iPhone history in brief: Ahead of iPhone 15 launch, check out the changes since 2007

In 2007, Apple cofounder and then-CEO Steve Jobs introduced the first-ever iPhone to the world. It was described as a single device that houses the iPod, an internet communicator, and a mobile phone. Today, it is much more than that. It is a powerful computer that can handle high graphics gaming, and video streaming, make payments, detect if your car underwent a crash, and much more. But how did it evolve into this stunning piece of technology that still continues to innovate and stand out from its competitors? Ahead of the iPhone 15 launch, we take a look at the entire history of the iPhone.

The original iPhone

Launched during the Apple event after the iconic “One More Thing” phrase that has come to mark Apple events, the original iPhone was a revelation. The 2007 iPhone introduced one big change when compared to the regular “smartphones” of the era – a large touchscreen interface, that could be controlled without a Stylus. It also came without the keypad and just a single Home Button on the front.

It also brought the concept of mobile apps. However, it was not till the iPhone 3G that the App Store came to the iPhone. It had a single rear camera on the device and a 1400mAh battery with a 30-pin charging port, which became iconic at the time.

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The smartphone may not feel like much in today’s time, but back in the day, it was easily the most attention-grabbing tech product available. But the next year, Apple delivered some features that still continue to be a big part of the modern iPhone.

iPhone 3G

Even though the original iPhone was innovative, it was not perfect. It was an entirely new product-category in itself and Jobs knew there was a big scope for improvement. Jobs’ answer to the problem was 3G. It offered 2-3 times the speed compared to EDGE and it was merciful on the battery life. And Apple decided to make 3G the heart of the second-generation iPhone. So much so that they skipped the number two and named the product iPhone 3G.

But probably the most historic feature that the iPhone 3G received was the App Store. The original iPhone was launched without any third-party apps. But iPhone 3G changed the game with Apple’s own third-party application platform which would go on to become the single biggest rival of Google’s Android-based Play Store. It also got a price drop from $399 for the original iPhone to $199 for the iPhone 3G.

As a result, it became extremely popular and sold one million units in just the first weekend compared to 74 days for the first-generation iPhone.

iPhone 3GS

The iPhone 3GS improved on the optimization of apps and focused on making the phone smarter. It ran iPhone 3.0 operating system (an early version of iOS). Apple billed it as a device that was twice as fast as its predecessor. The base variant saw another price drop and was available for just $99.

iPhone 4

In June 2010, the fourth generation of the iPhone, the iPhone 4 came out. It came with two new features that will soon become a mainstay on all iPhones. The first was a high-resolution retina display and the second was the FaceTime video chat. Yes, the same FaceTime, which is a staple among iPhone users today. 

iPhone 4S

It was the last iPhone to be unveiled by Jobs, as he had to step down shortly after due to health reasons. Its biggest highlight was a new dual-core processor which was the same that was used in iPad 2. It was also the first time an iPhone was launched in a 64GB variant with a price tag of $399. The price of the base variant remained unchanged.

iPhone 5

The first iPhone to be launched by the new Apple CEO Tim Cook came in September 2012. This was the first iPhone to carry a large 4-inch display, and claimed to be slimmer and faster than its predecessor. Touting the phone, Cook said, “This is the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since the [original] iPhone”. The prices were again unchanged.

iPhone 5S/5C

The year 2013 was a massive one for Apple. This was the first time two different iPhone models were launched — a less expensive iPhone 5C starting at $99 for 16GB variant, and a more expensive iPhone 5S starting at $199 for 16GB variant.

The iPhone 5S/5C also changed the way people unlocked their devices with its introduction of the Touch ID. Preferring to stick to the iPhone 5 design, the most exciting thing the iPhone 5s did was place a fingerprint scanner (Touch ID) on the home button. Apple made it very easy for users to access the phone by simply using their finger impressions, thus increasing security and reducing unauthorized and unwanted access.

iPhone 5s also introduced the A7 chip with 64-bit architecture, the first 64-bit processor to be used on a smartphone, along with the M7 motion coprocessor. It also came with iOS 7 giving the iPhone a flatter, cleaner, and colourful look. The 5s also became the first iPhone to support six iOS updates- from iOS 7 to iOS 12.

iPhone 6/6 Plus

Launched in 2014, Apple decided to give consumers an even larger display and offered a 4.7-inch display on the iPhone 6 and a 5.5-inch display for the iPhone 6 Plus. Apple also recrafted the iPhone 6 while bringing back the curviness of the earlier generations, and ditching the squared-off edges that were there starting with the iPhone 4.

But perhaps the biggest addition was the arrival of NFC technology in iPhones. NFC, which stands for Near Field Communications, is a wireless communication technology that worked as Apple’s new mobile wallet service Apple Pay. Now iPhone owners could make payments directly through their smartphones. The iPhone 6 got a starting price of $199, whereas the iPhone 6 Plus came at $299.

iPhone 6S/6S Plus

In 2015, Apple introduced another revolutionary feature, 3D touch, with these two new iPhones, that were offered as upgrades to the iPhone 6 series. It also received an upgraded 12MP camera that could shoot videos in up to 4K resolution. On the front, it also has a 5MP camera for selfies. The smartphone was equipped with the A9 chip for faster performance.

iPhone 7/7 Plus

It was the year Apple decided to take away the 3.5mm headphone jack, a trend that will soon be followed by most brands in coming years. The iPhone 7 Plus also became the first iPhone to feature dual cameras with 12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras. The smartphone offered hardware-based software photography and a Live Photos feature. iPhone 7 Plus also offered 4K video recording at 30 frames per second.

iPhone 7 Plus was powered by Apple’s new four-core A10 Fusion chip which offered twice as fast performance compared to the iPhone 6 with improved battery life. It was also the first iPhone to offer water and dust resistance.

iPhone 8/8 Plus

The iPhone 8 series was not as much about groundbreaking features as it was about refinement. Launched in 2017, it featured a glass and aluminium design, a new Retina HD display, A11 Bionic chipset, as well as wireless charging. The A11 Bionic featured a six-core CPU. The device also improved capabilities for 4K video recording.

iPhone X

Commemorating one decade since the original iPhone, Apple used the classic phrase, ‘One More Thing’, to unveil the iPhone X after launching the iPhone 8 series. This was the boldest new iPhone we had seen in years and it changed the game of the smartphone industry.

The iPhone X shocked and awed for multiple reasons. The biggest one was its price – starting at $999 for the base 64GB variant, the iPhone X was Apple’s most expensive iPhone to date.

The iPhone X ditched the fat bezels of the iPhone 8, kicked out the home button, and adopted extremely slim display bezels of the time. It also brought the infamous notch and it was more than just a fashion statement – it hid the TrueDepth camera system that enabled a new generation of verification system – Face ID. Face ID made the facial biometric system an easier concept to grasp on smartphones. With all its array of sensors, your iPhone simply scanned your face to unlock itself.

The iPhone X also had another first to its name – it sold only for a year! In 2018 when Apple announced the improved iPhone Xs generation, it discontinued the iPhone X.

iPhone XR/XS/XS Max

Launched in 2018, it featured improved water resistance and a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina display. It also was equipped with A12 Bionic chipset, Apple’s first 7-nanometer chipset in a smartphone. The TrueDepth camera also got a bunch of improvements and had support for Memoji. The second-generation Neural chip also allowed for faster face tracking and better low-light photography.

iPhone 11

In 2019, Apple launched the first of its modern iPhone, a design that still continues to be the basis for iPhones today. It also brought forth the three models, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max. With the new A13 Bionic chipset and an improved Liquid Retina display, the iPhone 11. The camera system also offered a new Night Mode and the more efficient chipset provided longer battery life.

iPhone 12

Launched in 2020, Apple introduced the first-ever ‘mini’ smartphone in this series. The series ditched the Liquid Retina display in favor of the Super Retina display or OLED panels. It also offered 5G connectivity on all devices and improved the three cameras on the iPhone 12 Pro models. It also featured LiDAR sensors for faster focus on the cameras.

iPhone 13

Equipped with the A15 Bionic chipset, the iPhone 13 series was quite similar to its predecessor, bar the iterative processor upgrade. It also came with a Cinematic mode for video recording, a sensor‑shift optical image stabilization for highly detailed images, and 2.5 hours of longer battery life (as claimed by the company).

iPhone 14

In 2022, Apple unveiled the iPhone 12 series and officially discarded the iPhone mini model, and instead brought back the ‘Plus’ moniker from 2014. This Plus model was the same in all aspects as the iPhone 14 standard model, but had a larger 6.7-inch display, matching the iPhone 14 Pro Max. It featured an upgraded A15 Bionic chipset for the standard models and the A16 Bionic chipset for the Pro models. This year’s smartphones introduced satellite connectivity, car crash detection, a cool Dynamic Island, a pill and a hole-shaped cutout for Face ID, and selfie camera, a 48MP primary rear camera. While it did not offer major upgrades, it still brought back the feeling of novelty with the Dynamic Island.

And this was the entire history of the iPhone. And in just another week, we will see what the Apple iPhone 15 specs are going to be at the Apple event.

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