The definitive guide to Apple's reinvention of the phone: From the original iPhone to iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 5
Apple introduced the original iPhone back in 2007, instantly obsoleting every other smartphone on the planet in every way that mattered. Over the next two years, with the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, Apple increased functionality while simultaneously lowering price, taking the smartphone fully out of the niche and making it mainstream. The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S continued that evolution, bringing support for broader carriers and faster speeds, better displays and new, natural language interfaces. The iPhone 5 took manufacturing to new levels and the screen to new heights, but most importantly it set the stage for what's coming next - iOS 7, the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, and more. Before we embark on that brave new future, however, we're going to take a look back. This is the story of Apple's revolutionary phone. Of Steve Jobs' phone. Of the iPhone. And for many of us, our phone.
Note: For length reasons we've broken this piece into separate articles and sections. You can jump to a section via the links below, or read through for an overview and individual links below.
On January 9, 2007 the late Steve Jobs put sneaker to Macworld stage to give one of the most incredible keynote presentations of his life - a life filled with incredible keynotes - and in the history of consumer electronics. There, he said he would be introducing a wide-screen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough internet device. But it wasn't three products. It was one product. We got it. It was the iPhone.
At WWDC 2008 on June 9, after finalizing the details of the upcoming App Store, and summing up the original iPhone's achievements, the late Steve Jobs dove into the next challenges Apple had to face, the next mountain they had to climb. On the surface, they were obvious even before Jobs bulleted them on stage - 3G, Enterprise, third-party apps, more countries, and more affordable. The software changes came as part of iPhone OS 2.0. The hardware, iPhone 3G.
Steve Jobs didn't give the WWDC keynote on June 8, 2009. He was away on medical leave. So, a team of Apple executives soldiered on without him. That included Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, who's task was to fill the biggest New Balances in the business, for what was becoming Apple's biggest business. Schiller started off quoting Time Magazine's praise for the last generation, "the phone that has changed phones forever." He'd go on to make that phone more affordable forever, while also introducing its successor. It boasted twice the speed, both for processing and data networking. It was the iPhone 3GS.
Steve Jobs returned to the WWDC keynote stage on June 7, 2010. He'd introduced the iPad earlier in the year, and kicked things off with an update on how it, and the App Store had been doing. Then he turned his attention to iPhone, and after recapping Apple had done to date, he began on what would come next. It had over 100 new features. It has an all-new design, an all-new camera, and an all new screen resolution. It was hot. It was the iPhone 4
Nothing about 2011 was normal for Apple. Tim Cook had introduced the Verizon iPhone 4 at the beginning of the year and Apple had finally shipped the white iPhone 4 by spring. But unlike previous years, WWDC 2011 came and went with nary a mention nor a glimpse of a new iPhone. Steve Jobs went on medical leave again, and in August resigned as CEO. He passed away on October 5, 2011. Just the day before Apple's new CEO, Tim Cook, SVP of Marketing Phil Schiller, and other executives valiantly took the stage at a special media called "Let's Talk iPhone". There, under tremendous emotional strain, they introduced the most amazing iPhone yet. The iPhone 4S.
WWDC once again came and went without any new iPhone announcements, re-affirming that that 2011 hadn't be a fluke. Fall was the new summer. So it was that Apple announced another iPhone event for September 12, 2012. There Apple SVP of worldwide marketing announced the biggest thing to happen to the iPhone since the original iPhone. Big as in in thinner and lighter. Big as in screaming fast LTE. Big as in a taller screen. Big as in the iPhone 5.
Apple will be holding its annual fall event - now an iPhone event - on September 10 in Cupertino, California. There, it's widely anticipated they'll announce their next generation high-end iPhone 5s and their first less-expensive iPhone 5c. The former might look familiar on the outside, but sport all new features inside. The latter might have some snazzy new, plastic color casings, but the same guts as last year. Yet the finer points of both design and components, and despite a steady stream of rumors and leaks, nothing is official until an Apple executive holds it up on the keynote stage. With that in mind, we have reason to believe some of the rumors and leaks have been accurate. We've gone over some of this previously in separate articles, but now we're rounding them all up and adding some new stuff. That way we can start setting reasonable expectations, even while we wait to be wowed!
As far as Apple's come over the course of the last six years, there's still years more to go. We're likely getting the first less-expensive iPhone this year, the first time Apple's introduced a second new iPhone in one year. Who knows what they could introduce next year, or the year after that, or the year after that? Bigger screens, new technologies, the future is wide open. The best is still to come.