Over the last ten years, smartphones have gone from the latest technological gimmick, to a borderline essential in our day-to-day lives. Checking email and social networks while on the move was, for the longest time, a novelty, thanks to data caps and slow roaming speeds.
Fast forward a decade, and smartphones have become as essential to both the common person and the online professional alike, whether it's for gaming, emailing clients, keeping in touch with family and friends, meeting new people, ordering food, getting a taxi… The list truly is endless, and our daily lives have begun to evolve around the usage of apps which were few and far between at the beginning of the decade.
And as our use of mobile devices has changed, so have the devices themselves. From that awkward transition from button keys to all-touch screens, to the ever expansion of screen sizes. Here's the short version of how mobile devices have evolved over the last decade.Phones with buttons
Reverse time back to early in the decade and smartphones were certainly an established thing, with Android already hovering around version 4.0, but they still weren't widespread in the same way they are now - nor were they as uniform. They all tried their own unique selling point.
Many smartphones from 2010 boasted buttons, believe it or not, but not just home, back and menu. No, some had navigational pads, a full number pad, or perhaps even a slide-out keyboard - practically unthinkable in the modern era.
My first smartphone was 2011's Sony Experia Mini Pro, which sported a tiny screen and a slide-out keyboard, which was actually great for programming buttons in emulators. Glory days.
But eventually, all smartphones would begin to homogenise. A home button at most, a large touchscreen, and that's all because of the iPhone.iPhone influence
The iPhone was a sensation when it launched in 2007, but its influence in the mobile market wasn't felt immediately. Instead, it was a slow burn over time, a burn which saw all other device manufacturers fall in line.
The iPhone was sleek, and the App Store offered loads of content for users instantly - much of it free to use, at least initially. It took concepts we'd seen before dozens of times, like the video chat we had on MSN Messenger and Skype already, and rebranded them as iPhone-exclusive innovations. But the biggest innovation Apple made was making smartphones both a fashion statement for the technologically inclined, and an approachable way to enjoy the benefits of technology for those who are less so.
Where iPhones went, other manufacturers followed. Technology stopped being ugly, and quickly became a stylish necessity, apps were far easier to use than traditional computer programs, to the point where parents who could barely use DVD players were suddenly uploading holiday photo albums to Facebook.
The devices themselves quickly stepped in line too, with large screens, sleek designs, and even in recent years, a vast abandonment of the aux headphone jack in favour of adapters and wireless headsets. And now, we see notched phone designs become the new trend Apple set, for better or for worse.Gaming phones and gimmicks
At the end of the decade, the mobile phone market had changed an absurd amount. Now, foldable phones are finally becoming a reality, with the Samsung Galaxy Fold being fixed and redesigned, and the upcoming Motorola Razr 2020 also innovating on the design front.
And of course, with the evolution of the devices, games have moved on too. Early-day sensations Angry Birds and Papi Jump are a distant memory now, replaced with full experiences like Fortnite and Call of Duty Mobile becoming playable on the move, and gaming-focused devices are now finally entering the market, like the Razer Phone, ASUS ROG Phone, and the Black Shark series.
But smart devices have stagnated for a few years now. We're finally moving into foldable territory, but they are prohibitively expensive. The most modest and affordable devices only add extra cameras to the back or nonsense features which just make the device harder to repair - I'm looking at you Samsung, with your rubbish "edge" displays.
The future of mobile devices is hard to predict, but if the last ten years are anything to go by, then we can safely say that all of the devices we own right now will become useless in the next few years. Comforting that some things never change.