This year is the iPhone’s 5th anniversary. Since its launch in 2007, the iPhone has taken on a few different forms but all with the same simplistic face. The rectangle with rounded corners and a single home button make it the most recognizable phone on the market. To see just how far we’ve come in terms of design, I’ve put the iPhone 5 side-by-side with the original “Jesus phone” to spot similarities and differences.
It goes without saying that the front panel looks virtually identical to the patented design from 5 years back. I doubt Apple’s going to change it any time soon. The software is designed to make full use of that single home button, and a change in software would almost certainly mean a change in hardware resulting in fragmentation.
Apple pays homage to the original iPhone by re-adopting the aluminum two-tone design. Although the materials and exact working out of the bi-color application is different, the reasons for it are the same. It all has to do with radio signals getting through. Metal blocks them, so a “window” is needed. In the 2G it was plastic/polycarbonate. The 5 uses two glass “gaps”. One on the top, and one on the bottom.
One thing that I am glad about returning: individually machined holes for the speaker and mic. The mesh covering on the iPhone 4/4s’ underside coupled with the huge 30-pin connector made it ugly. The iPhone 5 doesn’t have an ugly angle. It’s gone back to the design that looks much more purposeful/deliberate, not just a “cover up that hole with something” approach.
The most apparent difference is the size. The original iPhone (as you’d expect) is much thicker and wider than the newest handset. iPhone 5 is incredibly slim, and is perfectly flat top and bottom, with minimal chamfers on the edges to avoid right-angled discomfort. Gone is the decorative chrome trim that featured on the first three generation iPhones, replaced by a more subtle dark anodized aluminum frame and back panel (on the black version). That said, the iPhone 2G is very comfortable to hold thanks to its rounded, ergonomic shape.
The more subtle difference include the volume controls and front facing camera. Thanks to the addition of FaceTime to Apple’s service-arsenal, the new iDevices all have front facing snappers. The new one just happens to be HD too. Control-wise, the volume rocker has been replaced with two individual “+” and “-” buttons (the same featured on the 4S/4). Much more solid, and better response from presses. The mute switch has changed to a more solid metal design too, as has the lock button.
The headset jack has moved to the bottom for the first time, taking inspiration from the iPod touch, and the camera has gained a LED flash for night-time/low light shooting of drunken teenagers at parties. (Seriously – I aways have it switched off.) Perhaps a less noticeable difference to many is the change in headset jack design. The original phone wasn’t designed to be used with third party accessories unless they were tailor made. The recessed jack meant that a lot of pre-existing headsets couldn’t fit in. Thankfully, the current design has the jack input right on the surface.
Obviously, over time capabilities and performance have evolved with time. And, although the basic interface of iOS is largely unchanged, what you can do with it now compared to the original iPhone OS 1.0 has improved exponentially. You couldn’t even download third party apps on the first-gen model!
Which design features do you prefer from the first iPhone? Which elements of the iPhone 5 impress you? Leave your opinion in the comments or tweet: @TiP_Cam