James Bond or Mission Impossible films we have come to expect baddies in high-security
campuses with the good guys trying to sneak past the security with fake
fingerprints or replica eyeball signatures. It all seems a bit fanciful and
while I am sure we all enjoy the unbelievable notion of it, we dismiss it as
‘stuff that happens in the movies that is not vaguely related to anything that
happens in real life’ and just sit back and enjoy the movie.

don’t normally focus on specific products in this column but with the Australian
launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 occurring today, it is worth looking at
some of the features of this latest smartphone 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 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.

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.

that first smartphone and now jump forward to today. With manufacturers across
the world chasing the lead set by Apple – and Apple themselves continuing their
path of innovation – this particular market segment has seen incredible
advancement and growth.

release of the latest smartphone today sees an entirely different beast when
compared to the revolution started in 2007.

latest phone to market wraps 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. Phones for a couple of
years have been using fingerprint access but this phone goes a step further. In
addition to fingerprint scanning, you can access the phone using the built-in
iris scanner – which is accurate enough to scan your eyes through glasses or
contact lenses. A mere 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! The heart rate sensor on the phone is one thing but there is also an Sp02
– or oxygen saturation level sensor. Can you picture a health check app that
you can use from the comfort of your lounge room? With an accelerometer; gyro;
proximity sensor; compass and barometer it is hard to imagine what this 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 5.7-inch screen. That isn’t a typo – 5.7 inches of
screen real estate for a massive 79 per cent screen to body ratio and that
original 320 x 430 display has been increased to 1440 x 2560. All in a body
less than 8mm thick.

camera technology on phones has increased to the point that they are better
than many dedicated cameras and this phone is no different. A 12-megapixel
camera is not the best on the market but still very impressive and is capable
of 4K video while simultaneously taking 9-megapixel photos. If you thought
getting through a day of talking was good with the original smartphone, the 38
hours of talk time on this model should impress you. 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! This impressive battery life is even
more impressive when you consider that at the heart of the phone is a
dual-processor running at 2.15GHz.

Apple set to launch their latest iPhone at the end of September, let the
smartphone wars continue with the ultimate winners being the consumers who get
to use these fantastic products.

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 people who
forget you can still actually talk to people. 

Mathew Dickerson

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