The Evolution of iPhones
The history of iPhones is one of the great tech success stories. Were it not for Steve Jobs and the first humble iPhone, the smartphone industry simply wouldn’t be the same. The iPhone made smartphones small enough and cheap enough that they were accessible by anyone. In contrast, the very first cell phone, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x, came out in 1983. Nicknamed “the Brick,” it weighed 2lbs, cost $3995, and boasted a battery that allowed users to talk for thirty minutes. We owe Apple a debt of gratitude, is what we’re saying.
When Did the First iPhone Come Out?
The first iPhone was announced by Apple CEO Steve Jobs on January 9, 2007, and hit the market in June of that year. With a 3.5-inch screen, a 2-megapixel camera, and the ability to handle 128MB of memory, the first iPhone sounds laughably limited in power and features, but it sparked a revolution of sorts, and led directly to the powerful iPhone models of today.
An iPhone History Timeline
Interested in the history of iPhone models? Here’s an iPhone history timeline from 2007 to the present, complete with the advances that made each iteration of the iPhone more advanced (and more desirable) than its predecessors.
The original iPhone made a splash in 2007 – a phone with access to the internet on a 3.5-inch screen! Detractors scoffed at the starting price of $499 for the 4GB model, arguing that the phones were too expensive to succeed. Critics, as it turns out, can be really, really wrong.
On June 9, 2008, the iPhone 3G was announced. The phone, which hit the stores on July 11 of the same year, could connect to 3G networks, so internet speeds improved immensely. The phone had more storage, starting at 8GB, and came with built-in GPS and an app store. The iPhone 3G was also cheaper than the iPhone, starting at $199.
2008 saw the unveiling of the 3GS on June 8th, and it’s market debut on June 19th, beginning Apple’s tradition of announcing new iPhone models mere weeks or even days before they become available. The first phone in the history of the iPhone to offer a 32GB model, the 3GS upgraded the camera to 3MP, added video recording, and introduced voice control.
Announced on June 7, 2010, and released on June 24, 2010, the iPhone 4 is an important entry in the iPhone history timeline, as it’s the first of the iPhone models to include FaceTime chat. It was also the first model to include a front-facing camera, inadvertently creating the selfie.
The iPhone 4S was released on October 14, 2011, and was the first iPhone to offer a 64GB model. A new dual-core processor ensured more power than the iPhone 4, the camera was now a respectable 8MP, and Apple introduced the world to Siri. 2011 was also the year Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO of Apple due to health problems. He would die of pancreatic cancer on October 5, 2011, the day after new CEO Tim Cook announced the 4S.
Released on Sept 21, 2012, the iPhone 5 was slimmer and faster than earlier iPhone models, with a 4-inch screen. The iPhone 5 was the first model in the history of the iPhone to feature LTE connectivity.
iPhone 5S and 5C
Announced on Sept 10, 2013, and available ten days later, the iPhone 5S and the less expensive 5C model were the first iPhone models to include Touch ID. Slow-motion video capture was now possible, and the 5C came with a plastic shell to keep costs down.
iPhone 6 and 6 Plus
Released on Sept 12, 2014, only three days after their launch announcements, the iPhone 6 and 6S boasted new A8 processors and were the first models in the iPhone history timeline to offer Apple Pay.
iPhone 6S and 6S Plus
The two 2015 iPhone models improved the rear camera to 12MP, making it possible to shoot 4K video. The 5MP front camera made HD FaceTime possible, and 3D touch was introduced. In addition, 2015 saw the launch of the iPhone SE, with the same specs as the 6S in a smaller phone without 3D touch.
iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
2016 saw some controversy, as Apply chose to remove the audio jack from the iPhone7 and 7 Plus, requiring phone owners to use Apple earbuds or buy an adapter to use with their old headphones. While this decision caused the company some blowback, consumers enjoyed the phone’s new dual-camera setup and faster A10 Fusion quad-core processor.
iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
The first iPhone models to offer wireless charging, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus hit the market in September 2017. With redesigned speakers for deeper bass and greater volume, the phones were also the first to be optimized for augmented reality. The new glass and aluminum case was tougher than that used by earlier models.
2017 was the tenth anniversary of the iPhone. In honor of this milestone, Apple announced the iPhone X at the same time as the iPhone 8. The iPhone X’s 5.8-inch OLED screen supported Dolby Vision and HDR 10, while the A11 Bionic chip made Facial ID possible. The phone’s cameras saw an upgrade, with a 7MP front camera and a dual 12MP rear camera with a telephoto lens.
iPhone XS and XS Max
September of 2018 saw the release of the iPhone XS and XS Max, with their 5.8 and 6.5-inch screens. The 2018 iPhone models include four built-in microphones to record stereo sound, dual SIM support, and a longer-lasting battery than the iPhone X.
Also released in October of 2018, the iPhone XR came with a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina display and a water-resistant casing. Haptic touch allows users to open the camera and flashlight with a gesture, and the A12 chop[ was the first 7-nanometer chip ever used in a smartphone.
The iPhone 11
The first of three 2019 iPhone models, the iPhone 11 features an A13 Bionic processor, a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina HD display, and a stronger glass casing. The rear-facing dual camera offers a 12MP ultrawide and wide lens, while the 12MP front camera allows for slow-motion selfies (or slofies, as Apple calls them).
The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max
Also released in 2019, the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max come with A13 chips and a triple rear camera, as well as all the features of the iPhone 11. Both iPhone models come with a fast charger and boast 5.8 and 6.5-inch Super XDR displays, respectively.
The Next Step in the History of the iPhone
While facing stiff competition from Samsung Galaxy, iPhones remains some of the best smartphones on the market. If you’re upgrading your phone and unsure of which to choose, check out our iPhone and Samsung Galaxy Comparison Chart. As for the next step in the iPhone history timeline, we’ll just have to wait for the next launch announcement to see what the future holds.