'My electronic Swiss army knife': readers on 10 years of the iPhone

Revolutionary, life-changing... a bit annoying? Guardian readers around the world on a decade of iPhones and the wider smartphone revolution

‘They got the fundamentals absolutely right’

Lots of people seemed to think it was hopelessly complicated, or hopelessly simple — and definitely hopelessly expensive. I think a few of us geeks realised that it was a breakthrough for useable mobile computing, but I don’t think anyone really saw that devices like the iPhone would become the main computing device for almost everyone, and would work their way into so many areas of people’s lives so quickly.

Its mobile internet was a bit slow, and its camera wasn’t up to much, but it was still ahead of its time. They got the fundamentals absolutely right. Like the Mac in 1984 for desktop computers, it defined the user interface paradigm for touch-screen computers.

They’ve added a lot of convenience that we take for granted. We might have lost the capacity for coping with more than three seconds without some sort of mental stimulation, but I’m not sure that’s so bad.

Paul Waite, Croydon, UK

‘I show her the egg’

I was using Nokia phones and a Palm Pilot, but began seeing friends using and enjoying iPhones. I eventually bought the 3rd generation.

Now, I use FaceTime every morning to let my wife know her boiled egg is ready, so she should come downstairs. I show her the egg.

Your egg’s ready.
Your egg’s ready. Photograph: GuardianWitness

John Hughes, Sweden

‘It’s a different world’

About 20 years ago, while mulling over a mobile phone purchase, I thought what I need is something more than just a phone. A sort of complete pocket tool that combines listening to music, dictation and communication. It would have a head set and be as hands-free as possible.

Ten years on, the iPhone arrived, and I was the first in my circle to buy one. It and I became a bit of a curiosity. Opinion was divided, but I had no doubts: my electronic Swiss army knife had arrived.

I guess we’ve always lived in the virtual world of imagination, language and culture. Access to the digital world through iPhone has extended this immensely. But is it for the better? It’s different world for sure.

Christian Küsters, London, UK

‘The defined an entire era of computing’

On the 10th Anniversary of the iPhone I decided to dust off my old iPhone 2G and use it as my daily driver for a day. While much slower than today’s models, I’m impressed how well the software has held up. The Apple Watch on my wrist is much more powerful that this iPhone 2G, but I still remember the first day I saw my sister’s new phone and marvelled at the smoothness and futuristic interactions that have now defined an entire era of computing.

‘I decided to dust off my old iPhone 2G and use it as my daily driver for a day.’
‘I decided to dust off my old iPhone 2G and use it as my daily driver for a day.’ Photograph: Francisco Herrera/GuardianWitness

Francisco Herrera, Hong Kong

My iPhone led to my marriage

I went out for a quick drink on 31 January 2008, a couple of weeks after buying the iPhone. A chap who was chatting to a friend of mine saw the iPhone on the table near me and used it as an excuse to chat to me.

“Is that an iPhone? What’s it like?”

“Great piece of technology but I can’t get a bespoke ringtone on it”.

“What would you have?” asked the chap.

“Soul Limbo, the Test Match Special theme tune.”

“You like cricket?” was his response.

So we chatted about cricket. And that led to an incredible evening when we talked and talked. Three months later the chap proposed and we were married the following spring, walking down the aisle to Soul Limbo.

Teresa Broughton, Bedford, UK

‘It’s a life-changing thing’

Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs holds the new iPhone in San Francisco.
Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs holds the new iPhone in San Francisco. Photograph: Kimberly White/Reuters

The idea of a full-fledged “computer in your pocket” was a life-changing thing as far as I was concerned. I watched the entire Steve Jobs keynote rapt. That original iPhone was limited, but once the second generation 3G and the App Store were announced, I immediately bought in and have never looked back.

Having (essentially) the entirety of the world’s knowledge in your pocket at all times is a life-changing experience. We now no longer need to depend upon our limited human memories for facts but can instead refer to primary sources any time we need them. Of course, 33% of everybody still seems to believe that the Earth is flat, climate change doesn’t exist, and Trump and May are the good guys, but one can’t expect miracles.

Atlant Schmidt, New Hampshire, USA


James Walsh and Guardian readers

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