Considering how prevalent they have become in our society, it might come as a surprise that iPhone history is rather short. The first version of what has become one of the world’s most popular smartphones launched in 2007. Fast forward 12 years and there have been over ten new versions released, and we can only expect more to come.
However, iPhone history really begins with the iPod, which was first released in 2001 and quickly became one of the most popular MP3 players on the market. Development of the first iPhone began three years before its release, and it was marketed as a wider version of the iPod that made use of cutting edge technology, such as a touch keypad and a mobile web browser.
Shortly after the first iPhone was released, Apple took control of the smartphone market. Samsung and LG have become top competitors, but even today, the iPhone still sits atop the market. Who knows what the next chapter will be in the history of the iPhone, but we can expect it to continue to be a highly popular and extremely relevant device for the foreseeable future.
To see how we got today, let’s do a deep dive into iPhone history, starting with the release of the first iPhone.
First iPhone Release Date: June 29th, 2007: The iPhone 2G
When Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone to the world at the MacWorld convention, he positioned the release as the beginning of a new era. While this was partly just marketing, it’s true that at the time the iPhone was unlike anything else on the market. It most definitely ushered in a new era of mobile communications.
The iPhone 2G was a GSM model and it helped set the tone for all future iPhones. That the iPhone 1 is called the iPhone 2G is slightly confusing, but this is because the iPhone 1 operated on the 2G Edge network that existed at the time. Apple decided to call the first iPhone the iPhone 2G, and they have continued with that numbering ever since.
The first iPhone is also significant because it set the tone for how almost all other iPhones would look. Apple has stayed with the same design since the phone’s first version, only making minimal changes.
The iPhone 2G was released in three separate storage models – 4 GB, 8 GB, and 16 GB. It’s believed that the first iPhone cost Apple around $150 million in research and development, but this quickly paid off, as Apple sold 6 million devices between 2007 and 2013, the year in which the first iPhone was discontinued.
iPhone 3 Release Date: July 11, 2008: iPhone 3G
Just a year after the first one, Apple released its second iPhone, the iPhone 3G, or more simply, iPhone 3.The design for iPhone 3 remained the same, but Apple introduced several new features new features, such as Assisted GPS and a 3G connection. The phone’s operating system, iOS, was given an update to include features such as Push email and turn-by-navigation.
In terms of design, not much changed between the first iPhone and the iPhone 3. However, perhaps the most exciting development to come from the release of the iPhone 3 was the intoduction of the app store. The iPhone 3 was the first iPhone that could access the new Apple App Store, where users could find third-party apps to help them in their day to day use of the iPhone. Previously, users had to rely strictly on iTunes.
June 19, 2009: iPhone 3GS
The iPhone 3GS was the first iPhone to receive an interim update. It was denoted by the S at the end of the name, a trend Apple continues to use untuil this day. The main difference between this phone and the original iPhone 3 is a faster processor. Apple recognized how much people loved using these devices to take photos, communicate, and browse the internet, so it created a device better able to handle these tasks. Furthermore, this version of the iPhone 3 had a much higher resolution camera on it that could capture 480p video, which was the highest quality available at the time. Also, this version of the iPhone came equipped with voice control capabilities.
iPhone 4 Release Date: June 24, 2010
After the huge success of the first three iPhones, Apple decided to break the mold with their next release and create something truly different. Again, the design remained more or less the same, but the iPhone 4 had a brand new, high-resolution display, known as Retina, that was the first of its kind in the smartphone world. Additionally, the iPhone 4 came equipped with a brand new 5 megapixel camera on the front and back of the device, which made video calling possible for the first time.
Other changes included replacing the rounded rear panel with a flat one, and the iPhone 4 was also dubbed to be the thinnest smartphone in the way. The phone was also given a stainless steel frame and a brand new, all-singing, all-dancing A4 processor, designed to make the phone faster and more capabble of handling multitasking.
October 14, 2011: iPhone 4S
Apple changed the iPhone’s release cycle with the iPhone 4S by moving it to the fall rather than summer months. Also an interim update, the iPhone 4s proved to be the best version of the phone that Apple had ever released. It got a camera upgrade, the iPhone 4s includedhas an 8-megapixel iSight camera that is still used today, and this version of the phone also had the avbility to record video at 1080p.
It also got a brand new processor, the A5 dual-core chip, Siri was introduced to the world for the first time. Siri is Apple’s proprietary intelligent voice assistant that changed the way we used our iPhones. Other upgrades were the introduction of iCloud as well as iMessage, and Apple added a notification center and reminders, as well as a Twitter inegration, to the iPhone 4S
However, the release of the iPhone 4S came at a sad time in the Apple community. It was released just nine days after Steve Jobs lost his battle with pancreatic cancer and passed away.
iPhone 5 Release Date: September 21, 2012
When the iPhone 5 was released, it broke all sales records to date, marking a new era in the history of the iPhone. And no wonder. Once again Apple upped the ante by puting in a dual-core A6 chip in it, making the iPhone 5 the fastest iPhone to date. The display grew to 4” and the 30-pin connector that they had always used was eliminaed and replaced with a digital lightning connector.
Another big change that came with the iPhone 5 was the introduction of an alluminum frame, which made this the lightest version of the iPhone yet. It was also the very first iPhone to include LTE support, allowing users to take advantage of much faster browsing speed.
September 20th 2013: iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C
For the first time ever, Apple released 2 iPhones in one hit. The iPhone 5C was an upgraded version of the iPhone 5 that included a polycarbonate shell. For the first time ever, customers could choose between five different colors. Up until this point in iPhone history, the only choices were white or black. However, beyond this, there weren’t many differences between the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5C.
The iPhone 5S, on the other hand, was a work of art, and it ushered in an important new chapter of iPhone history. Not only did it contain a revolutionary new processor, the A7 64-bit – which was twice as fast as the processor in the iPhone 5 – but it also contained another processor, the M7 Motion Control coprocessor, which allowed the iPhone to serve as a compass and gyroscope, and it also made it much faster. The iPhone 5S also came with Touch 3D, which allowed users to swipe the touchscreen with more than one finger, and it also included a fingerprint sensor embedded in the Home button, allowing users to unlock the phone by simply pressing a button.
The camera was also improved. Apple gave it a bigger aperture and a dual LED flash, and the iPhone 5S also came with a new operating system, iOS 7. When the iPhone 5S was released, the iPhone 5 was discontinued, only a year after it first hit the market.
iPhone 6 Release Date: September 19, 2014
For the second time in iPhone history, two devices were launched at the same time. As you can see, updates have become more frequent, with a new version of the iPhone coming out every year. The main focus of this update was to improve the display. The new screen had dual-domain pixels which allowed for wider and better viewing angles, and the phone was backed up with Apple’s A8 64-bit chipsets and a new M8 motion coprocessor, making this model the fastest and most advanced in iPhone history.
Both phones feature built-in NFC-functionality, allowing users to make payments with their iPhone across the United States through Apple’s newly released payment system Apple Pay. Furthermore, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were built with better batteries that could last longer, and the screen was expanded as well. The main difference between the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus was size. The 6 Plus was basically a larger version of the 6.
September 25, 2015: iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus
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. These phones included an upgraded A9 64-bit processor and M9 motion coprocessor, making these devices the fastest iPhone’s in history
The iPhone 6S, though, came with an important new feature: 3D Touch. The introduction of this technology allowed the phone’s screen to distinguish between a tap, a light press, and a hard press, opening up a whole new spectrum of possibilities for user interaction. Camera quality was also upgraded, a trend throughout the history of the iPhone. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, for we all know how much people love taking photos on their phones.
March 31, 2016: iPhone SE
After the immense popularty of the iPhone 5S, Apple decided to release an upgraded version of it in 2016 known as the iPhone SE. It was a smaller version of the iPhone 6, but it had an upgraded processor and an improved and high definition camera. This helped make this device one of the most popular in iPhone history. In fact, it became so popular thsat APple released it again in 2017. The only major differnece was that the 2017 version had more storage capability.
iPhone 7 Release Date: September 16, 2016: iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
Although the iPhone 7 boasted a better processor, additional color options, water and dust resistance, and the Apple A10 quad-core processor, which made this the fastest phone in iPhone history, Apple was heavily criticized for removing the headphone jack. Most people felt this move was too much for people. By this point, phones from other companies, such as Samsung, had become quite popular as well, meaning Apple had more competition than ever.
iPhone 8 Release Date: September 22, 2017: iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus featured wireless charging, a faster processor and improved camera and displays. But other than that, it did not have many new features as compared to the iPhone 7.
iPhone X Release Date: November 3, 2017: iPhone X
The release of the iPhone X certainly marked the beginning of a new chapter in iPhone history. Showcased as the future of phones, Apple went all out with the iPhone X. It put in an OLED screen technology, which put the colors and display quality on a whole new level. This phone is considered to have the highest quality visual displays to date.
With the iPhone X, Apple also introduced Face ID, which uses facial recognition technology to scan the user’s face andunlock the phone.
September 21, 2018: iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max
The iPhone XS and XS Max took everything people love about the iPhone X and improved upon it. For example, Apple installed its A12 Bionic processor and the first 7-nanometer chip to be available on the market. It has six cores but is still extremely small, ushering in a whole new level of performance. Furthermore, lab tests reveal the XS to be extremely water resistant, subjected to chlorinated water, salt water, tea, wine, beer, and various fruit juices. The only difference between the Xs and the XS Max is that the XS Max is larger.
October 26, 2018: iPhone XR
With the iPhone XR, Apple took resolution display further than it ever had in the history of the iPhone. The phone has a 6.1 inch ‘liquid retina’ LCD display for stunning colors. However, unlike the XS, the XR does not have an OLED screen, but this does not take away from the industry-leading display of the iPhone XR., claimed by Apple to be the “most advanced and color accurate in the industry”.
Not to be confused with it’s XS counterparts, the XR does not feature an OLED screen. Nevertheless, it’s visuals are just as stunning.
The Next Chapter in iPhone History
If history tells us anything, then the next chapter of iPhone history should begin in the fall of 2019. However, we won’t really know for sure what this will mean. It’s hard to imagine Apple being able to come up with something completely new, and it’s fair to ask if that’s even a good idea. People are upgrading phones less often, and new versions as always more expensive. However, the history of the iPhone is riddled with surprises, so who knows what’s to come.
Other recent developments: Jailbreaking and Unlocking
Whilst Apple is still working on developing newer, faster, and more innovative technology, people outside of Apple have been slowly tinkering with ways to modify and upgrade the iPhone in ways that Apple doesn’t quite approve of…
Jailbreaking, the process of hacking into the iPhones operating system for the purpose of being able to adjust the way the iPhone operates, first hit the scene only a few short months after the first iPhone was released. Frustrated hackers wanted to be able to use a whole range of tools that Apple deemed unsatisfactory for the iPhone. After only a little bit of tweaking and testing, teams such as Evasi0n were able to break into the operating system and make the adjustments they wanted.
The battle between hackers and Apple’s programmers has continued with each new release of the iPhone operating system and will continue as long as Apple attempts to control what people can and can’t do on their devices.
Unlocking, the process of removing carrier restrictions from your iPhone, is also another recent development in the iPhone’s history. With the sharp rise in popularity in smartphones, phone service providers became increasingly insistent on making sure their customers didn’t leave them once they had their iPhone and move to another carrier.
To prevent this from happening, iPhones were ‘locked’ to each carrier so that wandering customers couldn’t have the freedom they wanted. This restriction spawned an entire industry built around helping people get past these restrictions. Guides on how to unlock your iPhone started popping up all over the internet and people started moving freely between carriers.
Recent laws introduced in America as part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act reforms have made unlocking illegal but that hasn’t slowed the tide of people leaving their carriers for better deals.
So. What’s next? There will be another iPhone this year, maybe 2 if rumors are correct. The rumor mill is spilling over with news of Apple releasing iPhones with larger screens, perhaps 4.7”, although some say 5”.
All we can do is wait and see because Apple sure isn’t giving away any hints.