While LG may claim the Prada is the first touchscreen phone, the original Apple iPhone was announced earlier and is what changed the modern market - it had a superb UI that was intuitive and yet advanced, the phone was buttery smooth and pinch-to-zoom showed how gestures could play a part on a touchscreen device. Instead of having a WAP browser which was usually the norm at the time, Jobs wanted Apple's smartphone to have a real browser (although one could argue that with the lack of Flash, mobile Safari never did bring a perfect desktop functionality to the phone).
The OG Apple iPhone also offered Wi-Fi connectivity, a feature missing in many smartphones of the day. While the popular Palm Treo had a $99 Wi-Fi SD Card, it didn't work with many of the phone's features including the browser. Even as late as October 2008, the BlackBerry Storm 9530 was launched sans Wi-Fi. Today, you would be hard pressed to name a smartphone without it.
lack of 3G on the first-gen iPhone meant that browsing was sluggish outside of Wi-Fi supported areas, and You Tube videos were blurry and hard to view over EDGE. GPS was not a feature on that first model and MMS was not supported until iOS 3 was released. To this day, the iPhone lacks a microSD slot and a removable battery. While native third party apps were not a part of the first-gen device, Apple made sure that plenty built-in apps were included. According to one calculation, those apps would have cost a Windows Mobile user about $454.
Once it became clear that the Apple iPhone was a success, other manufacturers tried to copy it. Many so-called "iPhone killers" ended up on Verizon as AT&T had exclusivity on Apple's smartphone. The LG Voyager offered up an internal and external resistive touchscreen in a clamshell form factor, and was the first featurephone with an HTML browser. While never a real threat to the iPhone, it did have 3G, stereo Bluetooth, live television and a luscious QWERTY keyboard-all things that Apple's device could not match. Other phones came and went like the LG Dare and the Samsung Instinct for Sprint, but none could match the total experience of the Apple iPhone.
Five years later and the Apple iPhone remains the one single device in the smartphone world that most look at as the gold standard. While Android has proven to be more than just a mere challenger, there is no denying the excitement that builds in the community with every new iPhone launch. Since that first model, users can now install apps from the AppStore, ask questions to Siri and get an answer back along with many other added features that no one could have foreseen 5 years ago today.
On that day 5 years ago, when Steve Jobs held the Apple iPhone, no one could have guessed what would happen to the handset and the smartphone business in general over the next half decade. Now, as 2012 begins and the Apple iPhone is on the cusp of perhaps its biggest redesign yet, what will the handset be like after the next five years?