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What if the iPhone never existed?

Love it or hate it, Apple changed the humble mobile phone forever with its first iPhone. So what would the world be like if the iPhone never existed?

In Back To The Future 2, Marty McFly discovered that the future would be a really sucky place if bully Biff got his hands on a certain Almanac and became a rich, twisted mega-git. Crime on the streets, shotgun-toting headmasters, and his mom suddenly transformed into a hot 80’s vixen with plastic enhancements. Not cool.

We don’t think the world would be quite as grim if Steve Jobs hadn’t presented to us the very first iPhone back in 2007. But there’s no denying that with one device, Apple changed the mobile phone landscape forever – and if you don’t believe us, just check out the chart below.

Phones before the iPhone released                    Phones after the iPhone released

Phone design before and after the original Apple iPhone in 2007

Image by Josh Heifferich, via CultOfMac

Quite a difference, non? So join us as we hop in a Delorean and discover an alternative universe where the iPhone never existed.

Back in 2007…

Ahhh, 2007. The year that brought us torrential non-stop gales, foot-and-mouth disease, and – even more harrowing – Pirates of the Caribbean 3. Back then, mobile phones were chunky hunks of plastic, which generally flipped or popped or otherwise transformed just like kiddy toys. The hottest kit around boasted massive three-inch screens, 2-megapixel cameras, and MP3 playback.

Pretty much every mobile back then used physical buttons for every kind of input, with some phones including a full QWERTY keyboard for quickly smashing out texts. That’s not to say touchscreen mobile devices didn’t exist before iPhone, but Apple nailed it so perfectly that it instantly became clear that touch was the future. And mobile internet had already existed for ten years, with 3G speeds already possible, but phones still weren’t seen as devices for getting online until the iPhone made it sexy.

mobile phones before the iPhone existed in 2007

Back in 2007, this was the height of sexy mobile tech…

Life without iPhone: Android is a very different beast

Android was already heavily in development pre-iPhone, but it was a very different beast to what we know today. Official Google documents from 2006 reveal that ‘touchscreens will not be supported’, and Android was designed around discrete physical buttons – although Google also noted how touchscreens could well be supported in the future.

Turns out the future was just a year later. After the iPhone launched, Google’s view on touch was vastly different: ‘A touchscreen for finger-based navigation, including multi-touch capabilities, is required’. Looks like Google knew a good thing when it saw it.

So, no iPhone means Android would look and feel incredibly different, with an interface designed to make physical input quick and easy. And RIM, who by far made the most usable keyboards, would probably be the main competition with its BlackBerry handsets. With any luck, Symbian would’ve still died a death though.

Symbian OS. Blech.

Oh, Symbian. Even your name brings the bile up our throats.

Life without iPhone: No apps, crap internet?

Installing software on phones used to be a massive pain. You couldn’t just browse a massive virtual store and tap on what you liked. You had to boot up your PC, download what you needed, hook up your phone, and go through all manner of ballbaggery to get the damn things installed. It was only marginally less irritating than a Mrs Brown’s Boys twelve hour marathon (endured Clockwork Orange style, with no toilet breaks and a special mouthpiece to keep you from swallowing your own tongue).

Likewise, browsing the web wasn’t too much fun, as you had to negotiate a virtual cursor around the screen with your phone’s D-pad. Even checking out the latest footy scores was a test of patience and thumb-twiddling accuracy. So you can pretty much guarantee that no one would bother checking out porn on their phone.

Life without iPhone: Mobile gaming is dead

Without the iPhone, mobile gaming would still be shockingly bad. We’re talking five-minute time-wasters at best, or sitting on a rammed train playing Solitaire for the twenty-thousandth time.

Without the iPhone, gaming phones might still be a thing *shudder*

Not only did the iPhone introduce touchscreen multi-point controls, it also gave us an accelerometer for poke-free gaming. Other companies such as Nokia had attempted to create gaming handsets in the past and failed masterfully, and the iPhone’s rise meant that those awful devices are now a thing of the past. Without Apple’s baby, you’d basically have little choice but to bag a Nintendo 3DS or PS Vita if you wanted to do some serious gaming on the go.

Life without iPhone: And in 2014…

Steve Jobs announced back in 2007 that the iPhone was ‘literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone”, so going by that estimate, we’d only have seen a rise in touchscreen phones this past year or two. We’d finally be marvelling at how much easier things are, and how hilarious the very first farty noise app is.

Apple may not be viewed as an unshakeable giant any more, and we’ve already speculated on how the iPhone 6 may be make or break time. But there’s no denying that the iPhone changed the mobile world forever, and we’re a wee bit thankful for that.

Symbian image source

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