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The New iPhone Is Huge. Remember When It Fit in Your Hand?

September 12, 2018 in History

By Dave Roos

Steve Jobs originally envisioned the iPhone as a small device that was mostly…a phone.

Steve Jobs unveiling the iPhone in 2007, which was less than half-inch thick, had Internet capability, an MP3 player and a two megapixel digital camera.

Apple released three new iPhones at its launch event on September 12, each one bigger than the last. With a 6.5-inch (diagonal) screen, the iPhone XS Max is the company’s largest smartphone ever. It features a screen size that’s nearly twice as big as the original 2007 model. One thing the rise of the super-sized iPhone shows is that even the inimitable . “It looked like an iPod, but it had a phone, and you would select numbers through the same interface and so on. But if you wanted to dial a number it was like using a rotary dial. It sucked.”

The iPod cell phone, made by Motorola, in 2005. The iTunes-enabled cell phone held up to 100 songs.

Jobs scrapped the design and started from scratch. At the time, there was a team of Apple engineers who had been playing with a device called the Fingerworks iGesture Pad invented by a man with hand injuries who couldn’t use a conventional mouse. Members of the team had worked on the Newton, Apple’s infamous flop of a PDA, but still believed touchscreens held promise.

“It was more of a ‘blue sky, future of computing’ kind of thing,” says Merchant. “The touchscreen research had gone through several iterations. It was briefly tied to a tablet, put aside, and had just kind of sat in the dark. Then Steve Jobs showed up and said, maybe this is the phone. Out of that mutation was how the iPhone was born inside Apple.”

With the touchscreen technology in place, Merchant says that many of the designers and engineers on the iPhone development team absolutely saw it as an opportunity to build an entirely new kind of mobile computer, exactly what the iPhone would become for its millions of loyal users.

“Steve Jobs didn’t,” says Merchant. “He thought it was cool, but the evidence suggests that Steve Jobs wanted to use Apple’s technology to build the best phone possible. And a phone fits in your hand.”

Subsequent generations of the iPhone stuck to the small design, incrementally increasing screen size, but nothing beyond 4 inches. Samsung was the first to release a truly huge phone in 2011. …read more


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