My Smart Phones through the Ages

I recently upgraded my iPhone 4 to the latest iPhone, the 5. When Claudia and I upgraded to iPhone 4’s we passed our 3G’s to our two oldest kids to use as iPods. We just recently did a similar thing when we upgraded to iPhone 5’s. We passed our iPhone 4’s to our two youngest and bought our oldest a 4S with actual voice, text and data. Rather than keeping our 3G’s around collecting dust, I decided to sell them to along with a couple of first generation iPod touches.  I figured I should cash them in while they are still worth some cash. Before I dropped my iPhone 3G’s in a mailer box never to be seen again, I thought I’d snap a couple of pics, including one of all of my smartphones since I started using them eight years ago.  I used a smart phone before everyone used a smart phone. My first was an HP iPac circa 2004.  It is interesting to observe how far smart phones have come in just eight years.

I am not making any definitive statements about smart phones. I am not suggesting that any of these devices are representative of its particular vintage, or that these observable trends are absolutely representative of the industry.  While these trends may not be absolutely accurate of the industry, I suspect that they are generally true of it.  It is interesting to observe the trending associated with this arbitrary sampling–what has happened to the smart phones I have used over time. So, with that disclaimer, what can I say?

Smart phones have become much faster.  My current smart phone’s CPU is essentially 20 times faster than my first.  The connectivity speeds have increase as well.  With respect to WiFi, my first smart phone was only capable of 802.11b or 11 Mbps.  In the middle they became 802.11g capable or 54 Mbps.  And now they are 802.11n or up to 600 Mbps capable.  That is equivalent to 50x increase.  With respect to wireless or cellular data, they have gone from 2g or 1 Mbps maximum to 4g or LTE with data rates as high as 300 Mbps peak.  That is equivalent to a 300x increase!

It is not surprising that storage capacities have grown as we seek to carry more and more data in our pockets.  While you can get the latest devices with higher memory configurations that in the past, I have found that 16 GB is about the right amount of storage for my needs.  However, with a higher resolution photo and video camera in the iPhone 5 I’ll have to see if I can still easily live with 16 GB.  Predictably, random access memory has also increased as these phones have more processing to do with increasingly demanding applications.  The interesting trend you can observe here with these phones is that the memory has doubled with nearly each new phone I purchased for total 5-fold or 16x increase.

They have become smaller.  My current smart phone is now about half the weight and a third of the thickness of my first smart phone.

Make & Model HP iPac h6325 iMate JAMin Apple iPhone 3G Apple iPhone 4 Apple iPhone 5
Year 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012
Operating System Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 PocketPC Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 PocketPC iOS 2.x – 4.2.1 iOS 4.x-iOS 6.0 iOS 6.0
Dimensions 137.6 x 74.6 x 20.8 mm 108 x 58 x 18.2 mm 115.5 x 62.1 x 12.3 mm 115.2 x 58.66 x 9.3 mm 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm
Weight 190 g 150 g 133 g 137 g 112 g
Display size: 3.5 inches diagonal, 53 x 71 mm, 3763 mm2
resolution: 240 x 320 px
pixels: 76,800
size: 2.8 inches diagonal, 42 x 57 mm, 2394 mm2
resolution: 240 x 320 px
pixels: 76,800
size: size: 3.5 inches diagonal, 53 x 71 mm, 3763 mm2
resolution: 480 — 320 px
pixels: 153,600
size: 3.5 inches diagonal, 53 x 71 mm, 3763 mm2
resolution: 960 — 640 px
pixels: 614,400
size: 4 inches diagonal, 52.3 x 90.6 mm, 4738 mm2
resolution: 1,136 — 640 px
pixels: 727,040
CPU 168 MHz ARM925T 200 MHz ARM926EJ-S 833 MHz (underclocked to 600 MHz) ARM Cortex-A8 1 GHz (underclocked to 800 MHz) Apple A4 1600 MHz Apple A6 Dual Core
Memory 64 MB 64 MB 256 MB 512 MB 1 GB
Storage 64 MB ROM, SD card up to 1 GB 128 MB ROM, SD card up to 2 GB 8 or 16 GB 8, 16, 32 GB 16, 32, 64 GB
Cellular Data 2G 2G 3G 3G LTE
WiFi 802.11b 802.11b/g 802.11b/g 802.11 b/g/n 802.11 b/g/n
Cameras Rear: 640×480 pixels (0.3 MP) Rear: 2 MP, 1600×1200 pixels Rear: 3.0 MP,VGA video at 30 frame/s Rear: 5.0 MP,720p HD video at 30 frame/s
Front: 0.3 MP, 480p VGA video at 30 frame/s
Rear: 8.0 MP,1080p Full HD video at 30 frame/s
Front: 1.2 MP, 720p HD video at 30 frame/s
Here is a stack of devices I sent to
Boxing my devices to ship to
All of my smart phones from 2004 to the present.
All of my smart phones from 2004 to the present. Elevation shot.

Observe the geometric progression of smart phone specs over time.

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