History of iPhone: From revolution to the next big thing

History of iPhone: From revolution to the next big thing

The definitive guide to Apple's reinvention of the phone: From the original iPhone to what comes next!

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 8, the iPhone 6, the iWatch, 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.

History of iPhone at a glance

iPhone iPhone 3G iPhone 3GS iPhone 4 iPhone 4S iPhone 5 iPhone 5c iPhone 5s
iPhone iPhone 3G iPhone 3GS iPhone 4 iPhone 4S iPhone 5 iPhone 5c iPhone 5s
Code Name M68 N82 N88 N90 N94 N41 N48 N51
Model Name iPhone 1,1 iPhone 1,2 iPhone 2,1 iPhone 3,1 iPhone 4,1 iPhone 5,1 iPhone 5,3 | iPhone 6,1
Launch OS iPhone OS 1.0 iPhone OS 2.0 iPhone OS 3.0 iOS 4 iOS 5 iOS 6 iOS 7 iOS 7
Screen Size 3.5 inches 3.5 inches 3.5 inches 3.5 inches 3.5 inches 4.0 inches 4.0 inches 4.0 inches
Screen Resolution 480x320 (163ppi) 480x320 (163ppi) 960x640 (326ppi) 960x640 (326ppi) 1136x640 (326ppi) 1136x640 (326ppi) 1136x640 (326ppi) 1136x640 (326ppi)
Screen Type IPS LCD IPS LCD IPS LCD IPS LCD IPS LCD IPS LCD IPS LCD IPS LCD
System-on-a-chip Samsung S5L8900 Samsung S5L8900 Samsung APL0298C05 Apple A4 Apple A5 Apple A6 Apple A6 Apple A7
CPU ARM 1176JZ(F)-S ARM 1176JZ(F)-S 600MHz ARM Cortex A8 800MHz ARM Cortex A8 800MHz dual-core ARM Cortex A9 1.3GHz dual-core Swift (ARM v7s) 1.3GHz dual-core Swift (ARM v7s) 64-bit 1.3GHz dual-core Cyclone (ARM v8)
GPU PowerVR MBX Lite 3D PowerVR MBX Lite 3D PowerVR SGX535 PowerVR SGX535 PowerVR dual-core SGX543MP4 PowerVR triple-core SGX543MP3 PowerVR triple-core SGX543MP3 PowerVR G6430
Co-processor none none none none none none none M7 Motion
RAM 128MB 128MB 256MB 512MB 512MB 1GB 1GB 1GB DDR3
Storage 4GB/8GB/16GB 8GB/16GB 16GB/32GB 16GB/32GB 16GB/32GB/64GB 16GB/32GB/64GB 16GB/32GB/64GB 16GB/32GB/64GB
Cellular Data EDGE 3G 3.6 HSPA 7.2 HSPA 7.2 HSPA 14.4 LTE/DC-HSPA LTE/DC-HSPA LTE/DC-HSPA
SIM Mini Mini Mini Micro Micro Nano Nano Nano
Rear Camera 2MP 2MP 3MP/480p 5MP/720p, ƒ2.8, 1.75µ 8MP/1080p, ƒ/2.4, BSI, 1.4µ 8MP/1080p, ƒ/2.4, BSI, 1.4µ 8MP/1080p, ƒ/2.4, BSI, 1.4µ 8MP/1080p, ƒ/2.2, BSI, 1.5µ
Front Camera none none none VGA VGA 1.2MP/720p, BSI 1.2MP/720p, BSI 1.2MP/720p, BSI
Bluetooth Bluetooth 2.0+EDR Bluetooth 2.0+EDR Bluetooth 2.1+EDR Bluetooth 2.1+EDR Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 4.0
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g 802.11b/g 802.11b/g 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz) 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz) 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz, 5GHz) 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz, 5GHz) 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz, 5GHz)
GPS none aGPS aGPS aGPS aGPS, GLONASS aGPS, GLONASS aGPS, GLONASS aGPS, GLONASS
Sensors Ambient light, accelerometer, proximity Ambient light, accelerometer, proximity Ambient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass Ambient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscope Ambient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscope, infrared Ambient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscope, infrared Ambient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscope, infrared Ambient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscope, infrared, fingerprint
Mic Single Single Single Dual Dual Triple Triple Triple
Connector 30-pin Dock 30-pin Dock 30-pin Dock 30-pin Dock 30-pin Dock Lightning Lightning Lightning
Height 4.52 inches (115mm) 4.55 inches (115.5mm) 4.55 inches (115.5mm) 4.54 inches (115.2mm) 4.54 inches (115.2mm) 4.87 inches (123.8mm) 4.91 inches (124.8mm) 4.87 inches (123.8mm)
Width 2.40 inches (61mm) 2.43 inches (61.8mm) 2.43 inches (61.8mm) 2.31 inches (58.6mm) 2.31 inches (58.6mm) 2.31 inches (58.6mm) 2.33 inches (59.2mm) 2.31 inches (58.6mm)
Thickness 0.46 inches (11.6mm) 0.48 inches (12.3mm) 0.48 inches (12.3mm) 0.37 inches (9.3mm) 0.37 inches (9.3mm) 0.30 inches (7.6mm) 0.35 inches (8.97mm) 0.30 inches (7.6mm)
Weight 4.72oz (135g) 4.69 oz (133g) 4.72oz (135g) 4.83oz (137g) 4.94 oz (140g) 3.95oz (112g) 4.66oz (132g) 4.30oz (122g)
Battery 1400mAh 1150mAh 1219mAh 1420mAh 1440mAh 1440mAh 1510mAh 1560mAh
Colors Black and aluminum Black/White Black/White Black/White Black/White Slate and black/Silver and white Blue/Green/Pink/White/Yellow Space gray and black/Silver and white/Gold and white
Launch Price $499/$599 on contract (no subsidy) $199/$299 on contract $199/$299 on contract $199/$299 on contract $199/$299/$399 on contract $199/$299/$399 on contract $99/$199 on contract $199/$299/$399 on contract
Release Date 6/29/2007 7/1/2008 6/19/2009 6/24/2010 10/14/2011 9/21/2012 9/20/2013 9/20/2013
Availability 4 countries, 4 carriers by year-end 2007 70 countries, 16 carriers by year-end 2008 80 countries by year-end 2009 90 countries, 185 carriers by year-end 2010 70 countries, 100 carriers by year-end 2011 100 countries, 240 carriers by year-end 2012 100 countries, 270 carriers by year-end 2013 100 countries, 270 carriers by year-end 2013

History of iPhone: Apple reinvents the phone

History of iPhone: Apple re-invents the phone

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.

History of iPhone 3G: Twice as fast, half the price

History of iPhone 3G: Twice as fast, for half the price

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.

History of iPhone 3GS: Faster and more powerful

History of iPhone 3GS: Faster and more powerful

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.

History of iPhone 4: Changing everything - again

History of iPhone 4: Changing everything - again

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

History of iPhone 4S: The most amazing iPhone yet

History of iPhone 4S: The most amazing iPhone yet

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.

History of iPhone 5: The biggest thing to happen to iPhone

History of iPhone 5: The biggest thing to happen to iPhone

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.

History of iPhone 5c: The most colorful iPhone yet

History of iPhone 5c: The most colorful iPhone yet

The invitation for Apple's 2013 iPhone event played off the dot motif from the whimsically animated video Tim Cook had shown off at WWDC, the one that expounded on Apple's core values and beliefs, and what they're willing to put their signature to. But unlike the stack black and white of the video, the invitations dots were in bright, bold color. So it was that on September 10, 2013, when Tim Cook took the stage, he announced that unlike almost every year previously, Apple wasn't going to lower the price of the previous year's black- and white-cased iPhone 5. That year the business had grown so large, Apple was going to replace with something new. With something fun. With something colorful. With the iPhone 5c.

History of iPhone 5s: The most forward thinking iPhone ever

History of iPhone 5s: The most forward thinking iPhone ever

Apple's event on September 10, 2013 was unique in their history — they introduced not one but two new phones on stage that day. The first was a re-imagining of the previous year's model in a new, more colorful form. It was the past made present. The second was all about the future. It was, as Phil Schiller called it, the most forward thinking iPhone ever. It was the iPhone 5s.

The iPhone 6 and what's next...

Apple will be holding its annual fall event - now an iPhone event - on September 9 in Cupertino, California. There, it's widely anticipated they'll announce their next generation iPhone 6 in at least its 4.7-inch incarnation and perhaps its 5.5-inch one as well. It should have a new, more rounded design to better make use of bezel gestures, near-field communications (NFC) to tie into its new mobile payment solution, new optics for its camera, and perhaps some other new features. Despite a steady stream of rumors and leaks, nothing is official until an Apple executive holds it up on the keynote stage.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

History of iPhone: From revolution to the next big thing

9 Comments

In the chart is says the iPhone 3GS has a 326 ppi display. Didn't the iPhone 4 first include the retina display? :)