The iPhone is one of the world’s most iconic devices and, in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t very old. But when did it begin? Where did the idea come from?
The very first iPhone was unveiled in January 2007 at the MacWorld convention. Steve Jobs revealed what Apple had been developing for nearly 3 years and, for its time, it represented the cutting edge of technology.
The device was introduced as an iPod with a wider screen, controlled by touch instead of physical buttons. In short, it was a mobile phone and a device to communicate with the internet. At the time, Jobs told the audience that this device would “reinvent the phone”.
While revealing the design of this new device, Jobs took time out to make fun of the current smartphones on the market, ones that relied on a physical keyboard and were unwieldy to use. He showed off how simple it was to control a phone using simple touch gestures on a screen and the audience was hooked.
11 years on, from that unveiling, the iPhone is still top of the hill. At one time, market shares did start to decline, especially as they were under constant attack from cheaper smartphones, such as Samsung and LG. However, their last couple of devices have seen that share shoot straight back up, allowing Apple to keep on polishing their crown.
So, to commemorate 11 years of the iPhone we’re going to look at each different iteration that Apple released:
June 29th, 2007: The iPhone 2G – The First iPhone was released
The iPhone 2G was a GSM model and dictated the future of the form factor for the iPhone. Since its release, Apple has stayed with the same form, only making minimal changes. When it was released, it earned the nickname, the “Jesus Phone” because people were so amazed at its capabilities.
The iPhone 2G was released in 3 separate storage models – 4 GB, 8 GB and 16 GB.
July 11th, 2008: iPhone 3G
Following on just a year after the first one, Apple released their second iPhone. They introduced a couple of new features, like Assisted GPS and a 3G connection. The iOS was given an update and now included features such as Push email and turn-by-navigation. This was the first iPhone to be accompanied by the revolutionary new Apple App store, where users could find third-party apps to help them in their day to day use of the iPhone.
June 19th, 2009: iPhone 3GS
The iPhone 3GS was the first iPhone to receive an interim update, denoted by the S. Apple produced an upgraded 3G with a faster processor. It had a much higher resolution camera on it that could capture an astonishing (for its time) 480p video and support was included for voice controls.
June 24th, 2010: iPhone 4
Apple broke the mould with the iPhone 4, making it the very first to have an incredibly high-resolution display, known as Retina. As well as that, they gave the iPhone camera an update, making it 5 megapixels, and they added in a front camera for video calling.
This was the first iPhone to receive a design change, the rounded rear panel replaced with a flat one, giving the iPhone the honour of being classed as the thinnest smartphone in the world. The phone was given a stainless steel frame and a brand new, all-singing, all dancing A4 processor, designed to help with the multitasking functions.
October 14th, 2011: iPhone 4S
Apple changed their release cycle with the iPhone 4S, moving it to the fall rather than summer months. The iPhone 4s proved to be the best that Apple had ever released. It got a camera upgrade, to the 8-megapixel iSight camera that we know and love today, with the ability to record video at 1080p.
It got a brand new processor, the A5 dual-core chip and it got Siri. Siri is Apple’s very own intelligent voice assistant that changed the way we used our iPhones. With the iPhone 4S we got access to iCloud and iMessage. We got a notification centre and reminders and Apple even gave is Twitter integration.
The iPhone 4S was released just 9 days after the death of Steve Jobs after he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.
September 21st 2012: iPhone 5
When the iPhone 5 was released, it broke all sales records to date. And no wonder. It had a dual-core A6 chip in it. The display grew to 4” and the 30-pin connector that they had always used was gone, replaced with a digital lightning connector.
The iPhone 5 got an aluminium frame instead of stainless steel, making it lighter than ever before. It was also the very first iPhone to include LTE support.
September 20th 2013: iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C
For the first time ever, Apple released 2 iPhones in one hit. The iPhone 5C is an upgraded version of the iPhone 5 with a polycarbonate shell in 5 different colours. The iPhone 5S was a work of art, the new flagship for Apple.
Not only did it contain a revolutionary new processor, the A7 64-bit – twice as fast as the iPhone 5 – it also contained another processor, the M7 Motion Control coprocessor. It had Touch D, a fingerprint sensor embedded in the Home button.
The camera was given a bigger aperture and a dual LED flash and the iPhone 5S got the privilege of being the first to run on the all-new iOS 7 firmware. At the time of release, the iPhone 5 was discontinued, a little more than a year after release.
September 19, 2014: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
Apple once again launches two iPhones, in just one year. Display quality is the focus here, with the display packing dual-domain pixels which allows for wider and better viewing angles, backed up with Apple’s A8 64-bit chipsets and a new M8 motion coprocessor, for even better performance than its predecessors.
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, with the iPhone 6 Plus coming out on top in battery life, screen size and resolution.
September 25, 2015: iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus
The iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus pick up where their older counterparts left off in 2014, with an upgraded A9 64-bit processor and M9 motion coprocessor for incredible results.
The iPhone 6S also brings with it a new feature: 3D Touch. This means that the display on the iPhone 6s can distinguish between a tap, a light press, and a hard press, opening up a whole new spectrum of possibilities for user interaction. Camera quality has also been upgraded from it’s older counterpart.
March 31, 2016: iPhone SE
A crowd favourite and almost identical replacement to the iPhone 5S. It’s small size, upgraded processor, and high definition camera topped the popularity charts and had such large demand that Apple re-released it again on March 24, 2017, with bigger storage capabilities.
September 16, 2016: iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
The year of disappointment, Apple garnered controversy for the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, with critics stating that such a drastic change required “courage”.
On the positive spectrum, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus included additional colour options (Matte and Jet Black), water and dust resistance, and the Apple A10 quad-core chip for maximum processing power.
September 22, 2017: iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus bring with them the option of wireless charging, a faster processor and improved camera and displays.
There was also a small percentage of iPhone 8 users experiencing problems such as frozen screens and unresponsiveness. These unfortunate users were compensated with a free replacement. This issue was not found on the iPhone 8 Plus.
November 3, 2017: iPhone X
Showcased as the future of phones, Apple went all out with the iPhone X. Featuring OLED screen technology, the colours and display that user’s experience are on a whole new level, and regarded as the highest quality visual displays to date.
Face ID is also a brand new feature, utilizing facial recognition technology to scan the user’s face to unlock the phone; providing a fresh alternative to the standard password authentication method we’ve been accustomed to.
September 21, 2018: iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max
Using what was perfected and building upon it, the iPhone XS and XS Max are everything people love about the iPhone X with a touch of improvements.
Apple’s A12 Bionic processor is the spotlight here and is the first 7-nanometer chip to be available on the market, boasting six cores while being extremely small, to take performance to a whole new level.
Lab tests reveal the XS to be extremely water resistant, subjected to chlorinated water, salt water, tea, wine, beer, and various fruit juices.
Can’t decide on an XS or XS Max? The only difference is that the XS Max is larger in size.
October 26, 2018: iPhone XR
Taking resolution display even further, the iPhone XR features a 6.1 inch ‘liquid retina’ LCD display for stunning colour visuals, claimed by Apple to be the “most advanced and colour 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.
Authors Note (Summary):
The XS and XS Max have an optical zoom feature, feature OLED screen technology, and can withstand even the toughest beverages.
The XR does not have optical zoom, uses an LCD display, and is probably not going to survive being dunked in your favourite summertime drink.
Other recent developments: Jailbreaking and Unlocking
Whilst Apple is still working on developing newer, faster, and more innovative technology, people outside 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.