The Smartphone was Dumb before the iPhone

Apple's iPhone revolutionised the Smartphone industry, as manufacturers played catch up 10 years after its release.

The Smartphone was an incredible step for the mobile phone world, in the past we were saddled with dumb phones that merely sent texts, made calls and provided us with no additional features. The first smartphone really only came to be in 2001. Although some may claim that IBM has this first crown through its “Simon Personal Communicator” or "Simon" but that device had no access to an internet connection, GPS, WiFi, Camera, Colour Display or any of the features we associate with modern Smartphones today. 

Once phones began to have access to an internet connection it became possible for the user to view emails, browse the web, make purchases and connect to others beyond traditional means. That is where the modern smartphone as we know it today started. This is the period where Smartphone manufacturers such as RIM, Nokia, Siemens and others really came into their stride packing all they could into their devices.

From a Wide Selection, To Nothing at All. 

There was a smattering of smartphone operating systems at the time, it was a very different world than today where only Android and iOS exist. Then there was Maemo, Windows Mobile, Palm OS, Symbian, Blackberry OS, Java, DangerOS, Linux and many more. However, although we may look fondly at the early to mid 2000’s as a time of nostalgia phones at the time were rather poor when compared to their modern counterparts today. Many of these devices had poor battery life, no app support, confusing and often disjointed user interfaces (Think of how we take threaded text messaging for granted nowadays).

Windows Mobile was probably one of the worst operating systems of the period. The OS struggled to run on the available processors at the time regularly bogging down even the most advanced phones of the period. As Windows Mobile was designed for a stylus many of the iconography was tiny, and especially in smaller screen phones completely illegible to the user. The operating system was also poorly designed, resulting in users having to navigate a maze of interfaces merely to turn on GPS. This resulted in manufacturers at the time such as LG, HTC, Samsung and Sony having to heavily skin and redesign Windows Mobile to merely make it palatable for the user, however, as these phones were so significantly changed the experience varied wildly from phone to phone despite the operating systems being the same. Leading to users to have to relearn how to correctly use their new device. However, again the changes to the OS led crashes and freezing to become common place among Windows Mobile devices. 

Introduction of the iPhone. A Game Changer. 

With the advent of the iPhone in 2007 the Smartphone world essentially changed overnight, however these changes would not be fully felt until 2008 when in June the iPhone 3G was announced. Compared to its contemporaries the iPhone was sleeker, faster, more feature rich and had an App Store. Despite others at the time having stores such as Nokia’s Ovi Store. They had significantly less apps and many did not have direct support of Apps such as Facebook and Gmail. The iPhone was also significantly more reliable, had better customer service and had a larger display whose keyboard could appear digitally allowing the user to choose what keys they wanted to appear on the display. This feature made it far easier for the user to write exclamation marks, or use semi colons or any other aspect of grammar. 

Although today we may regard as Smartphones of the past as being spiritual successors of what we have today they are not. They were rugged and primitive, they struggled to perform even basic tasks reliably and quickly. A smartphone of the period couldn’t replace an iPod, Camera, PDA, PSP and internet communicator as one can today.

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