my 128 GB 7 Plus in Black. Â Between Apple’s “iconic design” being good enough for the masses and those consumers who had theirÂ upgrade cycles fall on this year, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus was still in high demand. Â As I watched others cheer with delight as they tracked and received theirÂ new iPhones, all I could do was wait–until yesterday. Â My new iPhone was delivered over a week ahead of schedule, and so far, I couldn’t be happier. Â Let me share with you some of my initial thoughts and observations after only one day of use.
I’m sticking with my 6S Plus this year, but I was talking with a friend of mine yesterday about his pending iPhone 7 Plus. We were discussing the features he was most looking forward to, and what he thought of the change in the home button from a physical to a haptic control. My friend was looking forward to the changes, but expressed something that surprised me: that the iPhone 7 isn’t new enough because it doesn’t have a dramatically different physical design.
I have trouble with this aspect because, to me, the iPhone has always been about what it enables me to do. I do like the physical design and I do still find myself drawn to the pure white front and curves on the 6S Plus, but I still see the similarly-shaped iPhone 7 â€” especially the 7 Plus â€” as a new device.
TheÂ internals have changed enough that there should be significant differences in whereÂ and howÂ you can use this new iPhone.
The removal of the 3.5mm jack comes as no major surprise due to all of the advanced leaks, but it’s still a fact that will take a while for even the most die-hard Apple fans to digest. The ubiquity of the 3.5mm headphone jack has been something we’ve all come expect in electronic devices, but it’s also at odds with consumer expectations that devices should get thinner, lighter, and faster every year. Every once in a while something has to give to make space for major new features, and this time it was the headphone jack’s turn.
The iPhone wasn’t the device to get me interested in photography. I’d always had a passing interest in being able to take pictures wherever I was, and I purchased the Sony Ericsson K750i for exactly that reason. It had a 2 Megapixel camera with auto-focus, and it was really freeing to be able to whip out a camera without dealing with any extra bulk.
The iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5S, and the 6S Plus served me well, and carried on in the tradition of the K750i. They were my everyday cameras and I snapped shots simply to preserve memories, and also to try and take some beautiful pictures. Every iPhone upgrade made strides towards higher overall image quality, and better low-light performance. Alongside the speed improvements, imaging was the biggest reasons I’d shell out for a new iPhone every two years.
Iâ€™ve spent a good nine months with the iPhone 6S Plus. I didnâ€™t go for Appleâ€™s larger phone when they released the first iteration. I liked having an iPhone that was large enough to read on, but small enough to remain pocketable with any pair of pants. But battery life issues (caused by my Apple Watch) and curiosity eventually overcame me. I had to see what the fuss was all about and see for myself whether the larger screen really was a game changer.
Da Bigger Screen
Itâ€™s usually Appleâ€™s powerful marketing campaigns that convince me that I really should try their shiny new thing. But in the case of the iPhone 6S Plus, it was actually my friends that were the biggest influence. I have a lot of non-techie friends at work who donâ€™t normally care about which device they keep in their pockets, but the larger phone really made a difference to them. They used the 1920 X 1080 screen for quick references during presentations, viewed storyboards, and even wrote articles on the thing.