Which iPhone was the most ground-breaking?

Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything. Those were the words spoken as Steve Jobs hit the stage and introduced the very first iPhone to the world after having spent two and a half years working on the device. Looking back at that keynote, I'm not so sure everyone at that time felt the same way about it but if they didn't then, the chances are good that they do now.

The iPhone as a product has arguably gone on to reshape not only the smartphone industry but the wireless industry as a whole and while the very first iPhone takes much of that credit for a lot of people, a recent thread in the iMore Forums asks which iPhone do you think broke the most ground for Apple? Was it really the very first iPhone that took it mainstream popularity or was it another iteration?

I'm still of the opinion that the 3GS was what pushed the iPhone into the much bigger area of mainstream popularity.Speedygi, iMore Forums Member

By production count, the iPhone 3GS is reportedly the most popular iPhone having a production run of 1181 days; followed by the iPhone 4, produced for 1174 days and for a lot of folks, that seems to be the device that really sparked their interest in Apple's iPhone offerings.

The iPhone 4. With the new body and retina display people took it seriously. AT&T exclusivity ended.sting7k, iMore Forums Member

For others, it's the iPhone 4 which brought about a whole new design at the time and marked the end of AT&T's exclusivity on the device. At that point, the device became more accessible than ever before and the masses wasted no time grabbing them. If you really think about how many iPhone 4's you still see out there today, I bet it's a lot.

So let's hear it. Which iPhone do you think broke the most ground for Apple? You drop your in the iMore Forums or let us know below in the comments section.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Chris Parsons

Editor-at-Large at Mobile Nations, gadget junkie, energy drinker, ranter.

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Reader comments

Which iPhone was the most ground-breaking?


I agree with the 4 being the one, at least State-side. The beautiful design, and the end of AT&T exclusivity. That opened huge doors for Apple.

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Yup! I agree with the iPhone 4. I owned the 2G and 3G and most people thought it was cool, but hardly anyone I knew had one. After the iPhone 4, iPhones are everywhere

I agree. I didn't even know what an iPhone was until my friend starting going crazy over the release of the 4

Same in the UK with o2 exclusivity up until the 4. It's definitely the phone the I think most resembles the capabilities that Apple was reaching for in terms of power and OS and the 1 that is more recognisable to todays phones when held against older models

The 3GS was a great generation of the iPhone's lineage, but I think the 5(S/C) series with its increased screen size (and other great features) will make it the most popular iPhone and Apple's most attractive iPhone for the masses.

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iPhone 4 was definitely a tipping point. New design, new carriers. And it's the first on that I saw the non-geeks in my family getting. My sister still is rocking her 4.

I would say the first one. If it wasn't for the first iPhone, Apple wouldn't have been able to do what they have been doing for the past 6 years. It paved the way for the iPad, which rocketed them into the richest company in the world.

I competely agree with you. Just go back and take a look at what smart phones looked like before the iPhone. That first iphone really changed everything.

iPhone 4. Design, camera quality, front camera, speed. This for me is Apples most iconic iPhone.

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I think iPhone 4,

New carriers
New solid design
Retina display
Better camera front and back
Flash photography
Faster than anything before it.

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I think that the iPhone 3GS was the iPHone that really put Apple(mobile) over the top. Not to mention that the 3Gs still has life today. Every iphone that came after the 3Gs are all updates and upgrades but the 3Gs was the game changer for me at least

I would say the 2G broke the most ground. This was revolutionary and change the mobile industry completely. This one phone made many makers change how they viewed and design a phone. This device was probably the entry to the internet for many people.

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When the iPhone 4 finally came to verizon, that was a game changer. My contract was up, and I didn't have to change carriers.

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Agreed, that Verizon deal had more impact than any single version of the actual phone IMO......people forget the huge impact VZW not having (and then having) the iPhone made, not only for consumers, but the mobile industry (see the push for Android with the DROID line for an example. While it was available before that, it was mostly an afterthought until VZW pushed their lineup in absence of the iPhone)

My iPhone 4 broke the most ground. After owning it for a day and a half, I got so frustrated with that and iTunes, I threw it down and it actually chipped my hardwood floors. After that, I went out and bought my first Android phone, the Galaxy S3. I've been hooked every since!

If you're so hooked on a Android, why are you here on a Apple based website being a stupid troll raving about you're love of android. I guess you feel the need to confess your love of android and the need to let others know how great it is in hopes to feel better about yourself for something else you lack in life. I think you're on the wrong site. You're like the people that drive under the speed limit, cut me off and then cus/flip me off for not slowing down and letting you in front of me.

You dipshit, that was the worse analogy ever! Lol I bet you drive a big redneck truck to make up for your "other" inadequacies. And btw, if the app I am using has a stupid headline in it like this one, of course I'm going to put in my two cents. I like educating narrow-minded dumbass Crapple fan boys like yourself that there are better things out there. I guess it's my way of giving back to the community. It's kind of like I'm working with mentally challenged people on this site. It's for a good cause, especially around the holidays and all.

But do remember, your shitty iPhone is only popular here in the US and Japan. Hell, Windows phones are doing better in Europe than Crapple products. There's a reason they only have 12% marketshare compared to Androids 82%. And that gap isn't getting any closer. Lol

CK1, you sound (read) pissed off. dude. chill. this is an iOS/Apple-centric site.

i just read your post for a second, and third time. wow.

[EDIT: and my vote is for the iPhone 1st Gen.]

Wow! look how low you stooped, comparing the people on here to the mentally challenged. That in itself is just wrong. I never said android is bad or that I didn't like it. But I also don't have the need when I go on a android based site and post how great my iPhone is and how everyone should switch to one because I think its great and those that use an android based phone are sheep. I said you're on the wrong site, you haven't owned a iPhone since the 4 and you still follow a apple based site, what do you think they are going to talk about on here?
When I go on a android site, its to see whats available or whats going to be released so I can pick the right device that suits my needs.
However, android users do seem to be the only ones on a apple site that constantly feel the need to reply to a post that has nothing to do with them or their device. It's like android fans are really closet apple fans.

Same here. I sometimes look to see what's going on elsewhere but I don't push Apple stuff while there. Lacks class. iPhone envy is obvious in anti-Apple rants, trying to convince themselves what they have is better. Sad, really. I'm happy with what I have and I hope other people with other things are happy too. Nothing is right for everyone.

There is no reason to disparage Apple products just because their methods are not your preference. The industry knows Apple produces very well engineered products. Samsung does as well. Even if Samsung did not produce quality products, I still wouldn't engage android's website in an argument why "I" think Apple is better.

On subject, the iPhone 4 is what got me to switch over to Apple. I saw a marked departure in the quality of phones when th 4 came out.

P.s. I did buy two Samsung TVs this week and hoked up Apple TVs to them.

Damn Chris...that's one HELL of a retort! Apple is taking in over 75% of ALL mobile profits, regardless of Android's (exaggerated in your post) market share. While sure, you CAN walk into any 7-11 and buy an Android phone for $10, +$20 for some minutes....out the door and chalk to up to ONE MORE Droid sold! Bullshit. I own two devices and have for three years. Three Droids and each iPhone, with the 'older' version I'm replacing being passed down to family members or donated over seas. Right now I'm using the 5s and the Note3. They're both incredible phones. Both do a LOT of things right, neither gets much wrong....and whatever it is YOU do with your phone is what should determine your purchasing decisions. Not your inability to figure out how to use your iPhone with iTunes. Lol...mentally challenged. A) no mentally challenged person I've met would make the ignorant comment you made....and B) iPhones work EXTREMELY well for challenged folks, as they're already built with accessibility features stock. Not Android. And that's sad. Words like 'crapple fanboys' actually say a LOT more about you then ANY of us :rolleyes:
As far as the game changer....IMHO, the first blew the industry up. That's incredible. The 4 introduced the world to retina, HiDPI displays and the 4s....LTE Tough to big THEE biggest game changer but I'd agree with everyone BUT Chris....either the first gen OR the '4' with its establishment with other carriers and thus availability to the masses NOT on AT&T or overseas carriers

There is nothing more pathetic when someone who hates Apple products chooses to live in a blog that supports them. One must have a horrible life with really, nothing else going on. You poor thing. But hey, keep on trolling fanboy...we like your kind around here. Kinda like going to the carnival and being constantly reminded how low life can be lol...

Why Chris were you googling 'gay' again lol! Listen we are not here to judge you. If you wanna choke down some dude's root that is all you man. Keep reppin that lifestyle and congrats on finally being able to legally get married!!

For real, quit trying. You fail miserably.....

Liar, no way there are hardwood floor in your moms basement......just an old jizz-stained (thanks to you) carpet.

Trust me you little delusional, free-loading loser, you'll never have anything in life. Just look in the mirror man, who in the hell would hire someone like you?? You are the poster child for meth heads. Good lord, go do what you do best and smoke some crack or meth. And stay off the computers at the local public library. Quit pretending to own any kind of wireless device. Lol

I'd be pissed too if I bought a cell phone and realized after a day and a half that I just wasn't intelligent enough to use it. How are those plastic samsung phones working out for ya? Did you watch the clever commercials and beg your momma to get you that phone you can bump against other phones lol?? Does it get your off that you can change a live wallpaper every other day like the rest of the teenagers who own android phones? Two kinds of people own android....those who are 14 and want to customize their phones with new pics of Justin Bieber and the others who cannot afford an iPhone. Carry on douchebag.


Hey dipshit, you still using that "Monster's University" phone case that your mom bought you. Or did you trade it up for something a little more grown up, like the Turbo one? I'm pretty sure that's the only way to customize your iToy. And if you have to use a software application to add music or anything to your wireless device, that should tell you something there. Here's how people perceive Crapple, you'll really like this. Oh, I forgot to ask, did you get approved to move in to that trailer park you've been saving up for? Just remember, always aim high. Next year, you might get that job at McDonald's you've been studying for. Lots of opportunity for a "not-so-smart" redneck like you. Good luck! :)

lol you've used the same material time and time again. Still not clever, still not funny. Hey, does your oversized Note 2 have snickers or whatever the latest lame os update that's out there? Enjoy that laggy fragmentation fanboy.

Oh yeah, and the fact that you know what Monsters University is, speaks volumes about you BWAAAAA


Lol, Yea. Let's just all pray that you never have any offspring. We don't need any more uneducated rednecks like you in this world. Or are you a wanna-be thug? Here's that pic of you and your sister. You two look awfully close. Hmmmm, I was joking about your family tree, however, it turns out I was right. Way to keep it in the family sicko! And your comebacks are really pathetic. If you need help, I'll send a few so you don't look like such an ass in front of your peers. Ha, ha!

So I see you are commenting on contests that you are recently unemployed and hoping to win electronics. And yet you are on here insulting others calling them trailer park and everything else? You sad, pathetic fuck. I'm done with you. You can comment whatever you want after this but I'm finished answering you. You have problems way beyond arguing with me over phones. Get your life together you piece of shit. Amazing what a little digging will bring up about someone. I'll pray for you. I'll pray that you can somehow rise above being the worthless piece of shit you obviously are. Quit trying to mouth off to those of us who are clearly much more accomplished than you and fix your shit. And save the soon to be hilarious retort about how that was 'made up' to win a contest. Lol I almost feel guilty handing out cyber bitch slaps to you the last few days. Happy commenting loser. I'm out...

Definitely the iPhone 4... I remember after I picked that up, I spent way too much time just holding it and gazing at it as if it were an art piece. It commanded my attention.

I'd say the iPhone 4, as it finally broke the AT&T exclusivity. And, at the time it was cutting edge design, both hardware and software. Nothing else in the market then could match its quick and fluid performance. After the iPhone 4, they went from being seen around sometimes to being ubiquitous.

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I believe the iPhone 4 was the most groundbreaking for Apple! It was all new everything! It's the phone that changed everything for apple! Innovation at it's best

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The first iPhone because it was the start of smartphone popularity. The BBs had been complex pagers and the Windows Phones were a mess (I had one for a week before returning it). The first iPhone started the popularity of smartphones.

The 4 would be my second choice, but not because of the groundbreaking design - but because it introduced high quality displays to smartphones (retina).

It was two iPhones that broke the ground.
The first iPhone, (iPhone 2g) sent out a shock wave that made all other phone manufactures at the time do a 180 from what was currently on the market, and what others knew they had to copy in order to survive.
The second iPhone, (iPhone4) set the standard that everyone had to have. Better camera, better screen, faster processor and silky smooth UI. Google had to improve their OS and Samsung wanted to be the next big thing, so they did the only logical thing they could....they copied Apple


Although, arguably, the 1st iPhone itself somewhat copied the LG Prada which Steve Jobs had seen almost one year before when the Prada won the 2006 IF Design Award.

The iPhone 4 or whichever first had the retina display. At that time the screen didn't seem real, like there was a plastic overlay with those impossibly perfect icons. Unbelievable.

The most groundbreaking iPhone has to be the first iPhone. It changed the world as we know it. I still remember the first time I saw one. It was a whoa moment.

When the iPhone 3GS came out android was in fact hardware and software behind but when the iPhone 4 came out which I found is the best looking iPhone ever, android moved faster forward and more! Now android is very good but I still love my iPhone and I tried so many androids phones but nothing can bet the iPhone

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I think it is the 5S. This one changed everything. We went from "Apple is always perfect" to "New technology always has its flaws"

Not the phone, but the beginning of the App Store. To me, that was the name changer for Apple.

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I found that the 4 was the most ground breaking in terms of sheer evolution compared to it's predecessors, whereas the original iPhone was the most ground breaking in terms of revolution. The original brought the change, the 4 simply sped things up.

Either the first iPhone or iPhone 4. iPhone 4 with all the new funtionalities it added to the device, plus I believe it was really the iPhone that really got the attention of consumers. Most of the iPhone users that I know started with a 4.

As others have said, the 1st Gen iPhone was the most groundbreaking. It turned the entire industry on its head and really made smartphones mainstream devices. It brought down Palm, Nokia, and Blackberry. Without it we'd still be clicking away on physical keyboards and staring at tiny, low resolution screens. It was the catalyst. The OG of smartphones. If it hadn't been the awesome product it was and failed in the marketplace, no other iPhone would exist. Apple would most likely have taken a plunge with the amount of resources they poured into its development. The tech landscape today would have been completely different.

No. The capacitive touchscreen was coming to phones, and LG was first with the Prada. In fact, both were coming in the wake of the Palm products, which had no physical keyboard. Apple jumped early on the bandwagon, but the first iPhone was not a commercial success nor it changed the landscape by itself. The market was changing and Apple recognized it early on positioned itself better than anyone else.

Moreover, nobody brought Palm, Nokia, and Blackberry down, they did it all by themselves. Blackberry was still wildly successful well after the iPhone, but could not evolve fast enough.

You’re remembering it wrong!

Joke aside, stop playing with words. Apple didn’t invent the digitizer input overlaid on a screen. But they were the first to successfully implement it in a phone (meaning doing all the hard choices and work to make it right).

And when the iPhone launched, it came with a deal with AT&T that made sure it wasn’t going to be a flop, no matter the sales, it’s just that their accounting for it made it look like it was not that profitable.

And finally, when the iPhone came out, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia and Blackberry all laughed - while Google and Samsung worked with them to make it happen. Ponder at that for a moment...

3GS for me. Simply because it was the one that caused me to not only switch phone types, but began the process of dropping me - and my family - head first into the Apple ecosystem.

The first two. The original came out of nowhere and simply stunned because it truly rethought what a cell phone could be. I recall renderings in advance of the announcement showed an iPod-Telephone hybrid. Boy were they wrong.

The 3G gets mention only because of the business model. At $199 it became available to everyone who wanted one but would not pay $500 for a phone. Plus, it tan on what was the fastest network at the time - 3G rather than Edge.

For me certainly iPhone 4. The design, camera, the design. Did i say i really love the design? :-D

Now i'm using iP5, but miss my iP4 a LOT!

I'd say the 4 or even the 4S. I noticed around Christmas time, everyone was walking around with a 4S. It still amazes me today when I think about it.

Without a doubt the first one. It's software, shape & look haven't really changed dramatically since then. It also spawned the copy-cat Android and forced MS to re-think it's whole operating system around mobile computing.

Depends what we are judging this by. If it is by sheer numbers of people using the device it has to be the 4, as even my brother got one! However, for she influence you have to go with the 3GS, as it confirmed to the rest of the industry that the iPhone was good enough to stay, and to compete.

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The original iPhone changed everybody's thinking on what a phone could and should be. The iconic design of the 4 is still unsurpassed although the HTC One comes close.

I actually started liking the iPhone since the 3GS (and actually that was the time when i found out what the iPhone was) but didn't really felt that i needed one, but when the 4 was released i definetinely felt that something changed and craved for it!! so i think that the iPhone 4 was the most ground-breaking iphone apple made up untill the 5!

The iPhone 4 hands down broke the most ground. Available on different carriers so many people were able to get them. Completely new design that's basically still used today.

the iPhone provided something mainstream and was extremely popular but the one that made the most difference to shape to the thing we recognise most today i would have to say the redesign of the iPhone 4

iPhone 4 was the one with the heaviest impact upon the smartphone market for one big reason (at least for me): the front facing camera. Video chat on a smartphone changed the game, which inspired others to follow. Couple that with Retina display and amazing apps, it made the 4 a trendsetter.

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I'm going to say iPhone 4. It broke the chains from AT&T and introduced (finally) a lot of the features many other smart phones already had (camera flash being number one on that list, in my opinion). I got one in September of 2010 and used it the entire two years of my contract and sold it for $225 just before the introduction of the 5.

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If you assess the impact of each device on the industry, on the conscience of the public, the original iPhone was no doubt the most groundbreaking. Not because of features alone, but how it changed the entire industry. If you watch the 2007 keynote, when Steve Jobs did the slide to unlock for the first time, just listen to the "oooohs" and "ahhhhs" from the audience. As if we all collectively said at the same time, "Of course, that's how it should've been the whole time." While the other designs and features have enhanced the experience since then, I still remember how wowed everyone was when iPhone was introduced in 2007. I don't remember being quite as excited about any iteration of the phone since, and I've owned iPhone, 3G, 3GS, 4S and now 5s.

I would have to agree with most people it seems, in saying that the iPhone 4 was probably the most groundbreaking. The Camera was a lot better, the speed, the design and the retina display made this phone the most game changing iPhone.

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iPhone 4 hands down. I have had every version since Gen1 and when I opened the box for the 4, I just said to myself....wow!

I switch over to Apple when the iPhone 5 was released. I was a Blackberry and Nokia fan. I tried the first iPhone and it reminded me of the Motorola Ming I had back in 2003/2004. I was use to customization and the first couple of gens lack that ability without jail breaking. When Nokia stop supporting Symbian and Meego in the US, the Blackberry bold series was my go to devices. I tried different gens of iPhones, Droid, and Web OS but none of them in my opinion was convincing enough for me to switch until the Iphone 5. I now I have the iPhone 5, BB z10, and Q10. I will stick with BB and Apple for now.

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I would say both the original iPhone and the iPhone 4 (tied for 1st place). I owned them both. The first iPhone was missing some features at first compared to the BlackBerries etc. but there was nothing else like it when it was first introduced, and there was something about it that just felt right in a way that no competing device did at the time. I loved the ergonomics of it too. It was only 2G but it still worked fine years later. I never had any problems with it.

And then came the iPhone 4, which was the first iPhone that really made me stand up and take notice, and I simply had to have it. There was no other device out there that even mattered to me. I ended up getting a black & silver 32 GB iPhone 4. The retina display was unrivaled at the time, and it still holds up respectably well even today. I didn't like the glass back but I loved the stainless steel body of it (and I really wish they would've kept the stainless steel on the 5 and 5S). It was kinda heavy for its size but I didn't mind because you could feel the precision and quality in it. It was dead-reliable and the battery lasted me all day, no problem. I loved that thing, and despite the tiny screen it was probably my all-time favorite phone.

The iPhone 4 was a landmark device, it made the world take notice. I believe it was what Steve Jobs had originally envisioned the iPhone to be. The iPhone 4 was much faster, the Retina screen was (is) beautiful, the iOS was polished, the camera quality set new standards, and the design...Oh, the design. The iPhone 4, especially in white, is simply art. Crafted of a machined stainless steel frame and wrapped in glass front and back, it set a standard in build quality never seen before nor since.

I still use my iPhone 4 every day and it has never failed me. I will miss it when it is time to move on...