Steve Jobs announced in January 2007 that Apple is finally releasing its own mobile phone and that it will reinvent the entire mobile phone scene and, just five months later, the first generation iPhone hit the market. Now, almost 10 years later and more than one billion units sold, let us take a look back at the iPhone evolutions through the years.
The first generation iPhone was unlike any of the commercially available mobile phones in 2007. Jobs described it as a touchscreen iPod, a mobile phone, and a mobile web browser in one, but it also became the mobile phone that paved the way for the rapid advance of mobile phone technology.
The very first iPhone was released in the United States (U.S.) on June 27, 2007 and, just like any hype, people lined up outside stores just to get their hands on the newest gadget from Apple. It was such a hit that retail outlets reported stock shortages within an hour of the release.
The first generation iPhone has a 3.5-inch display with a 320x480 pixel resolution and weighed about 135 grams. It had a 2.0 Mp rear camera, like many of its competition, but, unlike any other phone in the market, it lacked a keypad due to its touch screen capability. True enough, Steve Jobs' prediction on what the iPhone will do to the mobile phone industry came to fruition as its competitors scrambled to develop and manufacture mobile phones with similar capabilities.
Less than a year later, on March 6, 2008, Apple mobilized another sector of the mobile phone industry by releasing the Standard Developing Kit (SDK) for mobile application developers. The applications that were developed with the SDK were made available in the iPhone OS version 2.0, which ultimately led to increased attention for the iPhone.
iPhone 3G and 3GS
The iPhone 3G was release on July 11, 2008, just a little over a year after the first iPhone, and not only did it run on the iPhone OS version 2.0 installed, it also had access to the newly launched Apple App Store where third-party application developers can offer and sell the apps they created using the SDK released months prior. The 3G in the second-generation model's name is a nod to high speed connectivity that the device promises. Most of the original iPhone's hardware remained intact but the iPhone 3G was equipped with GPS, 3G data, and tri-band Universal Mobile Telecommunication System/High Speed Downlink Packet Access (UMTS/HSDPA) for better connectivity.
The original iPhone was discontinued just four days after iPhone 3G's release.
11 months later, Apple released the iPhone 3GS and, despite its very limited upgrades, many people still lined up to get the new model. Why? Perhaps because it was faster since Phil Schiller, Apple Inc.'s Senior Vice President for Worldwide Marketing, said that the 'S' stood for "Speed" and there is always a need for speed.
Upon release of the 3GS, however, the iPhone 3G became Apple's budget phone and sold for half its original price. Unlike the first generation iPhone, however, 3G lasted until half of 2010 and 3GS was not discontinued until 2012.
iPhone 4 and 4s
The iPhone 4 was released on June 7, 2010, after struggling with a number of product leaks but it promised to change everything yet again. Not only was it the thinnest iPhone, it also had an uninsulated stainless steel frame and a chemically strengthened aluminosilicate, high-resolution Retina LCD glass display. It was also the first iPhone model that has a front camera.
Production for the 4th generation iPhone discontinued in September 2013 but sales continued in developing countries until early 2014.
The 5th generation iPhone 4S was released on October 14, 2011 but unlike its predecessors, its announcement was only made during the "Let's Talk iPhone" event held at the Apple Campus, on October 4, just a day before Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs succumbed to cancer.
Unlike the 3GS, the 'S' on the iPhone 4s stood for Siri, iPhone's cheeky virtual assistant that users can interact with through voice commands, which earned a thumbs up from many entertained users. The release, however, was not as much of a hype as its predecessors since there was already a buzz about an iPhone 5 shortly after its release and more "experts" were looking forward to it.
A welcome addition to the 4s, however is the iMessage, Apple's messaging system that allows free unlimited messaging across Apple products.
iPhone 5, 5s ,and 5c
iPhone 5 is Apple's 6th generation iPhone-yes, it is a bit confusing-and it is also the very first iPhone developed and manufactured under the direction of Tim Cook, Steve Jobs' successor as CEO.
The iPhone 5 is thinner and lighter than the previous models and also sported not only a longer screen but an aluminum body as well. It was so well-received that two million units had already been sold in the first 24 hours of pre-order and five million units only three days after its release.
The iPhone 5 not only gained even more recognition for Apple products, it also received a lawsuit from Samsung for infringing eight of its patents, which probably contributed to its very short lifespan in the market.
The iPhone 5s was released on September 20, 2013, along with its less expensive sibling, the iPhone 5C. Most of the improvements with these two successors to the iPhone 5 were internal, despite being given a slight external makeover. The 5s was the first iPhone to be equipped with a 64-bit dual-core processor so it was a major selling point for the model.
The 5C was designed to be Apple's mid-range iPhone so, upon its release, the iPhone 5 was immediately discontinued and the 5C replaced it, unlike Apple's usual practice of selling previous models for a lower price. Perhaps the most noticeable change in the 5C is its hard-coated polycarbonate body, which replaced the iPhone 5's aluminum one.
iPhone 6, 6 Plus
Both the iPhone 6, 6s and 6s Plus are direct successors of the iPhone 5s and were released on September 19, 2014. Both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models sport a wider display-4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, respectively, and boasts a more powerful and faster processor, better cameras, upgraded Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity, as well as support for near field communications-based mobile payment.
Despite its powerful improvements, however, the iPhone 6 became the subject of jokes due to its many hardware issues and tendency to bend under pressure and camera stabilization issues.
Both models were discontinued on Sept. 7.
iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were released on September 25, 2015 and succeeded the 6 and 6Plus. Basically, Apple fixed the issues of the 6 and 6 Plus models, added a few more features such as the "3D Touch," then released the new versions. Perhaps this is why the 6s received a record-breaking launch sale of 13 million units on its first weekend.
iPhone Special Edition (SE)
The iPhone SE was critically well-received during its announcement and launch on March 31, 2016, perhaps because it combined the best features of two favorite units in the iPhone line. The iPhone SE sported a nearly identical design to the 5s-a crowd favorite-and had selected hardware upgrades from the 6s model.
iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
Also released in 2016, just months after iPhone SE, are the iPhone 7 and 7Plus, which runs on iOS 10 and 10.2.
There are mixed reviews for the latest models, especially after Apply removed the earphone jack in favor of Bluetooth connected air pods. There were also some reported performance issues such as a hissing noise under heavy use and a couple of instances of exploding batteries.
Still, this is Apple we are talking about so the company probably has a solve already and would fix the issues in the next iPhone model which will have a hefty price tag but people would buy anyway.
Whether we are fans of the iPhone or not, it is hard not to salute Apple's top secret "Project Purple" for taking the lead in bringing more powerful devices in our pockets or handbags so, happy (almost) 10th anniversary, Apple iPhone.