The iPhone has no doubt been a crazy success since the early days. But how did the iPhone end up being such a success? Speculation, rumors and the lack of a design-first company in the market left Apple wide-open to squeeze into a already crowding market of cell phones and catalyze the smartphone industry into the behemoth that it is today. It took years of research, iteration and trial and error to produce the first iPhones. Apple was prototyping devices in secrecy with fabricators in China as early as 2005 with Foxconn and Pegatron. Looking back, we can see the design lineage and early ideas that were afoot in the company.
Early on, there was a bet that the clickwheel, an invention of the successful iPod could be re-used in the iPhone. Thanks to @DongleBookPro, and (a few others over the years), we have some interesting images of late Acorns OS. Apple installed numerous diagnostic tools on these devices such as fabricator diagnostics, carrier and engineering diagnostic UI. Hap Plain of Cult of Mac put together this video showing just how rudimentary some of these early P-series iPhones worked here:
The hinge is also a bit stiff so you won’t be able to just whip it open with a flick of a wrist — closing it with one hand also involves some more finger contortions to start the closing action. It’s just more practical to close it with your other hand.
Even with these caveats, the whole opening and closing mechanism is supremely satisfying to do, with crisp snaps in both directions. Snapping the phone shut to hang up on a call is a particular delight; there really is no better way to end a call than the classic flip phone snap, and it’s excellent to see that Motorola has kept it alive here. The hardware feels great, too, with solid-feeling stainless steel and glass on the outside and a wonderfully textured back that’s nice and grippy, which is essential for not dropping it while flipping it open and shut. (It is a fingerprint magnet, though.)
A freaking… hinge! Did you hear that?!
Pretty wild right? What year is this? Check out The Verge’s review video below. At the 1:20 mark, Chaim makes a fantastic point. All the other foldables seem to have run into the same problem. They all have terrible hinge designs, among other unmemorable product design issues. For other unknown reasons, most of the other devices fold hamburger style instead of hotdog. Perplexing really. Remember the Samsung Galaxy Fold? It was atrocious, and If you recall, it failed spectacularly.
Sure, the new RAZR isn’t exactly the most beautiful smart device either. It does after all run on Android and will likely employ Google RCS. Nonetheless, it does raise some eyebrows. It brings Motorola back into the fray, and it brings the flip back to smart phones in such a memorable way. One major upside for this design? No more glass screens, which means no more cracked screens for those that fumble (myself included). I think that’s a bright future we can all hope for.
Overall, I’m not sure if I would love it owning a RAZR (I never owned the original RAZR in the first place, but I did own a Sidekick 3 once upon a time), but it has certainly piqued my interest. I think it’s entirely possible that this foldable mobile-device paradigm just might make a comeback. What do ya’ll think?
General Magic was probably the single-most important project of the 20th century. Originally spun out of an internal Apple project. The at-the-time CEO, John Sculley later joined the board of General Magic and despite Apple’s minority stake in General Magic, attempted to cannibalize their research and neuter their products:
Even though the company folded shortly after the dot-com bust in 2004, the spoils of their research and development gave us Palm’s Pilot, RIM’s BlackBerry, Apple’s iPhone, and countless other products that we now collectively call: the smartphones. Veterans of General Magic are, to say the least, numerous:
Shot entirely on the Nokia N8 mobile phone. Winner of the Nokia Shorts competition 2011.
For context the N8 was released 9 years ago. It had a 12.1 megapixel resolution which was unheard of at the time. But also, not great when we’ve been spoiled 4K+ resolutions as of lately. It also had a 16GB SSD, and a SD memory card slot.
It’s extraordinary and really wonderful what we can achieve around such simple medium constraints.