It’s hard to imagine the world without smartphones as today marks the iPhone’s 10th anniversary.
Over a billion have been sold making it one of the most successful products in history.
We’ve seen it get smaller, sleeker, and smarter. Few products can claim to have influenced our lives in quite the same way.
Its cultural significance, according to Justin McGurk, the Design Museum’s Chief Curator, cannot be underestimated.
“I think the iPhone is one of the most significant pieces of design of the early 21st century.
iphone 1st generation
iPhone 6 and 6 plus
“The fact that it’s often the first thing we pick up in the morning and the last thing we look at night. That we look at it about 80 times a day, it has influenced so many other mobile devices and it revolutionised human behaviour.
“It is absolutely iconic. If you look at all the smartphones on the market today they are all in some form imitations or improvements on the iPhone – it changed phones.”
Image: Steve Jobs unveils Apple’s iPhone in 2007
Arguably the product’s popularity has waned from the fan-boy adoration that was present in its early years but for most of us the smartphone is now an essential.
Brian Merchant, author of The One Device, describes it as “the pinnacle product of capitalism to this point”.
“It’s one billion plus sold of one particular unit of one brand and the profit margin on these things are so high that Apple can reap vast revenue streams.
Image: The iPhone has become slicker
“We have to keep buying, we have to keep refreshing this product, that’s a key part of the whole regime too.”
It was British designer Sir Jonathan Ive who managed to make something practical elegant with the phone’s minimalist aesthetic.
He took away clunky buttons, with a series of swipes and pinches we now access the world.
It is a design that will be forever identified with our era. For some though, Apple’s determination to keep selling us stuff, is a source of frustration.
Image: The iPhone 3G
“Because Apple is a hardware company it wants you to buy more Apple hardware,” says technology journalist Kate Bevan.
“As well as buying an iPhone you now need an Apple-made headphones adaptor to use your headphones with, that really annoys people.”
Whether you own an iPhone anymore or not, its design will be forever associated with our times, remembered for how it set the basic standard for smartphones which have transformed our lives.