Retro Review: An Original iPhone Time Capsule!

It’s hard to believe it’s been 16 years since the introduction of the original iPhone. There are kids today using iPhones who weren’t even born when the first one was introduced!

I bought my Mom an original iPhone as a gift in late 2007 after their controversial price cut. She used the phone all the way until 2010 when she upgraded to an iPhone 4, but never reset the old one. In my latest video, we take a look at this digital time capsule running iPhone OS 3.1!

I purchased my own iPhone on its release date in 2007 mostly on a whim. I went up to my closest Apple store in the evening after work looking to get some hands-on time with a demo unit and assuming there would be none left in stock. To my surprise my local Apple store was mostly empty and they had plenty of iPhones to go around even at 8 p.m. that evening.

In the days that followed my purchase I became the most popular person in any setting. People (mostly strangers) would gather around wherever I went, curious to see this new piece of technology. Perhaps in some ways it was the start of my YouTube career as I was peppered with questions and demo requests. Eventually I figured out what most people wanted to see and developed my own formulaic demo procedure whenever I made a new friend.

The packaging from that time was signature Apple. Back then, they included a lot more with your phone. From a charger to headphones, and even a little dock to charge it on. I also managed to hang onto the original retail bag and my original receipt! You can see both in the video. But I did sell my iPhone when I upgraded to the 3 the following year.

One of the most surprising discoveries on my Mom’s phone was that many of the original iPhone’s features still work. Google Maps, for instance, still fetches map data. The App Store still pulls data from Apple, even though you can’t install any of the apps. I also plugged it into my Macbook Air M2 and found that it was fully supported on Mac OS 13.6, allowing for photo, music and video transfer along with backups.

But most other functions did not work correctly. The web browser struggled with modern websites, and many apps that were installed no longer functioned. The phone’s interface design philosophy, known as skeuomorphism, definitely looks dated today.

Today’s iPhones are certainly orders of magnitude better than this original, but none captured the public’s curiosity more than this original one. I can’t think of any other products in recent memory (beyond perhaps the original iPad) that captured the same level of consumer interest. Apple certainly hasn’t captured that with their new $3500 VR headset.