iPhone 5 vs. iPhone 4S vs. iPhone 3GS vs. iPhone design evolution gallery

The iPhone 5 Apple's 6th version, and 4th major design revision, of the iPhone. It might well have been inevitable, and still be working its way towards Jonathan Ive's Platonic ideal, but it's also a fascinating visual evolution of case shrinking, screen lengthening, and materials improving over generations.

We've done the iPhone 5 in both stunning portrait, and in intimate macro. Here's the Darwinian march of iPhone designs through the years, from the original 2007 iPhone to the 2009 iPhone 3GS to the 2011 iPhone 4S to the brand new 2012 iPhone 5.

Here are the backs, from aluminum to plastic to glass and back to aluminum.

And the dock connector, from 30-pin to Lightning, as well as the speaker and mic grills, and the movement of the 3.5mm headset jack. (Side by side and stacked.)

The controls on the side, stacked, from rockers to buttons.

The SIM cards both in trays and naked, from mini- to micro- to nano-SIM.

And the connector, from the new Lightning to the old 30-pin Dock.

All shots taken with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM and an EF 100mm F2.8 L IS USM Macro lens, embedded at HiDPI for iPhones, iPad 3, and Retina MacBook Pro.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • iphone 5 design isn't good
    it's perfect
  • I still love the aluminum back on the first gen iPhone.
  • Might want to hide the imei from the sim tray
  • crazy how much has changed ! and to see what hasn't
  • It's still nice, simple and easy to use as it always has been, I love it!
  • The 5D III and the 100 f2.8 macro are a great combo.
  • Hey Rene,
    Why not do an evolution comparison of the iPhone 5 against the Porsche 911?
    Both identities are similar but yet different.
  • Please pick me imore! iPhone 5 need it badly :)
  • I've read/heard at various places that the phone feels tall - true that there are taller phones out there, but due to the width remaining the same as iPhone 4S, it would eventually feel tall. Question is: does that have a good feel to it or a bad feel?
  • personally holding it, it feels good and you get used to the size.. its a taller phone but just by a little.
  • I still feel that the 3GSs aesthetics are much superior to the blockish 5. If Motorola or HTC had come up with that design when the 3GS was launched, people would call it outright ugly.
  • Interesting how the iPhone 5 has design elements that trace back to its roots. The speaker grill "holes", and the aluminum back and are harking back to the "original". I remember my 2007 iphone. Still miss it. ;)
  • i love the iPhone 1st gen, would love to use it again when i finish fixing it
  • Great post on the differences of iPhones from 3GS, 4S to the new 5.
    I was comparing the loading speeds of various apps, the twitter app launch speed is amazing, compared to the iphone 4 (Black) is only a short clip, but I think illustrates how far the iPhone has come. http://youtu.be/CW_4ak2yqoY