iPhone X excitement makes people nostalgic for an 8-year-old phone

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Palm Pre iPhone X
It may look different to the iPhone X, but this is the one many people are reminded of.
Photo: Abul Hussain/Flickr CC

The iPhone X’s futuristic features have some folks thinking Back to the Future. Almost immediately after Apple’s big event this week, some were waxing nostalgic about an eight-year-old device that in some respects, resembles Apple’s latest handset.

Palm Pre WebOS
The Palm Pre running WebOS.
Photo: Palm

The Pre-iPhone X

The phone they are reminded of is the Palm Pre, a reasonably successful slider phone which made its debut in 2009. While never a success of iPhone proportions, the Pre still carved out a reasonably loyal fanbase for its innovative features.

One of these was inductive charging. Today, this is something that a large number of Android handsets — as well as the iPhone X — offer, but back in 2009 the Palm Pre was all alone in this department. The technology had only fleetingly been used by other products, such as toothbrushes, but it was very innovative for a smartphone to include it.

iOS resembles WebOS on Palm Pre

The UI is the other reason most people are reminded of the iPhone X. Palm’s WebOS in some ways resembles iOS 11, with a multitasking, card-based interface.

Curiously, the iOS 11 interface for multitasking looks a whole lot like webOS for the Palm Pre. See the YouTube video above that walks you through WebOS. In addition, both systems have a dock for parking frequently used apps (although iOS 11’s is more adaptable and smarter). Like WebOS, apps in iOS 11 are quit by swiping up.

Interestingly, Palm at the time was led by Jon Rubinstein, Apple’s former head of hardware who took over the company after leaving Apple.

Of course, there are plenty of differences too. The Pre was a squat, chunky little device, with a much smaller screen. It had a hardware keyboard that slid out from underneath the screen. And there’s no sign of the iPhone X’s marquee features like biometric face scanning or Siri. Still, the Pre’s foreshadowing of some iPhone/iOS features is interesting and a lesson in tech history. Most of the latest, greatest features in technology have long and circuitous histories.

For more nostalgic fun, check out the Palm Pre keynote below.

And if any of you readers are former Palm users, please let us know of other commonalities. Did you own this device? Leave your comments below.