A first-generation iPhone in its original box recently sold for over AU$92,000 by auction house LCG, after starting at AU$3,600 and receiving a total of 27 bids. The 8GB model was owned by tattoo artist Karen Green, who was given the phone as a gift back in 2007 shortly after it launched.
Karen left the iPhone unopened for 16 years. In the original listing from LCG auctions, they describe how she was given the phone by friends, but as she had just bought a new phone herself, she never opened it and a couple of years later she was told that it could be valuable to a collector.
"We are pleased to present an iconic factory-sealed, first-release iPhone in outstanding condition," LCG writes. "Our offering was consigned by the phone’s original owner, Karen Green, and is coupled with a great backstory that was first shared on the Treasure Hunt segment of the syndicated television show The Doctor & The Diva. This is the first original iPhone in acceptable condition to hit the auction block since the record-breaking sale in October."
The auction was open between February 2 and February 19, and in the end, the first-gen iPhone sold for US$63,356.40, more than 105 times its original price.
Apple products have always had a certain cult-like following, beloved for their sleek, minimalist design and groundbreaking features. The original iPhone was unveiled by the late Steve Jobs at Macworld, San Francisco, with the well-known phrase "Apple is going to reinvent the phone."
It launched with a 4GB or 8GB capacity, for US$499 and US$599 respectively, and was the combination of a mobile phone and an iPod, with an internet connection. It also had a 2MP camera, which is nothing compared to today's 200MP camera sensors, but was wildly impressive in 2007.
At the time, Nokia was the world's largest phone maker (remember them?), while Blackberry devices were enjoyed by business users. The iPhone was revolutionary in part because it appealed to the public and cut out hardware buttons seen on most phones to replace them with a touchscreen interface.
It's not hyperbole to say that, 16 years after its launch, the iPhone has become the most iconic electronic device ever invented. The best iPhone devices are still considered the best camera phone by many today, with the Apple iPhone 14 Pro leading the way in 2023.
Is it so hard to believe that this pristine iPhone is worth over AU$92,000 dollars? First-generation iPhones have previously sold at around AU$43,000 to blue-chip investors and Apple collectors. And because Karen's phone was in its original sealed packaging, and an 8 GB rather than 4 GB model, its value soared. The phone can't actually be used, as AT&T’s 2.5G Edge network has been shuttered, so its true value lies in the history and the legacy of the device, rather than the material product.
Check out all the iPhone generations to date