Smartphones have come an incredibly long way since their introduction in 1992. Not all features, however, have improved at the same pace.
The prototype device named Angler IBM debuted 25 years ago would hardly be considered a smartphone by today’s standards.
At the time, however, a combination of mobile phone and PDA functionality along with a set of apps like maps and stocks granted it the honour of being considered the world’s first smartphone when it launched commercially as the Simon.
In a market where well over 90 percent of mobile handset sales come from smartphones, it’s easy to take them for granted, according to GlobalData figures.
A look back to that original device, however, shows how much smartphones have improved in terms of features when compared with a flagship smartphone like Samsung’s Galaxy S8 launched earlier this year.
A three-fold lighter and nearly five-fold thinner device has made today’s smartphone a device that can be taken everywhere.
A 400 percent improvement in pixel density (number of pixels per square inch of screen space) yields a device tailor made for media consumption.
And while you might scoff at the value of colour options, a choice of six body colours versus the single Simon model that was introduced helps to make today’s smartphone an expression of personal taste as much as a communications device.
And if you were to move beyond these basic physical characteristics, the changes are even greater.
The 4GB of memory on the S8 bests the by a factor of 4,000. The S8’s 32MB of storage beats the Simon by a factor of 32,000.
And the Gigabit download speeds supported by the S8? Compared to the analog-modem speeds of the Simon, they’re a 500,000-fold improvement!
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But if you think everything on the smartphone front just kept getting better, think again. While the $1,099 price tag on the Simon represents a 50 percent premium over the Galaxy S8, that’s a relatively minor improvement compared with everything else (putting aside inflation).
And with Apple’s iPhone X running up to $1,149, that premium totally disappears.
And this is how we know the smartphone has become a truly mainstream consumer good.
Like cars and PCs, where nominal pricing remains somewhat constant but features improve over time, smartphones continually get better – and people are continually willing to pay for them.