Why iPhone X is Apple's most important phone in 10 years

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It seems natural to take Apple’s latest creation, the iPhone X, as the culmination of the company’s decade of experience, its successes and failures, all sealed into this forward-thinking device.

By looking back at what came before is the way we usually come to understand a new phone. But when it comes to the X, which Apple unveiled in celebration of the ten years that have passed since the launch of the very first iPhone, things are different.

Sandwiched between this and the debut of the iPhone are many devices, each trying something new and each informing how we think the future of Apple’s smartphone line should proceed.

But here’s the kicker: the iPhone X is only Apple’s second important phone. 

That’s not to knock down the phones that came before it. As brilliant and impacting as many of them were, the X makes it clear that everything that happened between 2007 and now were merely experiments, minor variations of the same rhythm set into motion by the debut smartphone.

X marks the change

It might have been just a coincidence that Apple’s popularity was ramping up as its computing operating system graduated into its tenth iteration, Mac OS X (pronounced oh-ess-ten) but settling on the name “iPhone X” (pronounced eye-fone-ten) feels like an homage to that milestone from over 15 years ago.

I don’t want to focus too much on making a connection that might not exist at all, but it seems that, at its core, the iPhone X is a similar achievement and not just a nod to the past. 

While the design and feature set are obviously a grand departure to Apple’s first phone, it’s relatively easy to see the DNA it inherited. On the outside, its shiny, rounded corners are reminiscent, as is its fresh start with a brand new user interface, parting ways with Apple’s long-standing home button to pave the way forward (or at least try to) with Face ID. 

For me, the link between the first iPhone and iPhone X couldn’t be more clear. And now that Apple has turned the page on the last decade of its own smartphones, with the iPhone 8 being perhaps the last vestige of its “old” design, the iPhone X marks Apple’s new home base to build off of, and the original iPhone may no longer be the guiding beacon. 

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