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Happy 10th anniversary iPhone!

Steve Jobs and iPhone
Steve Jobs and iPhone (Image credit: Apple)

Ten years ago our smartphones had tiny, low-res screens with resistive touch that almost required a tiny plastic stylus, physical keyboards that never changed nor went away, even when you no longer needed them, and no ability to render the modern web. Everyone, Apple thought, hated their phones. And so they made a new one. They made iPhone.

Apple had worked for over two years on the Purple Experience Project: A capacitive touch interface that made direct manipulation a reality, and on inertial scrolling and rubber banding, pinch-to-zoom and other interactions that made it a delight. With Safari, they'd brought the real web to mobile, and they reduced their then top-selling iPod down to an app. (The phone too.)

In one demo, Steve Jobs showed iPhone flowing from music to a phone call to mail and the web and back, and in so doing, blew our minds and made us want it for our own.

To say the iPhone changed everything isn't hyperbole. It's an acknowledgement of one of the most profound technological and cultural developments of our generation. You have only to look at all the screens we interact with on a daily basis today to see how much of that is due to the hard, brilliant work of Apple and the iPhone team.

Here's what Tim Cook, then head of operations, now CEO, had to say on apple.com (opens in new tab):

iPhone is an essential part of our customers' lives, and today more than ever it is redefining the way we communicate, entertain, work and live. iPhone set the standard for mobile computing in its first decade and we are just getting started. The best is yet to come.

And here's what Phil Schiller, senior Vice President of worldwide marketing then and now, had to say:

It is amazing that from the very first iPhone through to today's newest iPhone 7 Plus, it has remained the gold standard by which all other smartphones are judged. For many of us, iPhone has become the most essential device in our lives and we love it. iPhone is how we make voice and FaceTime calls, how we shoot and share Live Photos and 4K videos, how we listen to streaming music, how we use social media, how we play games, how we get directions and find new places, how we pay for things, how we surf the web, do email, manage our contacts and calendars, how we listen to podcasts, watch TV, movies and sports, and how we manage our fitness and health. iPhone has become all of these things and more. And I believe we are just getting started.

To everyone who worked on iPhone, from concept to design to development, from shipping to sales to support — thank you and congratulations. A decade and over a billion devices later, you not only made the world better but invented and inspired a tool that's helped everyone using it make the world better as well.

Happy 10th anniversary! Here's to exponentially more!

iPhone Stack

iPhone Stack (Image credit: Rene Ritchie)

I had a Treo 650 or 680 back then and ended up counting the days until iPhone was released. And then counting some more until I could actually get one. Today, I have an iPhone 7 Plus that does more for me now than my laptop did then, including helping me write and photograph almost every article I publish. What phone were you using back, what did you think when you first saw iPhone, and how are you using iPhone today?

Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

24 Comments
  • i had a HTC dash (blackberry clone) back then and i loved it and thought it was amazing at the time. when i watched the keynote where Steve unveiled the iPhone, i thought it was fake because it was so light years ahead of everything i had been using. Now it doesn't leave my hip and try to accomplish as many tasks as i can on it.
  • Happy Birthday!
  • Happy Birthday  Sent from the iMore App
  • Happy Birthday iPhone. I *think* I was using a Blackberry Curve when the iPhone was introduced. My how time flies....😎
  • Happy 10th anniversary iPhone! I had a BB Bold when I got my wife an iPhone 4. I was so impressed I stayed up until 3am to order a 4S on release day. Looking forward to replace my 6 with the anniversary iPhone later this year.
  • I was using some sort of flip phone at the time. And because I was on Verizon I couldn't get an iPhone until the iPhone 4 came to Verizon. I've been with iPhones and iPads ever since.
    Happy Birthday iPhone! And thanks to all at Apple for making it what it is, and all it does. I'm looking forward to the Tenth Anniversary Edition iPhone later this year. I can't wait!
  • Happy Birthday Apple
    Love my iPhone Sent from the iMore App
  • I had a flip phone and did not switch to an iPhone until "forced" to. The 5C was nicer than I excepted. Now I have a 6S Plus for the camera, completely replacing my old pont-and-shoot, which I never thought would happen.
  • Back then I had a T-Mobile Dash. I kept it until the iPhone 3G was released because I was under contract and couldn't afford the original iPhone plus my breakage fee at the time. I actually found my original iPhone a month or so ago. Then about 2 weeks ago the battery expanded and split the phone in two. Up until that point it still actually worked albeit not really well. Now I have a 7 Plus (and had the 6s Plus and 6 Plus before that). Since my 1st iPhone I have only switched away one time. It was for the Note 3. That experiment only lasted a whopping 3 weeks. Sent from the iMore App
  • Happy birthday iPhone! I was firmly entrenched in the Nokia world at the time and couldn't imagine why anyone would want to buy a phone with such a rubbish camera and data speeds throttled by not having 3G. Two years later I was clutching onto a white (soon to become yellow) iPhone 3GS. Whilst they didn't invent the smartphone or even the touchscreen phone, Apple completely revolutionised the mobile market. Bravo.
  • Happy birthday. I worked for Microsoft in 2007 and was forbidden from using a competing product. Had pretty much ever windows mobile phone available at one point. I left in 2012, got a 4s the day I left and have had each new model at launch. Now I'm back at Microsoft and I have my 7, Apple Watch and AirPods. Sent from the iMore App
  • I had a BlackBerry when the iPhone cane out and I was instantly intrigued. I waited two years to get my first iPhone, the 3GS.
    It wasn't love at first sight. It grew on me slowly. But by the iPhone 5S, I was in.
    Ive been getting the latest model every year since 2009. I now have my iPhone 7 Plus and I love it.
    Ready for the next one.....can't wait.
  • I didn't come onboard to iPhone until the 3GS. Prior to that I had a number of Windows Mobile devices, usually HTC handsets. I remember having the HTC DIamond and then Diamond 2 immediately before moving over. I didn't move for the iPhone directly, I moved for the ecosystem. Other mobile phones were so fractured in terms of install base that you couldn't get car-docks for them, or reliable satnav software (both were essential for me, and still are). The opposition has come a long way, but Apple's walled garden still edges it for me personally. From that initial 3GS purchase I have since bought 5 Macs, about 6 iPads, almost every subsequent iPhone, 3 AppleTVs and a launch-day Watch. I love the dual camera system on the 7+.
  • happy birthday apple 🍾📱
  • I was using the Nokia E63 and it was wonderful compared to other devices. I didn't get the first iPhone only because it was just an EDGE device and I really didn't need a new one of those but the next one being the 3G and I was hooked and have been ever since.
  • I had the Samsung U700. My brother who worked for O2 called me and said they were in stock and he could get me one for a decent price. I remember not being bothered about it. I had an iPod which I used but didn't think Apple would make a decent phone. Still, my phone was damaged and my iPod on its way out so I thought why not, if I don't like it I can sell it.... boy was I wrong! Since then I've had the 2G, 3Gs, 4 and 4s. I then had a rebellious stage and bought the HTC One but as of last year I'm back on the 6s waiting for the 7a (or what ever Apple call it) Sent from the iMore App
  • I had an LG flip phone at the time. Wouldn't get a smartphone until Android released the following year. Wouldn't get an iPhone until the iPhone 4 released in 2010. That's when iPhone expanded carriers. I would bounce between Android and iPhone for about 4 years, having owned and used every iPhone since the 4. Then in 2014 the iPhone 6 released and that's when I went fully iPhone and haven't looked back. Currently with the 7S Plus.
  • I had just spent $600 on an HTC 6800 a couple months prior to the iPhone announcement. I didn't get my first iPhone until the 3gs release and I haven't looked back since. If you told me that one day I would be able to start papers for school or write blog posts on my phone, I would have called you a liar. At its core, my iPhone is still what Steve Job first envisioned but it has expanded to become a very important and integral part of my life.
  • I remember it well, mind completely blown. I had to watch the video twice just to make sure I got it all and got it right. Suddenly, my new Treo didn't look all that advanced anymore. Thinking back, the funniest thing were the pre and post announcement remarks and coverage. Going in, there were renderings that jokingly had an iPod taped to a cellphone and a regular Nokia style candy bar phone with a click wheel interface. . After, they were quickly forgotten. Competitors were skeptical and focused on it being limited to AT&T and only having a 2G network chipset. Others said that they would never launch it as quickly as they did. But they did. They did change the world and the industry. Think about all of the names that are distant memories - Nokia, Ericsson, Qualcomm, RIM, Palm, Handspring, Sony. And think about what's left of the competition. Motorola was a giant and has been bought and discarded twice. LG, HTC and Samsung all ran to Google for cover and only Samsung is standing as any sort of competitor to Apple. After 10 years, it's hard to not take it all for granted.
  • I had a Treo 650.
    I didn't jump on the iPhone bandwagon until iPhone could match with my Treo could do... iPhone 3GS....
    after that there was no going back. Or going sideways. Sent from the iMore App
  • At the time I was using a Motorola Razr. It had iTunes software, but only held 50 songs, haha. Sent from the iMore App
  • Everyone's got a story to tell..... I wonder if employees were given free stuff for this .. They serve it with all the this work. I was using Nokia Navigator 6210, Motorola V3 Razr, Nokia 3315 ,and then a Samsung clamp-shell phone before starting with an iPhone
  • Happy birthday iPhone!, I was using a Samsung Blackjack 2, and like other people have said here, I counted the days till I was able to buy the iPhone.
  • Happy 10