For the most part, all aspects of the iPhone are improvements on prior stuff. Tablets existed before hand in one form or another (I have a tablet made in '04, and PDAs and such going back to '96). Even having a touch screen general purpose computing device in a phone form factor with phone capabilities isn't new. However, what the iphone largely has done, is push things farther than they'd been done before.
For instance, I cannot think of a wireless device that synced with the cloud automatically, and had built in support for that. Most required effort on the user's part in order to even set up backup, and usually they had to manually initiate it each time. Part of that, was due to the expense of data before the iPhone came along. Apple mostly lucked out with being able to do that.