As iOS 7 takes shape, Apple prepares to relegate original iPhone to "obsolete" status, which will mean the end of service by AppleCare and retail stores.
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Even at its 2007 launch, the original Apple iPhone was not a cutting-edge product. Sure, it ushered in a new era of smartphone design and touch-based user interfaces, but the hardware offered mediocre specs in several key areas.
At the time, wireless network operators around the world were about midway through deploying their 3G networks. In the U.S., AT&T was just getting its HSUPA network, which offered speeds up to 1.8 Mbps, in place. (Verizon's EVDO 3G network was much further along, but the iPhone didn't support Verizon's networking technology until 2011.) Apple decided to skip adding 3G to the original iPhone. Instead, it shipped with only EDGE 2G service on board. That made it compatible with 2G networks the world over, but even in 2007 3G was no longer cutting edge. When asked why no 3G, Apple said 3G would have sacrificed battery life.
Then there was the camera. The first iPhone's camera rated just 2 megapixels and didn't include a flash, nor any software to control the camera other than a giant shutter button. The Nokia N95 beat the iPhone to market by about three months in 2007. It included an incredible 5-megapixel camera with flash and a wide array of software controls.
The original iPhone was discontinued in July 2008 when the iPhone 3G was announced.
Those who are still using that original iPhone should mark June 11 in their calendars, because that's the date Apple will add it to its list of vintage/obsolete products. According to an internal document snagged by 9to5Mac, the original iPhone will be classified as vintage in the U.S., but obsolete everywhere else. Vintage products may only be serviced in the state of California, and only if originally purchased there. Obsolete products are not serviced by Apple's retail stores or AppleCare at all.
Considering how far the iPhone and smartphones in general have come since 2007, it's hard to see why anyone would still be using the original iPhone for any reason other than to fulfill some sentimental needs. The iPhone 5 has a larger, brighter, high-resolution display; much faster processor and eight times the RAM; support for 3G and 4G LTE networks; and of course an 8-megapixel camera with flash that shoots HD video. The original iPhone cost $599. The iPhone 5 can be purchased for $199 with a contract.
Last October, Apple shuffled a number of its executives. One of the more notable changes put Jony Ive, the company's hardware design guru, in charge of iOS as well. The latest scuttlebutt comes from a separate report in 9to5Mac and suggests that iOS 7 will see a significant visual overhaul. 9to5Mac's sources said the operating system looks "very, very flat" and loses the shine, gloss and skeuomorphism that has long given iOS its three-dimensional personality. They likened the new design to Microsoft's Windows Phone.
Despite the deep changes to the look of the operating system, the alterations aren't expected to impact usability of the platform -- something Apple has long strived to maintain.
Apple will likely provide a preview of iOS 7 at its Worldwide Developer Conference, which is scheduled to take place in June.
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