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10 iconic iPhone features we've lost
3:18 am | December 26, 2018

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones | Comments: None

The iPhone. It’s an iconic device which is often credited with the birth of the modern, touchscreen smartphone back in 2007. Apple’s wildly popular mobile has seen many incarnations over the years, with features coming and going – but can you remember all the features the iPhone used to have?

In a world where the likes of the iPhone X, iPhone XS and iPhone XR have redefined what people think of when the word ‘iPhone’ is mentioned, it’s easy to forget what the iPhone, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 5 and co offered.

We’ve taken a trip down memory lane, and racked our brains to recall the once-defining iPhone features that are no more. Sure, we got a little sentimental writing this, and a few tears were shed, but this is also a celebration of just how far we’ve come…

Skeuomorphism

Skeuomorphism in iPhone OS 3 (L) and iOS 4 (R)

First appeared: 2007, iPhone OS 1
Last appeared: 2012, iOS 6

Sir Jony Ive’s skeuomorphism iOS interface defined the early years of iPhone, with literal icons for pretty much everything providing a unique – and at times, a little confusing – aesthetic.

It quickly become a firm favorite with many Apple fans, and when Apple drastically overhauled the look and feel of its interface with iOS 7 in 2013 there was uproar from media and fans alike.

However, as with most changes in the tech world, skeuomorphism was forgotten after a year or so, and the new-look iOS was embraced as the iPhone norm.

30-pin connector

The 30-pin port on the iPhone 4S

First appeared: 2007, original iPhone
Last appeared: 2011, iPhone 4S

While the original iPhone boasted this connection, it wasn’t new for the first Apple phone. Brought over from the firm’s iPod range, the 30-pin connector will live long in the memory for anyone who purchased any form of iPhone or iPod dock/speaker/stereo in the early 2000s.

The port allowed easy docking for your iPhone (or iPod), allowing it to stand up with a strong base. However, it was also a wide port, and took up a lot of valuable space in the confined form factor of a smartphone.

So it was no surprise when Apple introduced us to Lightning, its answer to microUSB, offering the ability for the user to insert a cable either way round – a feature USB-C mimicked a few years later.

However, while Lightning had many advantages over the 30-pin port, its thinner form factor meant it was more delicate, which in turn lead to the death of the dockable speakers and other accessories.

Plastic bodies

The iPhone 5C was Apple’s last plastic-bodied iPhone

First appeared: 2007, original iPhone
Last appeared: 2013, iPhone 5C

Plastic is cheap, lightweight and highly moldable, making it a fantastic material for smartphones, and, hard though it may be to believe in today’s all-glass world, iPhones once used it extensively.

The rear of the original iPhone was around one-fifth plastic, while both the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS fully embraced plastic bodies. 

Plastic (or polycarbonate, to be more exact) reappeared with the iPhone 5C in 2013 – but that was the final time it was used, with Apple choosing not to reboot the ‘C’ variant of its phones.

Game Center app

The old and new Gamer Center app icons

First appeared: 2010, iOS 4.1
Last appeared: 2015, iOS 9

The launch of iOS 4 brought a host of new features to Apple’s mobile operating system, and one of those was Game Center (which actually landed with the 4.1 update).

It made gaming on your iPhone more competitive, allowing you to go head-to-head with friends to see who could unlock the most achievements.

The Game Center app was removed for the operating system with the iOS 10 update; however, the functionality lives on. If you head into Settings on your iPhone and scroll down you’ll notice Game Center is still an option.

Aluminum bodies

The iPhone 6 was just one of many iPhones with an aluminum body

First appeared: 2007, original iPhone
Last appeared: 2016, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

The very first iPhone featured a mostly aluminum rear, but it wasn’t until the iPhone 5 in 2012 that Apple properly adopted the metal as its material of choice for iPhones.

It was tough and, more importantly, premium in look and feel, helping to give iPhones the signature style that made them among the most desirable consumer products. However, the mobile market shifted, and glass became the new in-thing.

Apple didn’t embrace the all-glass finish to start with, but it finally came around in 2017 with the introduction of the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X.

Headphone jack

The iPhone 6S was the last iPhone to come with a 3.5mm headphone jack

First appeared: 2007, original iPhone
Last appeared: 2016, iPhone 6S and 6S Plus

Potentially the most contentious feature removal by Apple (although the switch from 30-pin to Lightning ruffled a lot of feathers at the time) is the removal of the headphone jack from the iPhone range.

It was rumored for months in the build-up to the launch of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, and a handful of Android phones had already taken the step without causing much of a stir.

However, when Apple dropped the jack in 2017 the world sat up and took notice, and while for some the decision is still a cardinal sin even today, Apple and most of the Android market have now reached a consensus that it’s time to move away from the trusty 3.5mm connection.

Physical home button

The physical home button was an iPhone staple for years

First appeared: 2007, original iPhone
Last appeared: 2015, iPhone 6S

A staple of the iPhone from day one, the iconic circular home button gave Apple’s handsets an instantly recognizable look.

However, having a sizable, physical key on a phone took up vital internal space, and in 2016 Apple introduced a new type of home button. 

The capacitive button acted like the physical button, using haptic feedback (vibrations) to give the effect that it was physically being depressed, even though there were no moving parts. 

However, little did we know at the time that the writing was already on the wall for the new button…

Capacitive home button

A brief one-year, two-generation existance

First appeared: 2016, iPhone 7
Last appeared: 2017, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

The observant among you will have noticed that the home button in any form is now old news for iPhone. 

The touch-sensitive key made its final appearance on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus in 2017, just a year after its introduction, with Apple shifting to a gesture-based navigation system.

With the shift to all-screen displays it’s unlikely the home button will ever make a comeback, but its 10-year reign as one of the iPhone’s most recognizable features won’t be forgotten.

Touch ID

Touch ID set the bar for fingerprint scanners on smartphones

First appeared: 2013, iPhone 5S
Last appeared: 2017, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

Touch ID brought accurate, fast and easy-to-use fingerprint scanning to the smartphone masses. It was a simple implementation, and one that caught on quickly as the appeal of secure biometrics to promote every candid message, selfie and email resonated with the market.

Again, Apple wasn’t the first to implement a fingerprint scanner on a smartphone, but it was arguably the first to really get the feature right.

Fingerprint scanners are old news now though, with the introduction of Face ID on the iPhone X in 2017 marking the end of the line for Touch ID, and all three iPhones launched in 2018 coming with the facial recognition tech instead.

Chunky bezels

Apple’s big bezels took a long time to disappear

First appeared: 2007, original iPhone
Last appeared: 2017, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

Almost as iconic as the home button once upon a time were the chunky bezels above and below the displays on iPhones. 

The uniform look ensured that Apple’s handsets stood out, although many lookalike devices were crafted by rivals over the years.

However, as screen sizes on Android phones continued to grow, Apple finally ditched the bezels in 2017 with the introduction of the iPhone X, while also giving us the final phones to rock the look – the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.

It’s inevitable that, as Apple and the mobile industry as a whole advance, more features will be dropped from our smartphones in the name of innovation, so here are the features we think will be next for Apple’s chopping block…

SIM tray

This tray could be a thing of the past very soon

First appeared: 2007, original iPhone

The iPhone XS, iPhone XS Plus and iPhone XR brought with them a new feature for iPhones: an integrated eSIM alongside a traditional nanoSIM tray, providing iPhone users with dual-SIM capabilities for the first time.

An eSIM works like a traditional SIM card, but instead of being physically inserted into the phone it’s built-in, and can be wiped and assigned to a different carrier if the user wants to switch.

While we’re likely still a few years away from the physical SIM card disappearing altogether, the introduction of the eSIM into the latest iPhones could spell the beginning of the end for it.

LCD screens

The iPhone XR has a LCD display

First appeared: 2007, original iPhone

With its latest batch of iPhones Apple has all but moved away from LCD screen technology in favor of OLED panels, with only the iPhone XR holding out… for now.

OLED displays offer better color reproduction, lower power consumption and less bulk than their LCD counterparts, making them ideal for smartphones.

We fully expect the iPhone XR to be the last iPhone to pack a LCD panel, with all of 2019’s new iPhones using OLED displays.

Lightning port

The Lightning port’s time may be coming to an end

First appeared: 2012, iPhone 5

There are already rumors that the iPhone 11 will drop the Lightning port in favor of a USB-C connection. Apple has already adopted the connection type for its MacBook line, and the latest iPad Pro duo have also seen their Lightning connector switched out for a USB-C port.

The shift away from the Apple-only standard will be welcome news for those with other devices already using USB-C, and will see the iPhone fall in line with Android handsets when it comes to connection types.

We may have already witnessed the Lightning Port’s final outing on the iPhone XS, XS Plus and XR, with 2019 potentially being the year Apple does away with the connection type altogether.

The notch

The iPhone X was the first Apple handset with a notch

First appeared: 2017, iPhone X

The screen notch is still a relatively new feature on smartphones, but its days may already be numbered. 

We’ve already seen some Android manufacturers experiment with full-screen, no-notch, bezel-less displays (see the Vivo Nex and Oppo Find X), and in the coming years we expect Apple to follow suit.

There are still a number of technological hurdles to overcome in order to fully realize the no-notch, all-screen dream – such as where the ear piece, Face ID tech and various sensors move to – but keep an eye on this one. The notch may be gone before you know it.

Mute switch

The mute switch has been around since the very first iPhone

First appeared: 2007, original iPhone

A physical staple of iPhone designs through the years has been the easily-accessible mute switch on the side of handsets, enabling you to quickly flick between silent and loud profiles. Its days could well be numbered though.

Apple has already culled the home button and dropped the headphone jack, with their removal contributing to a cleaner overall design, and the mute switch now stands out more than ever. 

Apple has already dropped the switch from its newer iPads, which could well be a sign of things to come on the iPhone.

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