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The History of iPhone... an interesting hobby!

This post is in no way related to video production, photography or digital media. It isn't even related to OOTAP in general but it's something I personally wanted to share as I know there are a lot of people in our blog audience who will appreciate this!

Last November I stumbled across an iPhone 3G, in very good condition! It still powered on, and only hd a few light scuffs and cracks across the plastics. I took a bit of time to clean it up, clear out the years of built up fluff in the ports, and polish out what scratches I could. It came up great, and I decided it would make a neat little collectable.

That, gave me an idea. What if I could find more of these, restore them into similarly decent shape, and find away of preserving and displaying them, a little appreciation piece to the classic design of iPhone through the years.

For those of you who know me personally, you'll know I have for a long time been a bit of a fanatic for Apple and their Products, so this felt like a great little project that could end up being rather rewarding!

I came to the conclusion eBay was the place to go, and started hunting for listings for older iPhones. It quickly became apparent that the first generation from 2007 was going to be a no go, as the prices for ones in decent shape were astronomical! So I set my sights on the 3GS. At this point I had decided I wanted to make these look almost artistic by framing them in a kind of timeline, and that alternating between black and white (the only colours available at that time) would really help to sell the appeal of this completed piece. I did eventually come across a working and well preserved, white 3GS! Oddly, the white ones seemed to be rarer and carry a price premium, but with that one in the bag, it was time to move onto my all-time favourite iPhone, the 4. A good friend was good enough to donate his old iPhone 4 to me after hearing about my new little project, and it was in brilliant condition (aside from the layers of dust from sitting in a drawer for years). As a black one, it fit perfectly into the pattern. Next up, I had to find a white 4S, which was, as with the white 3GS, a difficult task. I eventually came across one with a thoroughly shattered front screen, but given it was the only viable option, I swiped it up along with an OEM replacement screen, which remarkable was still available in plentiful stock from an overseas repair parts supplier. After a quick repair and a good clean, the 4S was ready, and the lineup was really taking shape!

The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed the 5S in that picture, which I managed to get at the same time as the 4S for the extortionate price of £5 from Facebook Market Place! That left only the 5 to attain for the first framed piece I had in mind. Now I knew from experience of having this phone in slate black, that it chipped for fun, so finding one in acceptable condition was going to be a challenge - and I was right! I found many that were chipped, scratched, in some cases bent and horribly deformed, until eventually I stumbled across one listed as spares and repairs, in what I can only say is immaculate condition! Perfect, and even more ideal, was that no one else had bid on this one! So I managed to catch a bargain, and the perfect finishing piece for the first frame. Turns out this one just needed a new battery and it booted up fine, so I had the full lineup, ready to go and all in working order.

I had already found the frame style I wanted, simple, white, and allowing full focus on the models housed within. Each phone got a top up clean, and out came the ruler to line up the phones. After (a lot) of wonky attempts, they were finally there, and my first framed piece, that starts purely from a chance encounter, was ready! This was the start of something great (at least in my eyes).

At this point, I knew I wanted to do more, and carry on this project to really celebrate the design of the products that had really had an influence on me growing up. However, I knew the next frame, if I followed this trend, would end up getting quite costly, as it would take us aug to the iPhone X - still a very capable phone, and hence still holding a hefty price tag (even for damaged and non-working models). The solution, whilst I took time to build the next set in the background, would be to focus on other individual products and models to build the collection and truly reach into every corner of the heritage I'd set out to celebrate.

When I was given the iPhone 4 as I mentioned earlier, that particular friend was also gracious in offering up 2 iPhone 5C's that he also had laying around. I never had one of these myself, and at the time, like most people, disregarded it. Plastic didn't belong on iPhones (a sentiment I still stand by) and as an iPhone 5 in a coloured coat, it really never appealed to me.. However, having these and using them, I really can appreciate how good they feel, and the vibrant colours really are a nice touch. The red one had some considerable fading from the bizarre 'Dalek' case Apple put out for these, but the yellow wasn't quite so bad. I had so far only displayed the back of these phones, so the yellow would be great for this, but the red wasn't quite right. The front however was immaculate, so I decided an individual frame could display the back and the front, as the band of colour around the screen still gave off a unique look.

The iPhone 6 brough about a whole new design language for iPhone that would stay around for years, and the era of squared off edges was gone in favour of rounded softer edges At least for the time being. But there was one last phone bearing the iPhone 5 series design language, one that wouldn't be released until a number of years later, but one that would become an instant hit - the iPhone SE. There were a lot o these one bay, and I decided that the monochromatic scheme I had followed so far would't do justice to this little gem, and the pop of colour from the 5C display meant that another coloured option was on the cards. I opted for Rose Gold, as a unique and vibrant addition to the collection, and the particular model I found was nothing short of stunning.

This really was a great way to finish off the era of this design language. At the same time I found this phone, I also came across a unique product I hadn't considered until now - iPad. Namely, a fully functional, first generation iPad in relatively good shape, aside from a small dent to the back. Now my first iPad was the iPad 2, and while it was a sensational leap forward from the original, I still remember longing endlessly over the original iPad, so the opportunity to now own one couldn't be passed by! Playing around on this thing, whilst slow, was a real nostalgia trip, and a reminder that the design of iOS 4 was, in hindsight, gorgeous. I'm still not sure how to display this one, I don’t imagine it will lend itself to being framed in the way the much lighter phones have, and part of me feels like it still deserves to be used and held! Time will tell, but it’s a lovely addition to the collection nether the less.

Having the iPad in the collection helped me turn my attention to other iconic products that I wanted to showcase in the way I had begun with the phones, and as I knew the next full phone frame would be costly, now was the perfect time to look at what else was out there. Two factoors fuelled my decision to choose iPod Touch next.

1) It was the last device caterogy running iOS, so would make a fitting companion to the collection so far

2) The iPod Touch 3rd Gen was my first ever Apple Product, and one that holds a special place in my heart.

It was time to get back on eBay! Surprisingly there were quite a few iPod touches of all generations, at very reasonable prices! In one week I managed to secure first, 3rd, 4th and 5th gen models, all in decent condition and all, amazinglay, working. I chose to skip the 2nd and 6th generations as there were almost no visual changes to those models, and in this project I just wanted to showcase the design evolution. Now, anyone who knows these devices, knows that the polished steel casings on the back scratched for fun, and finding an up scratched model is a virtually impossible task! For the most part, i found models with comparitively limited scratching, and used a combination of methods (thank you, YouTube) to polish and buff out what I could, to surprisingly good results! I must say however, that the 3rd Gen I Stumbled across is perhaps one of the best preserved iPods I have ever seen, and the shine it has retained is simply incredible! Fitting, really. With all the models polished up and cleaned, it was time to frame them up!

As good as these framed products were looking, at this point I couldn’t help feel they were missing something. They needed an identifier, a name. These were display pieces after all, and any display piece needs something to tell its viewers what it is. This opened up a whole new can of worms, as the options were endless! I could use stickers, engraved metal plaques, printed backgrounds, I experimented with a number of options but none seemed to fit. WHatever the solution, it had to mirror the clean, minimal designs I was commemorating. The final idea came to me after purchasing the A7 Chip from Grid Studios (more on that one later). Their use of Acrylic to frame the content without distraction worked beautifully, and I came to the conclusion that using Apples original marketing logos for each of these devices would add that much needed identity. As it turns out, making this a reality was harder than expected as nowhere online seemed to offer such a thing, and in the end it was a local signage company who generously assisted with manufacturing these for me.

With some careful measuring, I added in the acrylic blocks and the transformation was instant! These pieces really did look complete in exactly the way I had imagined.

I couldn’t be happier with how far my initial idea had come, and these had swiftly become some of my most prized possessions. In the back of my mind though was still the thought of that Illusive OG iPhone, the one that revolutionised an industry and started it all. I had been keeping a steady eye out for one but time and time again the prices spiralled, or the condition of the phones was just terrible. One day, in a pure stroke of luck, I came across an eBay listing with very little detail, but from the blurry images I could see, it looked good, great in fact! I was shocked when I actually won the auction for the starting price as the only bidder, and it did seem a little bit too good to be true! It was in fact, quite the opposite.

The phone arrived, and for a 15 year old, portable device, the condition was incredible. But that wasn’t the biggest surprise - upon plugging the phone in, it actually booted, and worked! The screen was immaculate, and holding this phone genuinely felt like holding a piece of history.

This felt like it deserved more than the frames the other phones had received, and I wanted it to stand out as a true gem in the collection. WIth the significance of this phones release, I came up with a printed background to mount the phone on, and with that, I had the perfect addition to the collection.

I know some people will have their opinions on all this, that it’s a waste of time, money and effort, and even a bit of an eyesore, but to me, growing up almost idolising these devices but never really being able to afford them, this is something I have truly enjoyed, and aim to continue growing. It’s a way of celebrating something I’m passionate about, developing something unique, and in a way building an investment, as given that I’m not the only collector out there, it’s a fair assumption that the value of these will go up quite a bit as the years go on. Who knows what will be next, but for now, I’ll leave on a gallery of the images I have gathered throughout this process.

Thanks for Reading.

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