iPhone History: Every generation in order from 2007-2019

| |

Every generation or two, a technological advancement is made that is so significant it radically changes the foundation, direction, and momentum of society.

For example, the car, telephone, airplane, television, personal computer, and the internet have all dramatically shifted the very structure of modern society, opening up possibilities undreamed of before their creation and dramatically shifting the trajectory of those societies lucky enough to have access.

The latest technological advancement to have the same dramatic impact on society is the iPhone.

It has made almost the entirety of the worlds knowledge available at a moments notice, reduced the time it takes to discover news and current events from days or even weeks to mere seconds, facilitated the ever-growing, central role of social media in our everyday lives, and spawned an industry worth $58.7 billion/year that employs 19 million people around the world.

But Apple didn’t start out with a plan to change the foundation of society as we know it. Yet they did set out to revolutionize the phone. The whole world-shaking thing came much later.

Table of Contents

iPhone Timeline: iPhone Generations History at a Glance

Below we go into more details about how the history of the iPhone played out, here’s a summary of the key events that have taken place over the past twelve years:

  • June 29, 2007 – First iPhone is released
  • July 11, 2008 – iPhone 3G hits stores
    • the iPhone is sold in 42 countries worldwide
    • 3G capabilities
  • July 15, 2008 – First iPhone discontinued
  • June 19, 2009 – iPhone 3GS is released
    • the iPhone is sold in 36 new countries
  • June 7, 2010 – iPhone 3G discontinued
  • June 24, 2010 – iPhone 4 launches
    • FaceTime is introduced
  • February 10, 2011 – the iPhone becomes available on Verizon in the United States, breaking Apple’s long-time exclusivity contract with AT&T
  • October 14, 2011 – iPhone 4S is released
    • Siri and iCloud
    • The iPhone goes to China
  • September 12, 2012 – iPhone 3GS discontinued
  • September 21, 2012 – iPhone 5 launches
    • 4G LTE capability included for the first time
  • September 10, 2013 – iPhone 4 discontinued
  • September 20, 2013 – iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S launch
    • Five new colors (5C)
    • Slo-mo camera
    • Touch ID (unlock with fingerprint)
  • September 9, 2014 – iPhone 4S discontinued
  • September 19, 2014 – iPhone 6 and 6 Plus
    • NFC and Apple Pay
  • September 9, 2015 – iPhone 5 discontinued
  • September 25, 2015 – iPhone 6 and 6 Plus
  • March 21, 2016 – iPhone 5S and 5C discontinued
  • March 31, 2016 – iPhone SE is released
  • September 16, 2016 – iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
    • No more headphone jack
  • September 22, 2017 – iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
    • Wireless charging
  • November 3, 2017 – iPhone X
    • All-screen device (no more Home button)
    • OLED display
    • Face ID
  • September 12, 2018 – iPhone 6, 6S, 6S+, SE, and X discontinued
  • September 21, 2018 – iPhone XS and XS Max
  • September 26, 2018 – iPhone XR
  • September 10, 2019 – iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max

iPhones Still in Circulation

As you can see, most of the iPhones released in the last 12 years have been discontinued, usually two years after it is released. But there are quite a few you can still get. Models still available include:

  • iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
  • iPhone SE (only in clearance)
  • iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
  • iPhone XS and XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Max

The Birth of the iPhone

The first iPhone was released in 2007, but the history of the iPhone starts well before then in the development of multiple different projects all wrapped up under the codename Project Purple.

2003: A new way to use computers?

The birth of the revolutionary technology that would eventually power the iPhone didn’t start with a grand vision for reshaping the way we communicate. It started with a plan to fix the most cumbersome parts of a computer: the mouse.

In 2003, Apple started internal experimentation to find a way to replace the mouse with a touchpad that offered much more control and flexibility. Their initial design, a tablet-sized, finger-controlled interface known as the Model 035, allowed users to pinch, scroll, and zoom – all things that were currently unavailable on modern computers.

This project was eventually put aside though when it became clear that Apple had more pressing issues…

2004: The Rise and Fall of the iPod

The iPod was released in 2001 and quickly became not only a consumer favorite (eventually selling nearly 400 million units) but also one of Apple’s major revenue streams.

But even as iPod sales were climbing rapidly, Apple’s executive team knew its days were limited. Customers were carrying around both an iPod and a mobile phone and were convinced that the mobile phones would eventually have the ability to play music, something that would make iPods obsolete.

To keep the company profitable and maintain its position as a market leader in tech innovation, Apple executives knew they needed to come up with the next generation of mobile phones before their competitors did.

2005: The Rokr E1

Apple’s first step in this direction was to partner with Motorola for the release of the Rokr E1. It was an iTunes compatible mobile phone that allowed consumers to store songs and play them through an iPod-like interface. Unfortunately, it’s significant limitations meant it was never going to redefine the market. It was only able to hold 100 songs, its clunky interface was difficult to navigate, and its slow upload rate was frustrating to use.

Recommended Reading

These limitations made it clear to Apple that they needed to produce their own solution.

2005: The Birth of an Idea

The initial idea to create their own phone with a touchscreen display came straight from the top of the company.

In an appearance at the All Things D conference in 2010, Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and CEO at the time, recounted the moment the idea of the iPhone was born.

“I’ll tell you a secret. It began with the tablet. I had this idea about having a glass display, a multi-touch display you could type on with your fingers. I asked our people about it. And six months later, they came back with this amazing display. And I gave it to one of our really brilliant UI guys. He got scrolling working and some other things, and I thought, ‘My God, we can build a phone with this!’ So we put the tablet aside, and we went to work on the iPhone.”

From there, Project Purple was born.

2006: Project Purple

The Apple research and development team dropped all other projects and this new mobile phone, known internally as “Project Purple,” became the top priority.

The first hurdle Apple had to overcome in developing the iPhone wasn’t related to the technology or the manufacturing. It was building a team!

To avoid their competitors discovering their category-defining innovation, Steve Jobs was adamant that no-one from outside the company could work on Project Purple. He was so concerned about security that even those who were being internally recruited couldn’t be told what they were working on before they joined.

Once a team was chosen, they were split into two separate but closely integrated teams: hardware and software. They spent many long nights and weekends brainstorming, testing, and iterating different versions in their dedicated building on the Apple Cupertino campus, and conditions inside the building quickly got weird:

“Very much like a dorm, people were there all the time. It smelled something like pizza, and in fact on the front door of the Purple Dorm we put a sign up that said ‘Fight Club’ – because the first rule of that project was to not talk about it outside those doors.”

Scott Forstall – Apple’s Senior Vice President of iOS

Their hard work eventually yielded results when a design prototype was finalized in Spring 2006, looking quite similar to Apple’s 2004-era iPod Mini (a metallic body with rounded edges).

Internal concerns about the rounded sides making the iPhone appear too large were eventually taken on board, and only a few months before its release, the design was changed to the now-iconic rectangular body with rounded corners and a full-face glass display with a singular button.

2007: The last-minute change to Gorilla Glass

In January 2007, Steve Jobs proudly strode onto the stage at the MacWorld 2007 convention and unveiled the iPhone to raucous applause from loyal Apple fans. But one thing that can’t be seen clearly in that video is that the iPhone he’s holding is not the one that eventually made it into consumers’ hands.

The day after his keynote address, Steve called Jeff Williams, the now-head of design at Apple and COO, and told him that the screen had to be changed to glass. Jeff’s had already looked into this:

The iPhone Steve Jobs is holding has scratches on the screen. Not because someone had used a piece of sharpened metal to gouge slivers into the glass, but because the screen on the original iPhone is made of hardened plastic – the same plastic used on iPod screens.

“I’ve been looking at that, and in 3 to 4 years, technology may evolve, and we can do that.”

Steve’s reply was simple, direct, and straight-forward:

“You don’t understand. When it ships in June, it needs to be glass.”

Two days later, Wendell Weeks, the CEO of Corning, called Williams after speaking with the Apple CEO. He had a solution.

In 1962, Corning launched Project Muscle – an innovation drive to find new solutions to existing problems and invent new products.

One of the most promising inventions to come out of this project was known internally as 0317. Engineers tweaked a recently developed method for reinforcing glass and created a new type of glass so strong they cold throw fortified tumblers off the roof of their 9-story headquarters without them breaking.

Their internal testing showed that while normal glass could withstand 7,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, Chemcor, as it became known, could withstand 100,000 pounds of pressure per square inch – opening up a new world of applications that were previously unsuitable for glass.

Initial interest was strong, with windshield and eye safety wear manufacturers seeing it’s potential, but as further testing revealed issues with how the glass shattered when it did break, Corning was forced to put the projectback on their research and development shelves.

But the idea to dust it off and experiment further with it came in 2005 with the release of the Motorola Razr V3. It was the first mobile to feature a glass screen and it prompted Corning to explore whether there were any modern applications for Chemcor.

Testing to reduce the thickness of the glass from its 4mm thickness hadn’t produced much progress by the time Steve Jobs called in 2007, but even though Apple was requesting 1.3mm thick super-strong glass, Corning said they could do it.

Hundreds of hours of testing went into the development of what is now known as Gorilla Glass, and just 11 days before the first iPhone was released, Apple issued a press release breaking the news that the iPhone would now have a glass screen.


iPhone Generations Development

With each new generation of the iPhone, Apple has sought to push their phone to the limits of what is technologically capable.

Here is the complete history of the iPhone’s development, sales, access, availability, and controversies.

Generation 1: The First iPhone

First iPhone Release Date – June 29, 2007

In the months and even years leading up to the release of the first iPhone, rumors had been swirling around the web about an iPod that could also work as a phone. So, when Steve Jobs finally took the stage at the MacWorld convention on June 29th, 2007 to announce “We’re going to reinvent the phone,” iPhone history begun, and the era of smartphones was officially upon us.

To say that Jobs was right that this new product would disrupt the world of phones is an understatement. By September of the same year, Apple had sold its millionth iPhone. Since then, sales have grown steadily, and by 2017, they had sold more than 2 billion iPhones. But what was so special and unique about this first iPhone?

iPhone 2G Features and Functionality

According to Apple, the first version of the iPhone was actually a combination of three products. It was:

  • A revolutionary mobile phone
  • A widescreen iPod with touch controls
  • A breakthrough Internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, searching, and maps.

It’s natural to want to anoint the innovative touch screen as the most novel feature since up until this point nothing like it existed. But the first iPhone was also a brand new phone in that it allowed people to make calls by simply pointing at and touching a name in their contacts list.

This type of functionality had never been seen before, and it helped make the iPhone truly unique. Furthermore, the introduction of Visual Voicemail made it possible for users to read their voicemails as texts instead of having to listen to them.

The first iPhone also featured a full QWERTY keyboard on a soft touchscreen. Before the iPhone, phones with full keyboards, such as the Blackberry, made us of a hard keyboard, which reduced the size of the screen. Wanting to make the iPhone a full-screen device, Apple invented a touchscreen that was more accurate and more responsive than any other phone in history.

Because of this, the first iPhone was also described as a “full-screen iPod.” This idea of having a full-screen device with a beautiful, easy-to-use interface changed the course of mobile phone history. Today, nearly all smartphones today are built using this design concept.

The other defining feature of the first iPhone was its functionality as a mobile browser and email client. Up until this point in smartphone history, surfing the web on your phone required using a mobile-specific browser that was clunky and featureless. However, with the iPhone, users could now surf the web on Apple’s Safari browser in much the same way that they could on their desktop.

First iPhone Specs

The First iPhone

Another thing that amazed people about the first iPhone was its size. Despite its state of the art capabilities, it was just .046 inches (11.6 mm) thick, and it weighed only 4.8 ounces (135 grams). And with a diagonal screen size of just 3.5 inches (8.89 cm), it could easily fit into your pocket or purse. In this sense, it was one of the world’s first true handheld computers. In terms of the screen, the first iPhone boasted a resolution of 320 x 400 pixels and around 160 pixels per inch (ppi), which is the standard measure of pixel density.

In terms of other specifications, the first iPhone included:

  • A 2-megapixel camera (the front-facing camera was not included in the first model)
  • A Samsung 32-bit, 412 MHz processor with 128 GB RAM (note: at this point in iPhone history, Apple was not making its own processors)
  • Bluetooth 2.0 capability
  • The first version of iOS, which was upgradable to iOS 3.3
  • WiFi capability
  • Document viewer
  • Photo/video viewer
  • Predictive text input
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • Google Maps integration
  • GPS
  • HTML support
  • 8 hours talk time on 2G
  • 6 hours of battery life on WiFi
  • 7 hours of battery life for videos
  • 24 hours of battery life for watching videos
  • 4GB internal memory ($499) or 8GB ($599)

First iPhone Countries and Carriers

By Christmas of 2007, Apple dropped these prices, much to the chagrin of consumers, and this helped to boost sales. But one of the things that really held back iPhone sale in the beginning, even though the numbers are still quite staggering, was that the phone was only available in limited countries and on limited networks.

In the U.S., for example, the iPhone was only offered through the wireless carrier Cingular. This would change in the coming years, but an exclusivity contract between the two companies meant that one needed to be a Cingular customer to enjoy the state-of-the-art technology included in the iPhone.

In addition to the United States, the iPhone was also sold in the United Kingdom and Germany using similar exclusive contracts like the one between Apple in Cingular.

During its first year, the iPhone also became available in Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as France. However, Apple soon ran into legal trouble as many European phone carriers sued Apple for its exclusivity contract, a move which caused a temporary halt to iPhone sales in Europe. However, despite this limited release, iPhones got into the hands of people all over the world and expanding the market became a defining characteristic of the next chapter of iPhone history.

First iPhone Controversy: Early Adopter Tax

While the first iPhone was universally hailed as redefining personal communication, it wasn’t without controversy.

It’s initial recommended retail price of $599 was well beyond the cost of a typical mobile phone. While this didn’t deter tens of thousands of Apple fans queuing for hours to get their hands on one, there were some vocal members of the public who complained about the price.

Apple eventually caved to the public pressure and reduced the price to $399 after less than three months after release. Whilst those who had delayed their purchase were happy with the decision, Apple’s early adopters were outraged at having to pay an additional $200.

Apple ultimately listened to the growing frustrations of their most loyal supporters and gave them a $100 Apple gift voucher. N0t exactly $200, but enough to show their supporters they were valued.

Generation 2: iPhone 3G

iPhone 3G Release Date:  July 11, 2008

In the video above, Steve Jobs mentions some of the positives and negatives from the first year of iPhone history. He cited extremely high levels of customer satisfaction, as well as figures that showed people really were using the phone in the way it was meant to be used, i.e. people were using it for email, web browsing, and calling/texting. Furthermore, he discussed how six million iPhones had been sold in the product’s first year, with sales stopping only because the company ran out of products.

However, he also identified where the iPhone needed to go next. Specifically, he pointed to five things:

  • The iPhone needed to be faster
  • The iPhone needed to be cheaper
  • The iPhone needed to be available in more countries
  • The iPhone needed to be more compatible with third-party apps
  • The iPhone needed to be more suited for business

The way in which Jobs discussed these challenges was smart, as these ended up being the defining characteristics of the next chapter of iPhone history.

iPhone 3G Features and Functionality

Although the iPhone 3G ushered in a new era in the history of the iPhone, it was actually not a tremendous upgrade from the original version of the device. It addressed many of the issues mentioned above, but many other things stayed the same.

The most important change was that the iPhone 3G, as the name suggests, was equipped with 3G capability, which meant users could browse the web and download content much faster than they could with the original iPhone.

Another major change with the iPhone 3G was the introduction of the App Store, iOS 2, and developer software that made it possible for third-parties to create their own apps. Technically, this announcement came earlier in the year, but with the release of the iPhone 3G, there was now a device on which developers could place their apps. In this sense, the iPhone 3G turned the device into more than just a phone. It became a platform, a move that has helped turn Apple and the iPhone into the institutions they are today.

In terms of screen size, the iPhone 3G stayed the same as the original iPhone. However, Apple changed from using an aluminum backing to one made of polycarbonate, a move that made the iPhone 3G slightly lighter. It also allowed Apple to offer the iPhone in different colors, black or white.

iPhone 3G Specs

iphone 3g

As mentioned, there weren’t a ton of changes between the first iPhone and the iPhone 3G. For example, the phone screen stayed the same size at 3.5 inches (8.89 cm). But because of the new materials, the iPhone 3G weighed slightly less (4.7 ounces/133g as compared to 4.8 ounces/136g), and the screen resolution was bumped up to 380 x 420 pixels, giving it around 165 ppi. As for the other specs, many stayed the same, such as the processor speed and RAM, and most improvements, with the exception of 3G capability, were slight. Here’s a summary of the changes:

  • 3G capability, as the name suggests
  • Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
  • iOS 2.0, but can support up to iOS 4.2 (upgraded from the original iOS)
  • A-GPS, which allowed for more accurate location services.
  • 5 hours talk time or web browsing on 3G
  • 10 hours talk time on 2G
  • 6 hours of battery life on WiFi
  • 7 hours of battery life for videos
  • 24 hours of battery life for just music
  • 8 GB ($199) or 16 GB ($299) of storage space (up from 4 or 8)

As you can see, one of the biggest changes resulting from the release of the iPhone 3G was not only the increased network capacity but also the price. This new version of the iPhone retailed for less than half than the first model.

iPhone 3G Countries and Networks

As Steve Jobs mentioned when introducing the iPhone 3G, Apple made it a priority to expand its market presence to many more countries. So, when the iPhone 3G hit the market on July 11th, 2008, it was sold in stores in the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

On July 17, 2008, the iPhone was released in France, and by August, it was released in twenty-two more countries, which were:

  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Czech Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Liechtenstein
  • Macau
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • The Philippines
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Uruguay

However, despite expanding to new countries, Apple continued to make use of exclusivity contracts with certain carriers. For example, in the U.S., the iPhone was still only available through one network, AT&T (formerly Cingular). However, elsewhere in the world, these exclusivity contracts were not as ironclad. The iPhone was sold on multiple networks in counties throughout Europe, and this was a sign of what was to come in the next phases of iPhone history.

Generation 3: iPhone 3GS

iPhone 3GS Release Date: June 19, 2009

The release of the iPhone 3GS marked a new beginning in iPhone history largely because it was was the first iPhone to receive an interim update. The “S” after “3G” became Apple’s way of indicating that the phone was new but that it also maintained many of the same features as the previous version. Part of the reason for this was that the iPhones had become so popular that people began expecting a new version every year, but the technology was not advancing fast enough for there to be a dramatically new version every year.

In fact, part of the reason why the iPhone 3G came so quickly after the first iPhone was that Apple, in 2007, felt pressure to get the first iPhone onto the market. Some even argue they rushed its release and that the iPhone 3G was the real aim of all the initial research and development that went into the phone. Nevertheless, by 2009, the iPhone had become a staple in the wireless phone market, and there was immense incentive to come out with a new version every year to keep up with sales and rising stock prices.

iPhone 3GS Features and Functionality

In terms of features and functionality, the iPhone 3GS did not change all that much from the iPhone 3G. It included all of the same features as the first two iPhones plus:

  • VoiceOver for Accessibility
  • Voice control (not quite Siri, but we’re on the way)
  • Nike + iPod for training
  • An inline remote on the headphone cable

These changes were nice, but what really made the iPhone 3GS different was how it was built on the inside.

iPhone 3GS Specs

iphone 3gs

The main differences that came with the release of the iPhone 3GS were some of its internal specifications. It actually weighed slightly more than the iPhone 3G, but only by .1 ounces/2.8g (the total weight returned to the original 4.8 oz./136g), but the screen size and resolution stayed the same. This means that the biggest upgrades were made to the camera, the processor, and the battery. More specifically, the iPhone 3G included:

  • A 600 MHz processor with 256 MB RAM
  • A 3.0-megapixel camera that allowed for video recording
  • Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
  • A digital compass
  • 5 hours talk time or web browsing on 3G
  • 12 hours talk time on 2G (up from 10)
  • 9 hours of battery life on WiFi (up from 6)
  • 10 hours of battery life for videos (up from 7)
  • 30 hours of battery life for just music (up from 24)
  • 16 GB ($199) 32 GB ($299) of internal memory (up from 8 or 16)

iPhone 3GS Carriers and Countries

At this point in iPhone history, the iPhone was still only available on AT&T in the United States. Abroad, it was carried by a number of different companies, such as Vodafone, TMobile, O2, Airtel, Movistar, and many more.

With the release of the iPhone 3GS, Apple also expanded the number of countries in which the phone was available, in addition to the countries that were introduced to the iPhone with the release of the 3G, people in the following countries were able to purchase this revolutionary device starting in 2009:

  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Croatia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Egypt
  • Guinea
  • Indonesia
  • Ivory Coast
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Madagascar
  • Mali
  • Mauritius
  • Nicaragua
  • Niger
  • Latvia
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Poland
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Africa
  • Senegal
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Venezuela

Between the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 3Gs, Steve Jobs and co. managed to achieve their goal of making the iPhone a truly global device. There are a few notable countries missing from this list, the most prominent being China. But considering the political climate in China and the relative difficulty U.S. companies have selling their products there, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. But the size and the buying power of the Chinese market has always been too much for a company such as Apple to resist. However, it would be some time before the history of the iPhone would begin in the world’s most populous country. Nevertheless, by the end of 2009, there were iPhones in almost every corner of the globe.

Generation 4: iPhone 4

iPhone 4 Release Date: June 24, 2010

Some 30 million iPhones were sold in the first three years of the phone’s history, making it one of the most popular and highly-desired products in the entire world. However, Apple, with its unquenchable thirst for innovation, wanted to move forward with the latest version of their signature the device. So, the iPhone 4, which launched on June 24, 2010, was the first time in iPhone history that Apple did a complete makeover of the device.

Of course, some things stayed the same, but so much of the phone was different that it’s clear to see how the release of this device launched a new era in the history of the iPhone. Many call the iPhone 4 the first “modern phone,” largely because all subsequent models have been based on it in one way or another.

During the launch event, Jobs claimed there were more than 100 new features in the iPhone 4 as compared to the 3GS. Here’s a summary of some of the most important.

iPhone 4 Features and Functionality

One of the most exciting things to come from the iPhone 4 was the release of FaceTime. Making use of the iPhone’s new front-facing camera, users could easily and clearly video chat with other iPhone users, providing people with a brand new way to communicate with one another. The ability to use FaceTime is something that helped make the iPhone an even more important device in the lives of so many people around the world. However, what really made the iPhone 4 special were the upgrades it received on the inside as well as its brand new design.

iPhone 4 Specs

iphone 4

The most obvious difference between the iPhone 4 and all previous models is how it looks. The first versions of the phone were made from glass and plastic, but for the first time ever, a phone was made from stainless steel, which Apple claimed made it stronger and lighter than any other phone in history.

One thing that was interesting about this phone was that Apple built the antennae directly into the phone’s stainless steel frame. This was initially lauded as a feat in engineering, but after some time, it was discovered that this design element actually impeded the phone’s ability to make calls. For example, putting your hand near the bottom of the phone would cause signal strength to suffer, and it even caused some calls to drop. Steve Jobs famously denied this was an issue when it was brought to his attention by the press and users, a scandal that became known as Atennaegate, but he eventually admitted the design flaw. In the meantime, Apple gave the iPhone 4 users a bumper to put around the phone that prevented signal issues. 

However, despite this problem, the iPhone 4 was still one of the most innovative versions of the device to ever be released. It was a full 25 percent thinner than the iPhone 3GS, but it still weighed 4.8 ounces/136g. The screen size remained the same, but it received a major upgrade. The new version’s resolution was improved to 960 x 640 pixels. However, the biggest upgrade came in pixel density. The Phone 4 screen produced 326ppi, which was twice that of all previous models, giving the iPhone 4 the clearest screen in iPhone history.  

Apple dubbed this “Retina display” because it claimed this level of clarity was higher than that which the human eye could perceive, making text on the screen appear more like that of a printed book. This claim came under scrutiny, but nevertheless, these specs made the phone’s screen one of the clearest and most precise the world have seen. It would be seven years before Apple came out with a screen better than this one.

Other device specs include:

  • A 5-megapixel rear camera with LED flash capable of recording videos in 720p
  • A VGA-quality front-facing camera for FaceTime
  • A 32-bit, Apple A4 processor, with speeds up to 1GHz and 512MB of RAM (the first time Apple included its own processor in the device)
  • A Micro-sim tray (GSM versions only)
  • 2 microphones, one for noise canceling to help make calls clearer
  • A 3-axis gyroscope
  • iOS 4.0, upgradable to iOS 7
  • 7 hours talk time on 3G (up from 6)
  • 6 hours of web browsing time on 3G (up from 5)
  • 14 hours talk time on 2G (up from 12)
  • 10 hours of battery life on WiFi (up from 9)
  • 10 hours of battery life for videos (no change)
  • 40 hours of battery life for just music (up from 30)
  • 16 GB ($199) 32 GB ($299) of internal memory (no change) with a two-year contract with AT&T

iPhone 4 Countries and Carriers

In terms of new countries and carriers, not much changed with the release of the iPhone 4. However, in February of 2011, before the release of the next version of the iPhone, Apple released a new version of the device that could function on CDMA networks. This marked an important moment in iPhone history as it meant that the phone could now work on Verizon and Sprint in the U.S., which effectively ended the exclusivity between Apple and AT&T that had defined the first three years of iPhone history. On February 10, 2011, Verizon sold its first iPhone, and in October of that year, the phone became available to Sprint customers as well.

iPhone 4 Controversy: Antenna-Gate

As sales of the iPhone 4 continued to climb, consumes started to notice an annoying glitch – when they held their phone in a particular way, they lost reception. The existence of this issue was repeatedly denied by Apple execs.

As public awareness and frustration with this issue continued to grow, Apple finally acknowledged it as a real problem.

Their solution was not well received – “Just avoid holding it in that way.”

iPhone History: Every generation in order from 2007-2019 4
Image Source

The considerable backlash to this obviously inadequate solution prompted Apple to eventually offer free cases to all iPhone 4 users.

Generation 5: iPhone 4S

iPhone 4S Release Date: October 14, 2011

After several years of releasing the iPhone in the summer, Apple changed things up in 2011 by releasing the newest version of the device in October. Much like the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4S was an interim update to the phone. It gave it some new features and increased functionality, but most of the device stayed the same. However, as mentioned above, the iPhone, for the first time ever, had become available on all three major U.S. networks, opening the door for record first weekend sales. More than 1 million were sold on the first day, and Apple sold just over 4 million on the first weekend.

But the release of the iPhone 4S will go down in iPhone history as a momentous one for other reasons. Steve Jobs, one of Apple’s founders and one of the world’s most well-known entrepreneurs, passed away from pancreatic cancer just nine days before the phone was released to the world.

iPhone 4S Features and Functionality

The previous few upgrades Apple made to the iPhone were centered on improving its speed, screen, and cameras. The iPhone 4S was upgraded in all of these areas, but it also included some exciting new features that had never before been seen in iPhone history.

Perhaps the most exciting change was the introduction of Siri, Apple’s voice-controlled assistant that is still in use today and that in many ways introduced the consumer world to the functionality of Artificial Intelligence.

In addition to Siri, Apple also introduced the iCloud, which allowed people to store photos, videos, music, contacts, and much more in the cloud, which freed up space on the device, something they most likely did in response to the complaint that there was never enough storage space on the iPhone. Apple also introduced iMessage to make texting between iPhone users easier, a notifications center, reminders, and Twitter integration, helping the iPhone stay at the top of the smartphone world.

iPhone 4S Specs

iphone 4s

When the iPhone 3GS was released, we were told the “S” stood for “speed,” meaning the focus of the upgrade was on making the phone faster. This was the case with the iPhone 4S, but the device also received other upgrades. Screen resolution and size stayed the same, but the iPhone 4S also included:

  • An 8-megapixel camera capable of shooting videos in 1080p (up from 5 mp an 720p)
  • An Apple A5, 32-bit, dual-core processor with speeds up to 1 GHz and 512 MB RAM
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • iOS 5 (upgradeable to iOS 9)
  • 8 hours talk time on 3G (up from 7)
  • 6 hours of web browsing time on 3G (no change)
  • 14 hours talk time on 2G (no change)
  • 9 hours of battery life on WiFi (down from 10)
  • 10 hours of battery life for videos (no change)
  • 40 hours of battery life for just music (up from 30)
  • 16GB ($199) 32GB ($299), or 64GB ($399) of internal memory (64GB model was added with the 4S)

Despite a host of new features and upgraded specs, Apple received a good deal of criticism from the general public for not doing enough with the iPhone 4S. By 2011, 4G LTE networks were growing in popularity, and many thought Apple would take the leap and release a phone ready to handle faster network speeds. However, analysts dubbed this release as a move towards the future, as the 4S set up the release of the iPhone 5, which really would change the course of iPhone history forever.

iPhone 4S Countries and Carriers

As mentioned, one of the biggest things to happen with the release of the iPhone 4S was making the device available on all three major U.S. networks, AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon.

In terms of countries, though, the iPhone 4S is monumental because it was the first time a full version of the iPhone was released in China. Counterfeit and stolen devices had been on the market for years, and in 2011 Apple released a version of the iPhone 3GS that didn’t have WiFi, but in January 2012, the iPhone 4S went to China, giving Apple unprecedented access to one of the world’s largest markets.

Generation 6: iPhone 5

iPhone 5 Release Date: September 21, 2012

While for some the release of the iPhone 5 came a year late, there’s no doubt that it was an exciting moment in iPhone history, mainly because it was the first iPhone to make use of the ultra-fast LTE networks being offered by AT&T and Verizon at the time. However, this was far from the only upgrade made with the iPhone 5.

iPhone 5 Features and Functionality

While the iPhone 5 represented an exciting change in the hardware and software Apple used to make its devices, this new version did not offer much in terms of new features, but there were some, such as:

  • An improved Siri
  • Apple Maps with turn-by-turn navigation
  • Apple Passbook (the precursor to Apple wallet)
  • Do Not Disturb
  • FaceTime over cellular networks (previously, it only worked on WiFi)
  • Facebook integration

These upgrades certainly made the device better, but the real improvements came with its specifications.

iPhone 5 Specs

iPhone 5

The biggest change that came with the iPhone 5 was related to the display. After years of an iPhone with a 3.5-inch display, Apple finally made a change by expanding the screen to 4 inches. They also made the screen taller, giving it a resolution of 1136 x 640, a perfect 16:9 aspect ratio. Apple kept the 326 ppi Retina display, but by making the device taller, it fit more easily into a user’s hand.

Another major change came with the materials. After switching from glass and plastic to glass and stainless steel with the iPhone 4, Apple decided to change once again and make the iPhone 5 with glass and aluminum, a move that made this the lightest device in iPhone history. It weighed just 3.95 ounces (112 grams), which is 20 percent lower than the iPhone 4 and 4S. The iPhone 5 was also considerably thinner, and part of the reason Apple was able to do this was that it found a way to embed touch sensors into the screen, eliminating the need to put an extra layer on the phone to detect your fingers, something that naturally made the phone thicker.


Latest Tech Articles


One more upgrade, one that many people didn’t like at the time, was the switch from a 30-pin connector that had been in use since the first iPod to a digital lightning connector. This meant the new iPhone needed a new charger, but it also allowed for faster-charging speeds. Other specifications of the iPhone 5 include:

  • An 8-megapixel camera capable of recording in 1080p (camera stayed the same, but video quality was upgraded from 720p)
  • A 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera (previous only VGA-quality, which is around 0.3 megapixels)
  • An Apple A6, 32-bit, dual-core processor capable of speeds up to 1.3 GHz and 1GB of RAM (up from 1GHz and 512MB RAM)
  • LTE capability (first iPhone to have this)
  • iOS 6
  • 8 hours talk time on 3G (no change)
  • 8 hours of web browsing time on 3G (up from 6)
  • 8 hours of web browsing time on LTE
  • 10 hours of battery life on WiFi (restored to iPhone 4 levels)
  • 10 hours of battery life for videos (no change)
  • 40 hours of battery life for just music (up from 30)

iPhone 5 Countries and Carriers

By now, the iPhone was being sold on countless networks in countless countries. Just over five million iPhones were sold the first weekend the iPhone 5 was available, the most ever for the first weekend, although this number disappointed stockholders who were expecting sales figures to be much higher. The phone launched in the US, Canada, Australia, and most of Europe on September 21, 2012, and by the end of the year, it was available in more than 100 countries around the world.

Generation 7: iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C

iPhone 5S and 5C Release Date: September 20, 2013

The release of the iPhone 5S and 5C marks an interesting moment in iPhone history, largely because it was the first time Apple released two iPhones at one time. Part of the reason for this was because Apple was now up against more competition than ever. Other phone companies, such as Samsung, had begun releasing phones that could do similar things as the iPhone, and to keep up, Apple needed to offer people more options. The differences between the iPhone 5S and 5C demonstrate this new perspective.

iPhone 5C

iPhone 5c

The first thing you notice with the iPhone 5C is color. For the first time ever, Apple offered customers the chance to buy an iPhone in a color other than black or white. The 5C had five color options: green, blue, yellow, pink, and white. The iPhone 5C also had a polycarbonate shell over steel, which made it slightly thicker (.35 inches/88mm thicker than the 4S and, .05 inches/12mm thicker than the 5 or 5S), and it also weighed slightly more (4.66 ounces/132g, .07 oz/2g less)

Beyond these slight changes in appearance, however, the iPhone 5C was really not all that much different than the iPhone 5. It featured a slightly better camera, although the improvements were made with how the phone processes photos instead of megapixels. It had the same processor, and Apple offered a 16 and 32GB version of the iPhone 5C, choosing not to offer the 64GB version that came with the iPhone 5. The 5C did, however, have slightly improved battery life. Official metrics were:

  • 10 hours talk time on 3G (up from 8)
  • 10 hours of web browsing time on 3G (up from 8)
  • 10 hours of web browsing time on LTE (up from 8)
  • 10 hours of battery life on WiFi (no change)
  • 10 hours of battery life for videos (no change)
  • 40 hours of battery life for just music (no change)

iPhone 5S

Of the two phones released in 2013, the iPhone 5S was the one that really stepped things up, although some of the changes were considerably more modest as compared to past upgrades.

iPhone 5S Features and Functionality

The most exciting new feature to come with the iPhone 5S was the introduction of biometrics. This allowed users to scan their fingerprint into the phone and unlock the device doing nothing more than touching their finger to the home button.

Another interesting feature of the iPhone 5S was the ability to record videos in slo-mo. This move was likely in response to the fact that phones had become much more than phones. They were now cameras and so much more, and Apple responded by improving the functions the phone’s camera could perform.

The iPhone 5S also came with Touch 3D, which allowed users to navigate the touchscreen with more than one finger, an addition that allowed people to be able to zoom in on photos or map much more easily.

iPhone 5S Specs

iPhone 5s

At first glance, the iPhone 5S looks to be exactly the same as the iPhone 5. Both phones are the same size, they have identical screens (4-inch/10 cm screen, 1136 x 640 pixels, 326 ppi Retina display), and they weigh exactly the same. However, as mentioned above, the iPhone 5S had several new features, and these were made possible by some rather significant upgrades to what’s inside the iPhone, mostly to its speed, as the designation “S” would indicate. Here are some of the things that were new with the iPhone 5S

  • An 8-megapixel rear camera with an improved aperture and two-tone flash to improve photo quality in low light
  • An Apple A7 dual-core, 64-bit, 1.4 GHz processor with 1GB RAM
  • An M7 Motion Coprocessor which helps the phone process sensory data, such as movement and orientation.
  • iOS 7
  • 10 hours talk time on 3G (up from 8)
  • 10 hours of web browsing time on 3G (up from 8)
  • 10 hours of web browsing time on LTE (up from 8)
  • 10 hours of battery life on WiFi (no change)
  • 10 hours of battery life for videos (no change)
  • 40 hours of battery life for just music (no change)
  • 16GB ($199), 32GB ($299), 64GB($399)

iPhone 5S and 5C Countries and Carriers

When the iPhone 5 was released, sales figures disappointed, despite selling five million phones in the first weekend. Perhaps this slight disappointment in terms of the number of sales was was why Apple decided to come out with two phones at the same time. And if it was, then Apple made the right move, for they sold just over nine million iPhones on the day these phones were released.

Continuing the trend Apple set with its previous iPhones, the iPhones 5S and 5C were first released in the United States, Australia, Canada, and Europe, on September 20, 2013, and by the end of that year, the device was available in countries where the iPhone 5 was sold. However, since this version, as well as the iPhone 5, were LTE devices, the device was not available until the network had been updated.

Generation 8: iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

iPhone 6 Release Date: September 19, 2014

At this point in iPhone history, the yearly release for the new device had become more than tradition. Although some of the initial shock and awe had worn off, people still lined up for the new device, and first weekend sales continued to be through the roof. However, at this point in the history of the iPhone, we can raise an important question: what else can they do?

However, this type of thinking is typical of those who aren’t working on the inside. We look at these devices and consider them magic, whereas the engineers developing them see them as works in progress. Then, when the new phone comes out, we’re once again wowed at their ability to make a product many already considered great even better.

One thing Apple did with this iPhone that had nothing to do with the device itself was release two versions at the same time. The only other time this had been done in iPhone history was with the release of the iPhone 5C and 5S, but these were interim models. The release of the iPhone 6 was the first time it was done with a completely new model.

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Upgrades and Improvements

iphone 6 and 6 plus

The most noticeable difference with the iPhone 6 was the screen. The iPhone 5 gave us a 4-inch screen that was taller and made it easier for the phone to fit in our hands. However, with the iPhone 6, the screen was now 4.7 inches/11.9cm with a resolution of 1334 x 750 pixels, and it continued to have 326 ppi. The iPhone 6 Plus, on the other hand, had an even bigger screen. It measured 5.5 inches/14cm with a resolution of 1920 x 1080, giving it a pixel density of 401 ppi. Apple dubbed this “Retina display HD.” Both screens had a sharper contrast, which made colors more vivid.

Because of their difference in size, the iPhone 6 Plus was slightly heavier than the iPhone 6. It weighed 6.07 ounces/172g. The 6 weighed 4.55 ounces/128g, which was 0.11 ounces, or 3 grams, less than the iPhone 5. However, beyond these superficial differences, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were identical.

Both offered an exciting new feature known as Near Field Communication (NFC). This enabled the iPhone to be used as a payment device, and it gave birth to Apple Pay, a service that allows people to pay for things by simply placing their phone next to a payment terminal. It took some time for this technology to become more mainstream, but part of the reason it did was because of the iPhone 6. Here’s a summary of the improved specs for both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

  • An 8-megapixel camera with increased slo-mo capabilities.
  • An Apple A8, 64 bit, 1.4 GHz processor with 1 GB RAM
  • An M8 Motion Coprocessor
  • iOS 8
  • Bluetooth 4.2

Battery life, however, is slightly different depending on the model. The battery in the iPhone 6 received modest upgrades, whereas the battery in the iPhone 6 Plus got quite a bit better. Here are the details of battery life for the iPhone 6:

  • 14 hours talk time on 3G (up from 10)
  • 10 hours of web browsing time on 3G (no change)
  • 10 hours of web browsing time on LTE (no change)
  • 11 hours of battery life on WiFi (up from 10)
  • 11 hours of battery life for videos (no change)
  • 50 hours of battery life for just music (up from 40)

Here is what the iPhone 6 Plus could do as compared to the iPhone 5S:

  • 24 hours talk time on 3G (up from 10)
  • 12 hours of web browsing time on 3G (no change)
  • 12 hours of web browsing time on LTE (no change)
  • 12 hours of battery life on WiFi (up from 10)
  • 14 hours of battery life for videos (no change)
  • 80 hours of battery life for just music (up from 40)

As for internal storage, there were three versions of each: 16GB ($199/$299), 64GB ($299/$399), and 128GB ($399/$499)

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Sales

To give you an idea of just how much of a tradition the release date of new models had become in iPhone history, consider that Apple sold 10 million phones on the first weekend the phone was available. This beat the record of nine million that had been set with the release of the iPhone 5S and 5C, and it demonstrates just how popular these devices had become.

iPhone 6 Controversy 1: An Unwanted Gift

To coincide with the release of the iPhone 6, Apple struck a deal with U2 to release their new album Songs of Innocence exclusively on iTunes as a gift to all iTunes users. This not only resulted in the largest album release of all time, with over half a BILLION users in the Apple database but also considerable backlash from those who didn’t want it.

The negative press eventually led to Apple releasing a tool that allowed users to remove the album from their purchase history.

iPhone 6 Controversy 2: Bendgate

Within weeks of the launch of the iPhone 6 and the U2 drama, another issue became apparent: the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus would bend if enough pressure was applied.

Apple denied that Bendgate was the result of any design or manufacturing flaw and that only 9 people had experienced any issues under normal use conditions. Although, they did acknowledge that as per their warranty conditions if the iPhone had been subject to normal use conditions and was faulty, it would be replaced.

bendgate
Image Source

Despite their public denials of any design or manufacturing issues, internal Apple documents, unsealed in 2018 by Lucy Koh in the ‘Touch Disease‘ class-action lawsuit, show that Apple was aware that the iPhone 6 was 3.3 times more likely to bend than the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 6 Plus was 7.2 times more likely to bend.

iPhone History: Every generation in order from 2007-2019 8
Image Source

Apple eventually made significant design changes to help prevent this issue with the addition of Series 7000 space-grade aluminum, even though they have never publically acknowledged an issue existed.

Generation 9: iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus

Release Date: September 25, 2015

Like the other interim updates in iPhone history, the release of the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus was designed to offer slight upgrades on the previous version. However, these slight upgrades brought significant improvements to the phone’s performance and user experience. user experience. Like the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the 6S and 6S Plus are almost identical. The only difference is that the iPhone 6S is larger than the iPhone 6.

iPhone 6S and 6S Plus Upgrades and Improvements

iphone 6s and 6s plus

As is typical in iPhone history, the improvements to this version of the phone came mostly on the inside. However, one noticeable difference in terms of features and functionality is that this version of the phone was the first to have 3D touch. This allowed the phone to distinguish between a tap, a light press, and a hard press, which allowed for more features and made the phone easier to use.

On the inside, the upgrades made to this phone were of similar nature as previous updates, meaning it was faster and had better battery life. But the iPhone 6S also had an improved camera, something that hadn’t happened for some time in iPhone history. Just like the first version of the iPhone 6, the Plus was larger, but the iPhone 6S Plus was the same size as the original iPhone 6 Plus.

In terms of specs, here’s what was new with the iPhone 6S:

  • A 12-megapixel camera (up from 8) capable of recording videos in 4K
  • A 5-megapixel front-facing camera
  • An Apple A9, dual-core, 64-bit processor with 2 GB RAM (up from 1 GB)
  • An M9 Motion Coprocessor
  • iOS 9
  • Bluetooth 4.2

Internal storage options and prices remained the same. There were three different options, 16GB ($199/$299), 64GB ($299/$399), and 128GB ($399/$499). In terms of battery life, both versions of the phone received an upgrade. The Plus version naturally has more battery life since the battery is physically larger. Here’s a summary of how long the battery lasts for different tasks on each device:

  • 14/24 hours talk time on 3G
  • 10/12 hours of web browsing time on 3G
  • 10/12 hours of web browsing time on LTE
  • 11/12 hours of battery life on WiFi
  • 11/14 hours of battery life for videos
  • 50/80 hours of battery life for just music

iPhone 6 Sales

Initial sales of the iPhone 6S allowed Apple to once again break its own record in terms of first weekend sales. Reports indicate it sold just over 13 million phones of the first weekend. However, many argue that the iPhone 6S was a turning point in Apple’s history. Explosive growth became harder to achieve after this phone as competition ramped up and as it became more and more difficult for Apple to come up with new “must have” features. Nonetheless, the iPhone remained Apple’s core product, and its subsequent versions would add colorful chapters to the history of the iPhone.

Generation 10: iPhone SE

iPhone SE Release Date March 31, 2016

Image result for iphone se

Just six months after the release of the iPhone 6S, Apple decided to release yet another iPhone. However, this phone was not designed so much as a groundbreaking device but rather as a response to the market. After selling 30 million 4-inch iPhones in 2015, Apple decided to introduce an upgraded version of the iPhone 5 largely because it has learned that some people just prefer smaller, more compact phones. The phone was upgraded as compared to the original iPhone 5, and it was designated SE, which means Special Edition. Here are the specs of the iPhone SE:

  • 4-inch screen
  • 4.0 ounces (second lightest device in iPhone history)
  • A9, dual core, 64-bit, 1.83 GHz processor with 2GB RAM
  • 12-megapixel rear camera
  • 1.2-megapixel front camera
  • iOS 9.3
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • 24 hours talk time on 3G
  • 12 hours of web browsing time on 3G
  • 13 hours of web browsing time on LTE
  • 13 hours of battery life on WiFi
  • 13 hours of battery life for videos
  • 50 hours of battery life for just music

Essentially, the iPhone SE took many of the hardware upgrades that came from the iPhone 6 and 6S and put them into a phone that looked more like the iPhone 5, giving those who prefer smaller phones the best of both worlds.

Generation 11: iPhone 7

Release Date: September 16, 2016

Just about a year after the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple once again unleashed a new set of its signature device. At first glance, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus don’t appear to be all that different from the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but there was one major change to the appearance. Apple got rid of the headphone jack. This was the first time in iPhone history that users would have to connect their headphones via bluetooth, and the company was heavily criticized for this move.

However, most people liked what Apple did with the rest of the phone. For example, this was the first iPhone to be water and dust resistant, and the introduction of iOS 10 made apps such as Maps, Photos, and Music run more smoothly, and it also introduced some new features to Messages, such as special effects for messages.

As for other upgrades, the iPhone 7 received the usual gambit of improvements, such as an improved processor and better battery life. Screen sizes stayed basically the same, as did screen resolution and pixel density. In addition to screen size, the 7 Plus featured two rear cameras to help deliver even better quality images. However, beyond this, the two phones were pretty much the same. Here is a summary of the what was new with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus:

  • 7-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Apple A10 quad-core, 64-bit, 2.3 GHz processor with 2GB RAM (3GB for 7 Plus)
  • M10 Motion Coprocessor
  • Stereo speakers
  • iOS 10
  • 14 (7)/21(7+) hours talk time on 3G
  • 12/13 hours of web browsing time on 3G
  • 12/13 hours of web browsing time on LTE
  • 14/15 hours of battery life on WiFi
  • 13/14 hours of battery life for videos
  • 40/60 hours of battery life for just music
  • 32GB, 128GB, 256GB ($449-659)

One thing to note here is the higher prices, which resulted from the decision by many wireless carriers to stop offering discounts for two-year contracts. Instead, customers had to pay for phones in full, either upfront or via monthly payments, which increased the cost to the customer, although these numbers were close to what the phones cost all throughout iPhone history.

Generation 12: iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

Release Date: September 22, 2017

For the first time in the history of the iPhone, Apple chose not to release an “S” version of their previous iPhone. Instead, they skipped right to the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. However, if you’ve been paying attention to the last few chapters of iPhone history, you’ve likely noticed that the previous versions offered little in terms of radically new features. Instead, Apple chose to simply install faster processors and better cameras, as these were the things the public demanded. With the iPhone 8, things were not much different.

However, Apple did introduce one new thing with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus: inductive charging, which is often referred to more commonly as wireless charging. This feature allows the iPhone to be charged without being plugged in, although you need a special device to make this work.

The only other major novelty to come with the iPhone 8 was an improved processor. This new version of the phone has an Apple A11 quad-core, 64-bit, 2.4 Ghz processor with 2GB RAM (3GB for plus.) The motion coprocessor was improved to an M11, and the camera lens was also upgraded slightly. Furthermore, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus came with the newest version of Apple’s operating system, iOS 12, and there were two choices in terms of internal memory: 64GB and 256 GB. Prices ranged from $599-849

Battery life stayed the same for the most part, but it actually decreased for some tasks Here’s how long the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus could last by activity:

  • 14 (7)/21(7+) hours talk time on 3G
  • 12/13 hours of web browsing time on 3G
  • 12/13 hours of web browsing time on LTE
  • 12/13 hours of battery life on WiFi
  • 13/14 hours of battery life for videos
  • 40/60 hours of battery life for just music

Generation 13: iPhone X

Release Date: November 3, 2017

After some years of releasing iPhones that were more or less the same as the previous year’s version but with slight improvements, Apple once again went for shock value when it released the iPhone X, a moment that was supposed to mark a new beginning in the history of the iPhone. Apple also broke with recent tradition when releasing this phone by only offeing one version of the device.

All versions of the iPhone that have been released since 2017 have been modeled off the iPhone X, and we can expect that to continue in the future. But no one really knows for sure.

iPhone X Features and Functionality

The first thing that jumps out about the iPhone X is that it is all screen. Apple did away with much of the material surrounding the screen, and it put in an OLED display that covers the entire surface of the phone. In doing this, though, Apple made a big change: it got rid of its signature “Home button.” This created a major change in the user experience, as you now need to swipe up with your finger to exit apps and switch between screens. Doing away with the Home button, though, means there is no more Touch ID. But to compensate, the iPhone X has facial recognition, meaning all you need to do is look at your phone to unlock it.

Another new feature of the iPhone X are Aniemojis, which are emojis that move on the screen and that can be created using an avatar based on your own face. While this is hardly a technological breakthrough, it certainly made the iPhone more fun.

iPhone X Specs

Image result for iphone x

Although the iPhone X has a whole host of new internal features, it’s hard to not start with the screen. First, at 5.6 inches/14.2cm, it’s larger than the screen found on any other iPhone. Second, the iPhone X is the first in iPhone history to have an all OLED screen. This allows it to have a screen resolution of 2436 x 1125 pixels, which provides 458 ppi. Apple has dubbed this screen Super Retina.

Other improvements included in the iPhone X are:

  • Two 12-megapixel rear cameras
  • A 7-megapixel TrueDepth front-facing camera which can recognize facial expressions and which powers Face ID
  • Augmented reality capabilities
  • An A11 Bionic processor features 6 cores, 2.4 GHz and 3GB RAM
  • iOS 11
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 21 hours of talk time
  • 12 hours of internet use
  • 13 hours of wireless video playback
  • 64 GB ($999) or 256 GB ($1149)

As you can see, these phones are getting more expensive. The first iPhone, which retailed between $499 and $599, was deemed “too expensive” at the time, but by 2017, Apple was charging $1,000 for their devices, a change that indicates a shift in consumer preferences. In short, phones are no longer just phones. They are mini-computers and people are willing to pay top dollar for them.

iPhone X Reception

While the iPhone X was certainly a big step forward in iPhone history, some were skeptical it was the right move for the company. The device was expensive, and it marked a big change from all the phones it had released up until that point. However, shortly after its release, the iPhone X did indeed become the top-selling iPhone model, and it also helped to boost sales for other iPhones, as people who wanted a new device but who didn’t want to spend the money opted for the iPhone 8 or 8 Plus. Of course, the iPhone X wasn’t without it’s doubters, but it still proved to be a big step forward for a company that has become synonymous with smartphone innovation.

Generation 14.1: iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max

Release Date: September 21, 2018:

Returning to its tradition of releasing an “S” version, the next chapter in the history of the iPhone came with the release of the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Plus. The main goal of this upgrade was to improve upon the iPhone X, a phone which made considerable changes to the look and functionality of the iPhone, while also improving its speed. In the process of doing this, Apple also made the phone almost completely water and dust resistant.

iPhone XS and XS Max Improvements and Upgrades

Image result for iphone xs and xs max

Although Apple put quite a bit of work into making the XS and XS Max seem significantly different than the iPhone X, in reality, the phones are very similar. The X and the XS are almost identical in size, except the XS weighs .01 ounces less. The XS Max, by design, is larger. It has a 6.5 inch/16.5cm screen as compared to 5.8 inches/14.7, and it weighs about an ounce more than the iPhone XS.

Both phones got an upgraded camera, largely with improved HDR and image stabilization technology, and although the front-facing camera remained the same, Apple updated the technology to make sure Face ID works more quickly.

Probably the most significant upgrade is in the processor. Apple improved upon its A11 processor and put an A12 processor with six cores in the iPhone XS and XS Max. It has 4GB of RAM and is capable of speeds up to 2.49 GHz, and it comes preloaded with iOS 12

Both the XS and XS Max are available in 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB models, and prices range from $999-$1349. Lastly, battery life was slightly improved. With the XS and XS Max, you get:

  • 20/25 hours of talk time
  • 12/13 hours of internet use
  • 14/15 hours of wireless video playback
  • 60/65 hours of audio playback

Generation 14.2: iPhone XR

Release Date: October 26, 2018:

The iPhone XR was announced at the same time as the iPhone XS, but it was released after it. It was designed to be a “budget” option of the iPhone XS, although with a starting price tag of $799, it’s tough to justify that moniker. It possesses some of the features of the XS, such as the super-fast A12 Bionic processor, but it is missing some others, such as the OLED, Super Retina display.

iPhone XR Changes

Image result for iphone xr

The iPhone XR’s screen got a significant upgrade from that of the iPhone 8, but it did not quite match that of the iPhone X or XS. For example, instead of using an OLED screen, the iPhone X has a “Liquid LCD”  screen with a resolution of 1792 x 828 pixels. Pixel density is 326 ppi, which is the same as Apple’s original Retina display, although improvements in color and contrast help make the image clearer and more vivid.

The iPhone XR has the same processor as the iPhone XS, the A12 Bionic, meaning it is significantly faster than the iPhone 8. But instead of 4GB of RAM, the iPhone XR only has three. Like the iPhone XS, the XR is also preloaded with iOS 12.

Furthermore, the camera on the XR is not as good as that of the XS, although it’s much better than the iPhone 8. The main difference is that the iPhone XR does not have a telephoto lens, whereas the iPhone XS does.

Battery life on the iPhone XR is similar to that of the XS, and in some areas, it is actually slightly better. Here’s what you get with the iPhone XR:

  • 25 hours of talk time
  • 15 hours of internet use
  • 16 hours of wireless video playback
  • 65 hours of audio playback

Lastly, the iPhone XR is slightly cheaper than the iPhone XS, which was one of the main reasons Apple released this phone. There are three models (64GB, 128GB, and 256 GB), and the lowest option costs $749 whereas the highest prices at $899.

Generation 15.1 iPhone 11

iPhone History: Every generation in order from 2007-2019 9
The iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro were announced on September 10, 2019 and made available for purchase on September 20, 2019.

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Perhaps the most exciting thing to come from the release of the iPhone in 2019 is Apple’s decision to abandon its confusing lettering system to return to good ‘ole numbers. Many likely remember when Apple randomly jumped from the iPhone 8 to the iPhone X, which many assumed was a transition to Roman numerals. But what about the iPhone 9? And are they really going to call the next one iPhone XI??

If you’re sweating, don’t worry. We are too. But thankfully, Apple decided to return back to its traditional numbering system (quietly skipping over number 9) and on September 10, 2019 released the iPhone 11.

However, despite this revolutionary reverse to what it’s always been doing, there aren’t a ton of new features on the phone’s 15th generation model. But there are of course some things to be excited about. 

iPhone 11

iPhone History: Every generation in order from 2007-2019 10

The basic model of 2019’s iPhone is the iPhone 11. It’s the newest model of the iPhone XR, which was designed to be the more budget-friendly option of the iPhone X, and XS.

The look and feel of the phone has not changed much with its update because Apple instead decided to improve on some of the phone’s other features, such as its processor (upgraded to a A13 Bionic) and camera, or cameras. 

As with the iPhone XR, the iPhone 11 has two rear cameras, but the newer version is equipped with a 12-megapixel lens. It also offers the option to take wide-angle and “Ultra wide-angle” photos. Other features include a new night mode to improve low-light photography and 4k video capability. 

Apple has also improved its front-facing camera to allow for slo-mo videos (dubbed “slofies by Apple…), as well as landscape videos and selfies.  

The iPhone 11 also boasts better battery time than its predecessors, with Apple claiming it will last an additional hour.  

The base model of the iPhone 11 has 64GB of internal memory, but it is also available in 128GB and 256GB models. The 64GB phone will be released for $699, whereas the 128GB and 256GB  phones started at $749 respectively. You will be able to choose between six different colors: white, black, green, yellow, purple, and PRODUCT(RED).

The phone was announced on September 10, 2019, made available for pre-order on September 13, 2019, and shipped/sold in stores on September 20, 2019.

Generation 15.2 iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max

iPhone History: Every generation in order from 2007-2019 11

In addition to the iPhone 11, Apple also announced on September 10, 2019, the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. Like the iPhone 11, this iPhone has an updated processor (A13 Bionic) and a longer battery life, although the iPhone Pro and Pro Max are designed to last an additional four hours and five hours more than the iPhone XS and XS Max respectively. 

Like the XS and XS Max, the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max have an OLED Super Retina display whereas the basic iPhone 11 has an LCD Liquid Crystal display that has less resolution. 

However, hands-down the biggest difference between the iPhone Pro/Pro Max and the iPhone 11 is the camera. For the first time in iPhone history, an iPhone will have three cameras on the back of it, one of which is a telephoto lens and one of which is an ultra-wide-angle. 

This just shows how much Apple understands the importance of a good camera in a phone. We live in an Instagram era, folks. 

But this camera is for more than just social media. It’s designed to help people take professional-grade photos an videos with their phones, and specific apps will be released to help people do this. One example presented by Apple is deep fusion, which actually takes nine photos using the three lenses almost at once, and then it processes these images to find the best version of your subject. Pretty cool stuff.

Internally, the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are the same. The only difference is the size. Following the XS and XS Max, The iPhone 11 Pro has a 5.8-inch screen and the Pro Max has a 6.5-inch screen. 

Like the iPhone 11, the base Pro models come with 64GB storage, but you can upgrade to either 256GB or 512MB. The Pro models come in just four colors: Spacy Gray, Midnight Green, Silver, and Gold. 

For the Pro model, the pricing is as follows: 

  • 64GB – $999
  • 256GB – $1149
  • 512GB – $1349

And for the Pro Max model, the prices on release were:

  • 64GB – $1099
  • 256GB – $1249
  • 512GB – $1449

Explore More Tech Articles


The Next Chapter in iPhone History

If history tells us anything, then the next chapter of iPhone history should begin in the fall of 2020. However, we won’t really know for sure what this will mean until it happens.

  • Will Apple simply come out with an updated version of its latest device?
  • Will they break the mold and come out with something truly groundbreaking?
  • Will they finally find a way to prevent people from working out how to unlock their iPhone?
  • Will they once again remove the iOS exploits used to jailbreak their iPhones?
  • Is the 4 lens camera just hype or is it the real deal?

Only time will tell, but the one thing we know for sure is that the history of the iPhone is far from over.

8 thoughts on “iPhone History: Every generation in order from 2007-2019”

  1. My first iphone was iphone 3G and I used it for a long time without any problems but with the generations from generation to generation I had problems and I had to replace it. This issue with the updates still exists and maybe even worse. Although they make some extraordinary software products, nobody understands why it is necessary to create bugs to force you to change your iPhone.

  2. A very useful history. Thank you. Most iPhone histories miss on the key aspects about the iPhone architecture and strategy that eviscerated the carriers. Namely by maintaining control of the OS and agnosticity with respect to internet access (2/3/4G or wifi for any app) they removed the carriers from having any control over what happened above layer 2 in the informational stack. Verizon knew this would happen and believed it’s better 2G and quickly evolving 3G network would allow it to maintain control over its silo. Cingular (AT&T) who had challenges with coverage and throughput of its 2G network had to cave to Jobs’ demands about OS autonomy wrt access.

  3. Visual Voicemail was actually just the concept of having voicemails appear onscreen and accessing them that way, rather that by calling in to your VM service and using the number pad (man that sucked). That, and actual Voicemail-to-text was a feature that had been experimented with before (I believe Google pioneered the VM-to-text feature, actually), thru their now discontinued online phone services – but only more recently added to iOS, iirc. I remember getting VM sent to me as SMS text using this Google feature quite some time before the iPhone or Android devices were even out, as well as ‘visual voicemail’, albeit without a touchscreen (maybe on my Blackberry, or that T-Mobile exclusive phone where the screen flipped up and showed a keyboard… I forget the model.). I’m sure if you dig you can verify almost all of this. I might be a little fuzzy on details, but I’m sure this is a fairly accurate recount of things.

  4. Would I be able to find out who the author is (if there is one) and when this was originally posted. I like the in depth history that this article has so that I can properly give credit and cite

Leave a Comment

43 Shares
Share43
Tweet
Pin
Reddit
Email