a plethora of new smartphones having been released into the Australian market
recently – including the iPhone 7; the Google Pixel; the Sony XZ and the
ill-fated Note 7 – I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the
features of these latest smartphones with a comparison back to the beginning of
the market segment.

phone that started it all was the Apple iPhone. It was introduced in the US on
29 June 2007 with a typically creative Apple slogan that promised a lot – and
delivered. “This is only the beginning. Apple reinvents the phone.” Considering
where we are today, it is hard to believe that it has only been nine years
since thousands of people lined up outside Apple stores to be one of the first
to own an iPhone. To say the world was ready is a massive understatement. It
only took 74 days for one million phones to be sold and seventeen-year-old
George Hotz had his fifteen minutes of fame when he exchanged the first
unlocked iPhone for three locked iPhones and a Nissan 350Z! The current count
for iPhone sales is over one billion!

the standards we have today, the first iPhone does not sound that impressive.
Data was only available via the GPRS and EDGE networks and despite the fact
that there were 200 million 3G subscribers across the planet, the phone could
not take advantage of this technology. The first models were only available in
a 4GB version and an 8GB version (slightly smaller than the modern 256GB

phone had a 3.5-inch screen at a 52 per cent screen to body ratio and the
resolution was only 320×430 pixels. The 2-megapixel camera was good for basic
photos but no video was available. At 135 grams and almost 12mm thick, it was
relatively bulky and the 412MHz processor didn’t set the world on fire. With 8
hours of talk time, it was enough to get people through most days. The concept
and specifications were good enough that Time Magazine officially declared the
iPhone the Invention of the Year.

latest phones to market wrap up the best of what we have seen over those nine
years and would be completely at home in the hands of Ethan Hunt or 007. For a
start, to access the phone you don’t need a password. Biometric access – via
fingerprints and iris scanning – is available on a product we can buy off the
shelf. A mere touch or glance at your phone and it is unlocked and ready to
use. The sensory equipment on the phone is quite incredible and I can see app developers
frothing at the mouth with excitement in working out apps that will take advantage
of these sensors. As with many off the million+ apps available today, they will
have absolutely no practical use – but they will be really cool! With heart
rate sensors and Sp02 – or oxygen saturation level sensors – I can picture a
health check app that you can use from the comfort of your lounge room. With accelerometers;
gyros; proximity sensors; compass and barometer it is hard to imagine what a
modern phone can’t measure.

cruel fate that often awaited a shiny new phone was…moisture. Not anymore. Many
of the latest phones have an IP68 rating which means they can withstand 1.5 metres
of water for 30 minutes and the Corning Gorilla Glass helps reduce the likelihood
of damaging the huge screens with up to 80 per cent screen to body ratios and
that original 320 x 430 display has been increased up to 1440 x 2560 in a chassis
that is typically less than 8mm thick.

camera technology on phones has increased to the point that they are better
than many dedicated cameras with cameras ranging from 12-megapixels to
23-megapixels with 4K video capabilities.

you thought getting through a day of talking was good with the original smartphone,
compare that to 38 hours of talk time on some modern models. It is hard to
believe that the first mobile phones I sold back in 1990 had to come with two
batteries to get you through a single day of standby! The impressive battery
life is even more remarkable when you consider the phones have dual-processors
running at over 2.15GHz.

last feature is only a rumour and I can’t confirm this yet but apparently these
latest phones are also capable of actually making and receiving phone calls!
With so many features on a modern phone, I am sure there are some who forget
you can still actually talk to people. 

Mathew Dickerson

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