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iPhone 8: just how new are these new features?

The iPhone 8 is right around the corner, and it looks set to include a ton of new features and technologies. 3D facial recognition, inductive charging, OLED display, a virtual Home button – the list goes on. But how many of these selling points are actually new and how many are just building on ideas that somebody else invented first?

A recent piece by Bloomberg decided to dive into that exact question, and the results are pretty interesting. The following image shows all of the (expected) key technologies of the iPhone 8, annotated with the smartphones that already have similar features.

The article then goes into more detail, showing a timeline of key technologies and who implemented them first.

Apple led the way with some huge, game-changing features: the iPhone was the first smartphone to feature an App Store, it was the first to rock a high-res Retina display, and Siri was the first artificial voice assistant for mobile. Every smartphone has variants of these technologies now.

In other departments, though, Apple was happy not to innovate but to watch and learn as other companies trailed ideas. OLED displays and inductive charging have been around in some form since 2009, while fingerprint scanning and mobile payments were tested on rival devices years before Touch ID and Apple Pay were introduced.

Apple’s philosophy has always been that it wants to be the best; it doesn’t care about being the first.

It’s worth looking through Bloomberg’s full research if you’re interested in the rest of the data – but for most of us iPhone and iPad users, we should take solace in Apple’s compromise between innovation and refinement. It results in better devices.