It was 15 years ago today that Steve Jobs (RIP 😭🙏🪦) held the keynote for the first ever iPhone. I was pregnant, jobless, in an abusive relationship, recently just had to sell a whole bunch of my own personal tech to help make ends meet.
At the time, like many other people, I thought the original iPhone wasn’t going to pan out.
My deadbeat, jobless, controlling ex was trying to squander the last $1200 or so out of my savings to try to purchase to Windows Mobile smartphones, but my bank was refusing the purchase. Android wasn’t a thing yet; I never owned a Blackberry or Palm at this point. I had my T-Mobile Sidekick, which was the one thing of mine I wouldn’t let my ex sell or pawn. It played music; I could email, browse the web, instant message, call, and text. The keyboard and other function keys allowed me to do whatever I wanted or needed to. It was all I needed in a phone. It was a step up from other qwerty phones, and showed a better version of the Web compared to their WAP browsers.
Unlike the original iPhone, my Sidekick could load apps. The camera was subjectively better. I could back up everything to the cloud, years before iCloud was a thing. I had messaging clients built right in. I could use an SD card to expand storage. I could swap out my battery for a fresh one, rather than remain tethered while recharging. I could use any headset I wanted without resorting to a dongle.
It was also affordable.
I was also very anti-Apple at the time, so yea.
I was not a fan of the skeuomorphic design of the icons and apps. I was not a fan of having to keep everything organized through iTunes. At the time I preferred physical to software buttons, especially when it came to typing. Brew apps were just as fun or as capable as iPhone apps. The Sidekick cloud servers revamped websites for me to view more easily on its small browser, compared to the constant need to zoom in on iPhone’s Safari browser (though this was rendered mute with the rise of CSS styles that reformatted websites to the size of the screen someone was using). Until the iPhone would include the App Store a year later, I was happy I could download and even potentially sideload apps onto my Sidekick.
I tried Symbian on the C9 (the Astound stateside) before T-Mobile told me my phone wasn’t getting Symbian Belle; I would get my first taste of using a smartphone as a hotspot, trying to look for alternative routes down to Florida to visit family. My favorite musicians at the time, Basshunter and Ricky Martin, would use Nokia’s Xpress Music line of phones in their music videos.
I tried a Blackberry once, as my then-girlfriend used it and wanted us to communicate via BBMessenger. I got rid of it right after I would dump her, because Blackberry otherwise by this point was just dying.
I would try early iterations of Android before hopping over to Windows Mobile for a few years, pissed off I wasn’t able to jump on early game and app crazes that my friends were always on. I would try a discounted Samsung S3 when it finally came to prepaid services—only to brick the damn thing when I tried to root it to remove bloatware and install a custom ROM onto it. (And that it would not be the last time that would happen.)
After several years of unemployment, when I would get hired by Starbucks in 2014, I bought the iPhone 5S. The home button didn’t have that stupid square icon it. iOS 7 and 8 brought the flat design concept I much preferred. It was discounted as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus came out, but I preferred the smaller phone as I could use it with one hand, it was cheaper, and easily more pocketable. It could play my large iTunes collection. But I also needed it as it was an unwritten rule for employees to preferably have one, because of one thing—iMessage, so group chats could remain as blue bubbles for work and social chats. I used Macs in college when I was 18, and would even get a Macbook for better cohesiveness with my iPhone when I tried attending more classes.
I would try to return to Android. I never realized that to get early Nexus phones, I had to purchase them through Google’s store site. I somewhat loved the OnePlus 6S, but after returning to Starbucks had to ditch it for the iPhone SE, the only phone I could afford at the time. I would try to use Samsung Dex, which didn’t fan out. I would try Google’s Pixel 5, and while it the first Pixel to give me a decent stock Android experience, the lack of app updates compared to what iOS apps offered sealed that distaste I have for the Android experience.
I am not the tech enthusiast I was over a decade ago. I don’t root my devices to remove bloatware or even potentially add custom ROMs. I don’t need to download skins and customize every aspect of my phone to personalize it. I don’t need a thousand widgets to keep me in the know about alerts, notifications, messages, or to quickly do things. I don’t need all these buzzword camera features Android OEMs keep adding every couple of months. I just want devices that work, that work well, that work well together.
I still sell or trade in my iPhone and iPad every year not because I need to, but because I want to, even if upgrades are nowhere the groundbreakers they were a decade ago. Not to try Apple’s latest additions, not to “flex” (ie show off), not for really any reason other because I can and I want to. I still have chargers and cables that are years old and could be recycled and upgraded to get those better charging speeds. EarPods that came with my … I forget which model, that’s how long I’ve had them; they stay in my gym bad if my AirPods die on me when working out.
So why do I stay with Apple? If I couldn’t afford upgrading as often as I did, my devices would still be supported for 6+ years with day one updates. Battery replacements are easy to get at Apple stores or other authorized stores. The customer service is better than anything I have to deal with when troubleshooting my family’s Wintel computers. The cohesiveness that is the Apple ecosystem. The sheer number of accessories online and in retail stores that are available, from cases and cords to MagSafe-compatible chargers. Others would bring up privacy, but the fact is I can brag how (outside watching Youtube ad-free, for free) I live a life devoid of using any Google products or services always shocks people, to my enjoyment. Because I use Apple’s Music, Fitness, iCloud, and iWorks services for everything, and transferring from iCloud to Google Drive or OneCloud would not just be a hassle to move, but that a lot of documents I’ve created and saved with Pages (Apple’s document program) that I would have to resave into another format for those services to render and display. So many apps, movies, and services I’ve paid for that I’d have to forgo or repurchase on the Play Store just to use again—and I refuse to use a lot of third-party services, because the experience just doesn’t compare to those Apple provides.
In the past 15 years since the initial debut of the original iPhone, I have come full circle, from Apple hater, to self-proclaimed Apple fanboy. I am not saying Windows and Android totally suck, but my usage with them have always sucked compared to whenever I used Apple’s products. They just work. And that is all I want from my devices.