I don’t remember much about the original iPhone announcement, back in January 2007. I’m sure it was a momentous keynote and I was thoroughly impressed at the time, but as I said, I don’t remember much of it today.
I do however remember the first time I held an iPhone in my hands and experienced it in the flesh: I was visiting a mobile technology research group in Vienna and they had two new touchscreen devices on hand to try out: the original, first generation Apple iPhone and the LG Prada phone. Superficially the two devices were similar, just as today every modern smartphone is similar to every other modern smartphone: A huge, high quality capacitive touchscreen and no physical hardware keyboard (which were a common fixture on phones at the time).
On first glance the LG Prada phone almost seemed preferable to me, with its elegant, consistent and more restrained visual design language, but when I picked up both phones and started playing around with them, the superiority of the iPhone became immediately obvious: The way it reacted to touches, the immediacy and fluidity of interaction was staggering and unlike anything I had ever experienced in a phone before. At that moment it was obvious to me that Apple had created something in a league of its own, something entirely new, something that defied superficial comparison with other phones on the market. This was the future of smartphones.
I never bought the original iPhone because of limited distribution here in Austria and for its lack of 3G connectivity, but I picked up its successor, an iPhone 3G, as soon as it became available.