How a decade of the iPhone has changed the world


November 21, 2017 • Tech

Apple’s ground-breaking iPhones have been part of our lives for ten years. With the recent release of the incredible iPhone X and its 5.8-inch Super Retina, Face ID, and dual 12MP cameras; we started to wonder how the iPhone has transformed the world of socialising, communication and technology…


The birth of the front-facing camera has changed how we take photos — and who gets in them — forever. Love them or hate them, the selfie is here to stay. Front-facing cameras appeared on the mobile market as early as 2003, with the iPhone 4 being the first of Apple’s smartphones to introduce them. Many believed that these cameras would be used primarily for video calls, but it wasn’t long before people started to snap self-portraits and the selfie trend quickly took hold.

The selfie is a worldwide enterprise that multiple professional sectors have benefitted massively from. For example, the cosmetics industry (which was the top-performing category in UK health and beauty, with sales up £100m from 2015-2017) is suggested to owe its growth to the rise of YouTube tutorials and the desire to share selfies on social media apps.

“The impact of the so-called ‘selfie generation’ — where people are spending disproportionately long periods of time studying their faces and making sure they are camera-ready — is not just driving sales for certain cosmetics, but also boosting demand for ancillary products, like eyebrow kits, sponges, pencils, and brushes,” said Chloe Humphreys-Page, a director at data analytics company IRI.


One of the greatest benefits of the iPhone is the introduction and advancement of apps. The App Store was introduced on the iPhone 3G in 2008, and allowed users to boost their devices by downloading up to 500 additional apps on top of what was already installed on the device.

Nearly a decade later, we have spent billions downloading social media apps, photo editing software, games, health and fitness hubs, and TV and movie streaming services. So, it comes as no surprise to learn that the App Store is home to more than two million apps.


For many years, there’s been a stand-off between desktop and mobile web use. Once, everyone’s primary source of going online was via a laptop or computer, but thanks to the advent and rise of gadgets including the iPhone, this trend has transformed. Research company, Statcounter, tracked people’s use of the internet across 2.5 million websites in October 2016 and found that more sites are now loaded on smartphones and tablets than on desktop computers!

More than half of all pages were loaded on mobile devices, which signals a huge increase from the less than 5% that were loaded as recently as 2010. This research was also published soon after Google announced that searches on mobile had overtaken those carried out on desktop — another indicator of the power of mobile.

Could this have a lot to do with the popularity of the iPhone? It’s possible, especially when you consider why the iPhone was launched. Making the internet accessible on the go was a major iPhone objective, with Steve Jobs saying as much when he first unveiled the original iPhone and described it as a “breakthrough Internet communications device”.

Single, multi-use devices

The iPhone has grown massively in functionality and use, which can both explain it dominance in the market. At one time, if we wanted to capture great photos to keep memories of our experiences, we’d need to take a camera with us. An iPod, mp3 player or — if we are really going back in time — a Walkman was needed if we wanted some music to keep us entertained. Not sure of how to get to a destination? Then we had to make sure we didn’t leave home without our trusty sat-nav or fold-up map.

However, times have changed — thanks to the iPhone. Market research firm KeyPoint Intelligence found that 85% of digital photos are now taken on a phone — compared to 50% in 2011 — while GPS can be used on our devices. When it comes to music, our favourite songs can either be downloaded to our devices or streamed through apps like Spotify and Apple Music. Essentially, the iPhone is adept as packing everything we need and want into one, hand-held gadget.

Ease of contacting

Of course, a phone, even an iPhone, is primarily for communication. So how has this changed over the past decade?

The rise of the iPhone has brought with it a change in who we can socialise with and how much it costs. Using WhatsApp, for instance, removes the charges that used to surround getting in touch with someone from another country. Video calling is easily accessible to all through FaceTime too, while the iPhone’s threaded message interface allows us to see all messages on a single screen instead of having to come out of a text and open others just to keep track of a conversation.


Although getting lost is still possible, the rise of location technology available on iPhone has helped us find where we are and get to where we’re going far easier. By 2016, there was reportedly more than five billion searches or requests on Apple Maps each week. Every user gets access to features such as proactive suggestions (which sees the system predicting the places where people are most likely to go), up-to-date public transport information, and detailed Indoor Maps of a wide variety of airport terminals and shopping centres covering locations across the globe.

But the use of Google Maps doesn’t end there. In 2016, it was revealed that users would have the opportunity to become ‘editors’ themselves on Google Maps. Basically, they’ll be able to suggest new locations or edit place names to make them more accurate.


How many times have you gone out and left your wallet or purse at home? The designers behind iPhone consider all scenarios to ensure better use and synergy of their phones, and Apple Pay is an excellent example. Apple Pay was introduced to the public in 2014 and works by linking a smartphone to a compatible debit or credit card account. Once this is set up, you can head out with just your iPhone and make multiple contactless payments by simply scanning your device across a payment terminal installed with NFC technology.

Clearly, Apple Pay has caught on very well. The service currently has more than 12 million monthly users in 15 countries, with transactions increasing by 500% between 2015 and 2016!

Overall, it’s fair to say that the iPhone has significantly changed multiple aspects of our lives — although, who knows what’s yet to come.

This article was researched and created by Torro Cases — an iPhone case supplier based in north-east England since 2013.  



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