Apple’s iPhone revolutionized the mobile phone industry when it was first introduced back on January 9, 2007. Since then, the iPhone has grown thinner, faster, and lighter than anyone (even Steve Jobs) could have envisioned back then. Now, as the iPhone turns 7, we take a look back at every single iPhone model and their key features to see how we arrived at Apple’s flagship iPhone 5s.
When Steve Jobs took the stage and repeated “A phone, an iPod, and an Internet communicator” multiple times, I knew something special was to come, and the company didn’t disappoint. On January 9, 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone to the world and turned the mobile phone industry on its head. I, along with many others, like to think Apple truly introduced the first smartphone as many others at the time weren’t considered “smart” by today’s standards. The original iPhone revolutionized how screen technology could function on a phone, changed the music player market, and laid the groundwork for both Apple and its competitors to create the smartphones we see in the market today.
The iPhone 3G was a massive kick in the pants to companies like Nokia that were slow to catch up with the smartphone game. In 2008, Apple introduced the App Store alongside the new, all-plastic iPhone 3G. Suddenly, there was a massive world of applications available to the iPhone, and developers had access to an SDK that allowed them to contribute to the expansion of the App Store. Not only did customers have a new design and an App Store like none other, they were now able to purchase the iPhone under subsidized pricing. Apple was offering an affordable iPhone with insanely powerful features unlike anything seen in the year 2008.
Alas, the beginning of the S-series iPhones. Apple’s iPhone 3Gs was the first S-series model of many to come, and it finally brought something to the smartphone that the company brags about to this day: speed. Apple increased the speed of the iPhone, bringing the first major bump up since they introduced the original iPhone. With the 3Gs also came the ability to record videos, something that wasn’t available in the first two models. Video recording was the first step that Apple took in improving the camera of the iPhone.
The iPhone 4 was what Apple called “the biggest leap since the original iPhone,” and they were right. The iPhone 4 introduced a radical new design to the iPhone, bringing a flat, all-glass exterior with a striking metal band around the outer edge of the device. Unfortunately, the device was leaked prior to the iPhone event, but that didn’t mean that Apple wasn’t going to experience a successful launch. The iPhone 4, along with its new design and Retina display, also brought many camera improvements to the iPhone line. The iPhone 4 introduced a LED flash, a 5 megapixel sensor with a back-illuminated sensor (BSI), as well as Auto focus. The 4 was also the first iPhone to feature an A-series chip with the A4 system on a chip.
Once again, Apple opted for speed in the S-model and introduced the A5 chip which is still being used in some iOS devices today, including the first generation iPad mini, iPhone 4s, and the fifth-gen iPod touch. Apple utilized the same design as the iPhone 4 but added in Siri, a digital voice assistant that could do a number of different tasks on the iPhone such as searching the web and writing/reading text messages. The 4s was not only the most advanced iPhone at the time, but it made the line into a professional photographer’s favorite tool. A lot of pro photographers began using the 4s to take images of their subjects because of the 8 MP iSight camera.
The iPhone 5 was a device that a lot of people were waiting for, especially because there were so many iPhone 4 users waiting for a major upgrade. The iPhone 5 introduced a 4″ screen (the first large screen on an iPhone) and a Lightning connector, and brought back a metal design to the iPhone. With the 5, Apple made the iPhone amazingly thin, created an A6 chip, and even added a FaceTime HD camera for a high quality front-facing camera.
In the iPhone 5, you could truly see the advancements of every single iPhone model and some of the designs from previous generations. It was the first iPhone to borrow design cues such as the small strips of glass, the anodized aluminum, and the metal band around the edge. The 5 also carried the same 8 MP camera, but enhanced the aperture for better image-taking.
Finally, we arrive at Apple’s current iPhone lineup and see that Apple really did come very far in seven years.
The iPhone 5s is the culmination of all of the features the company has ever introduced in the iPhone line: the same all-encompassing design of the iPhone 5, Touch ID, the A7 chip with the M7 coprocessor, an even better camera for low-light images and TruTone flash, and iOS 7, which is the first major redesign of Apple’s mobile software.
Alongside the iPhone 5s intro in 2013, Apple introduced a new line called the iPhone 5c; the first time that Apple has ever introduced two iPhones in one launch. Despite the fact that the iPhone 5c has the same internals as the iPhone 5, albeit a slightly larger battery, the 5c brings back the all-plastic design from the iPhone 3G and 3GS. This time, however, it is really all-plastic, down to the volume and power buttons. The 5c is powered by Apple’s A6 chip and also ships with the colorful iOS 7.