The latest iPhone is the iPhone 14, which launched last September — but it all started in 2007, and the first Apple-made smartphones launched that year are now worth more than their $499 starting price.
An original, unlocked iPhone 1 is now up for auction (via AppleInsider), and is expected to fetch up to $50,000 (that’s about £41,480 / AU$72,235 at today’s exchange rate). That’s not a bad return on an investment after 16 years.
This is “one of the most significant and popular inventions of our lives” according to the auction listing, a device that “changed the smartphone industry forever” and which is “now widely regarded as an excellent asset among discerning collectors”.
The auctioneers point to two previous auctions of similar items that came close to the $40,000 mark, and the price seems likely to increase over the years. As we write this, the highest bid for the item is over $11,000, and the auction runs through next Thursday.
It’s clearly one of the most important gadgets of the century—maybe the gadget of the century—but it doesn’t hold up as much as a phone of today: the screen is tiny at 3.5 inches from corner to corner (with a resolution of 480 by 320 pixels), and the storage capacity is a maximum of 16GB. There is a single 2MP camera on the back.
Our review of the first iPhone is still available to read online, and while we liked the intuitive interface and “dazzling display,” we were disappointed by the lack of 3G connectivity (remember that?) and fixed-focus camera.
Analysis: Wipe out the drawers
Seeing the price of the Apple iPhone 1 skyrocket a hundredfold over the course of 16 years goes to show how popular this particular smartphone is — so while it’s worth checking your drawers at home for vintage and vintage tech, don’t expect to make a fortune out of, say, the Google Pixel 2. .
It’s not just about age, it’s the manufacturer that counts, and the place the device holds in history, when it comes to making assessments of older technology. Collectors seem to love Apple, and you might remember that the Apple-1 computer made by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak fetched $400,000 in 2021.
Condition is also crucial—you won’t get much closer to your classic hardware if you’ve been using it for a few years before putting it back in its box. If you’re planning to get into the long-term technology investment game, keep your electronics sealed in their original packaging.
It’s hard to predict what might be the next must-have piece of collectible tech, but gaming consoles and Apple hardware are likely good bets — if you can afford them, it might be worth keeping an Apple AR/VR headset or Nintendo Switch 2 stashed away. Away somewhere, if and when it is eventually launched.
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