The evolution of the iPhone

iPhones have revolutionised the world. There are a total of 18 models of iPhones that have been made, all with features that are either the same as other iPhones or some that differ. With the new iPhones XS, XR, and XS Max, we will see just how much Apple has changed and evolved over the 12 years of making iPhones. We will see if Apples claims are true about the developments of these new iPhones.

The evolution of the iPhone

iPhone: June 29, 2007

Can you believe 16 GB is all you could put on the original iPhone? Granted there wasn’t nearly as much data to put on the iPhone yet and certainly no App Store. But you had access to the internet on a screen you could actually see it on. And it could only handle 128 MB of memory. The camera was 2.0 mega pixels— so, terrible. But a phone with a camera! Holy moly!

iPhone 3G: July 11, 2008

As far as internal specs go, the iPhone 3G wasn’t much different than the original iPhone. But now there was an App Store! This iPhone got its moniker for its 3G connectivity, which meant access to internet you could actually use without wanting to throw the iPhone across the room.

iPhone 3GS: June 19, 2009

Apple introduced the 32 GB storage option with the iPhone 3GS. Clearly introducing the App Store changed things quickly. Between photos, music, and apps, 16 GB just wasn’t going to cut it. The camera got an upgrade to 3 MP and added video recording. Apple also added Voice Control, although we’d have to wait a couple more years before the introduction of Siri.

iPhone 4: June 24, 2010

Now we’re getting somewhere. The iPhone 4 was the first iPhone to have a front-facing camera. Little did Apple know, selfies would take over the world. The iPhone 4 also got a Retina display. With 512 MB memory, it was equipped to handle a lot more than even the iPhone 3GS, which only had 256 MB of memory. You can see the technology was beginning to look a little more familiar, but 32 GB was still the maximum amount of storage the iPhone could hold.

iPhone 4S: October 14, 2011

Talk about a huge difference between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S: the camera went from 5 MP to a whopping 8 MP. Now that’s an upgrade. Apple also introduced the 64 GB storage option but kept the memory at 512 MB. Video could then be recorded in 1080p. Oh I can’t forget— hello, Siri! Apple sold four million units of the iPhone 4S in its first week.

iPhone 5: September 21, 2012

Apple sold 5 million units of the iPhone 5 in its first week. The camera stayed the same but memory was boosted all the way up to 1 GB. You thought 3G was cool? Psh, the iPhone 5 had LTE connectivity. Hello internet everywhere. Apple also introduced the Lightning connector with the iPhone 5. And for the first time, the screen got bigger! All previous generations’ displays were 3.5 inches but the iPhone 5 was 4 inches.

iPhone 5s & iPhone 5c: September 20, 2013

Between the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c, Apple sold nine million units in the first week of sales. The iPhone 5c was meant to be slightly more affordable and had a plastic shell. It was available in four different colors, but not too much else was different. The iPhone 5s, on the other hand, introduced Touch ID, dual flash, and slow-motion video. Plus it included the M7 motion coprocessor, which opened a new realm of possibilities and also helped save battery life.

iPhone 6 & 6 Plus: September 19, 2014

Apple tends to make larger leaps between the original model and the S edition than it does from the S edition to a new model. The iPhone 6’s internal specs were very similar to those of the iPhone 5s. The biggest difference was having a significantly larger screen and offering an even larger size called 6 Plus. The Retina display became HD and the option to get an iPhone with 128 GB of storage became available. But the amount of memory was the same and the camera didn’t see a megapixel upgrade. But it didn’t matter—Apple sold 10 million units in the first week.

iPhone 6s & 6s Plus: September 19, 2015

Well not everything, it basically looked the same. But inside, Apple upgraded the iPhone 6s quite a lot. The camera made a huge leap forward going from 8 MP to 12 MP. The memory was also doubled from 1 GB to 2 GB. After the iPhone 6 had some bending issues (#bendgate), Apple gave the iPhone 6s 7000 series aluminum to make sure that never happened again. Last but not least, 3D Touch was introduced.

 

iPhone SE: March 31, 2016

Don’t think I’ve forgotten the iPhone SE. It had all the awesome internal specs of the iPhone 6s in a small package and without 3D Touch. But overall, the iPhone SE was introduced as a more affordable option that people really loved.

iPhone 7 & 7 Plus, September 16, 2016

Apple finally dropped the 16 GB base model option, with iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus base models starting at 32 GB of storage and going up to 256 GB. Apple also introduced a new shiny Jet Black color. The iPhone 7 Plus proved to be more popular than previous Plus models due to its new dual camera, which made a significantly improved zoom feature possible, and Portrait mode, a software update that let iPhone 7 Plus users take impressive photos using Depth of Field. Perhaps the most controversial feature of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus was the one Apple removed: the headphone jack. The new iPhones shipped with EarPods that plugged into the Lightning port and an adaptor for traditional headphones. Apple introduced its wireless AirPods at the same event it announced it was eliminating the headphone jack.

iPhone 8 & 8 Plus, September 22, 2017

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus introduced us to wireless charging with the glass cover on the back on the iPhone. The camera was awesome, with upgraded tools for editing and filtering our images. The true-tone display improved the viewing experience by automatically reducing blue-light exposure. Users eventually (mostly) got used to not having a headphone jack and began adapting to the wireless lifestyle.

iPhone X, November 3, 2017

Speaking of awesome cameras, the iPhone X included an extra front-facing camera that let us take amazing selfies in Portrait mode. Sure, other iPhones let us take cool looking photos, but the iPhone X included Portrait mode for the front-facing camera and we fell in love at first aperture.

iPhone XS & XS Max, September 21, 2018

Skipping right over the iPhone 9, Apple announced the XS and XS Max at its September 2018 event in the Steve Jobs Theater. These models were well named, as they were definite upgrades along the lines of the iPhone X. Both models had the front-facing camera to for Portrait-mode selfies. The displays were edge to edge and it all looked great with the Super Retina HD display. The biggest upgrade might be the smallest; the A12 bionic chip increased the processing power while decreasing battery drain.

iPhone XR, October 26, 2018

The iPhone XR was also announced at the September 2018 event, but wasn’t available right away. Because it was the cheaper of the new models, quite a few people decided to wait for the XR to be available. These iPhones were smaller than the XS and XS Max (but still bigger the 7 and 8 Plus). The display was not as crisp as the XS and XS Max, but with the Liquid Retina HD display the difference wasn’t too noticeable. This model also had the front-facing camera and came in way more colors than the XS or XS Max.

iPhone 11, September 20, 2019

newest iphone

The iPhone 11 is the least expensive of Apple’s annual line, but still has enough new features to be in the running for 2019’s most popular iPhone. The device features a 6.1 inch Liquid Retina display, and comes in six crisp colors. The most exciting addition may be the second camera on the back of the 11, both 12 MP, and offering wide and  ultra wide lenses.

iPhone 11 Pro, September 20, 2019

iphone 11 pro

For Apple customers looking for a smaller phone with a top-of-the-line display, the iPhone 11 Pro is for you. The 5.8-inch Super Retina XDR display is Apple’s most crisp, and clear to date. This phone features not two, but three, 12 MP HDR camera lenses, offering wide, ultra wide, and telephoto lenses. The color options are more muted than the iPhone 11, but there’s always the option to add a flashy case!

iPhone 11 Pro Max, September 20, 2019

iphone 11 pro max

Apple’s largest and most expensive phone of 2019 is the iPhone 11 Pro Max. The display is Apple’s Super Retina XDR, as with the 11 Pro, but sized at 6.5-inches. The Pro Max features the same,three-lens camera setup as the 11 Pro, as well as the same color choices, making size nearly the only difference between the devices.

Have you ever asked yourself when the first iPhone came out? We have the full history of the iPhone right here. 2020 marks the 13-year anniversary of the first iPhone release, so we’ll celebrate by looking at the evolution of iPhone models starting in 2007. Did you know that there isn’t an iPhone 2? Apple created the first generation iPhone and the one that came after that was all about that 3G internet connectivity. So the number 2 was skipped. What about the iPhone 9? Well, Apple skipped right over that as well and right into the iPhone X. The tech giant has released a total of nineteen iPhones over the years, including iPhone S and iPhone Plus models, and, of course, the latest iPhone 11 line. Here is a complete look at iPhone evolution, starting when Steve Jobs unveiled the original iPhone. 

Related: Updated for 2020: Easiest Way to Know Your iPhone Model (All iPhone Models, Numbers & Generations)

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iPhone: June 29, 2007

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Can you believe 16 GB is all you could put on the original iPhone? Granted there wasn’t nearly as much data to put on the iPhone yet and certainly no App Store. But you had access to the internet on a screen you could actually see it on. And it could only handle 128 MB of memory. The camera was 2.0 mega pixels— so, terrible. But a phone with a camera! Holy moly!

iPhone 3G: July 11, 2008

As far as internal specs go, the iPhone 3G wasn’t much different than the original iPhone. But now there was an App Store! This iPhone got its moniker for its 3G connectivity, which meant access to internet you could actually use without wanting to throw the iPhone across the room.

iPhone 3GS: June 19, 2009

Apple introduced the 32 GB storage option with the iPhone 3GS. Clearly introducing the App Store changed things quickly. Between photos, music, and apps, 16 GB just wasn’t going to cut it. The camera got an upgrade to 3 MP and added video recording. Apple also added Voice Control, although we’d have to wait a couple more years before the introduction of Siri.Advertisement

iPhone 4: June 24, 2010

Now we’re getting somewhere. The iPhone 4 was the first iPhone to have a front-facing camera. Little did Apple know, selfies would take over the world. The iPhone 4 also got a Retina display. With 512 MB memory, it was equipped to handle a lot more than even the iPhone 3GS, which only had 256 MB of memory. You can see the technology was beginning to look a little more familiar, but 32 GB was still the maximum amount of storage the iPhone could hold.

iPhone 4S: October 14, 2011

Talk about a huge difference between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S: the camera went from 5 MP to a whopping 8 MP. Now that’s an upgrade. Apple also introduced the 64 GB storage option but kept the memory at 512 MB. Video could then be recorded in 1080p. Oh I can’t forget— hello, Siri! Apple sold four million units of the iPhone 4S in its first week. Advertisement

iPhone 5: September 21, 2012

Apple sold 5 million units of the iPhone 5 in its first week. The camera stayed the same but memory was boosted all the way up to 1 GB. You thought 3G was cool? Psh, the iPhone 5 had LTE connectivity. Hello internet everywhere. Apple also introduced the Lightning connector with the iPhone 5. And for the first time, the screen got bigger! All previous generations’ displays were 3.5 inches but the iPhone 5 was 4 inches.

iPhone 5s & iPhone 5c: September 20, 2013

Between the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c, Apple sold nine million units in the first week of sales. The iPhone 5c was meant to be slightly more affordable and had a plastic shell. It was available in four different colors, but not too much else was different. The iPhone 5s, on the other hand, introduced Touch ID, dual flash, and slow-motion video. Plus it included the M7 motion coprocessor, which opened a new realm of possibilities and also helped save battery life.Advertisement

iPhone 6 & 6 Plus: September 19, 2014

Apple tends to make larger leaps between the original model and the S edition than it does from the S edition to a new model. The iPhone 6’s internal specs were very similar to those of the iPhone 5s. The biggest difference was having a significantly larger screen and offering an even larger size called 6 Plus. The Retina display became HD and the option to get an iPhone with 128 GB of storage became available. But the amount of memory was the same and the camera didn’t see a megapixel upgrade. But it didn’t matter—Apple sold 10 million units in the first week.

iPhone 6s & 6s Plus: September 19, 2015

Well not everything, it basically looked the same. But inside, Apple upgraded the iPhone 6s quite a lot. The camera made a huge leap forward going from 8 MP to 12 MP. The memory was also doubled from 1 GB to 2 GB. After the iPhone 6 had some bending issues (#bendgate), Apple gave the iPhone 6s 7000 series aluminum to make sure that never happened again. Last but not least, 3D Touch was introduced.Advertisement

iPhone SE: March 31, 2016

Don’t think I’ve forgotten the iPhone SE. It had all the awesome internal specs of the iPhone 6s in a small package and without 3D Touch. But overall, the iPhone SE was introduced as a more affordable option that people really loved.

iPhone 7 & 7 Plus, September 16, 2016

Apple finally dropped the 16 GB base model option, with iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus base models starting at 32 GB of storage and going up to 256 GB. Apple also introduced a new shiny Jet Black color. The iPhone 7 Plus proved to be more popular than previous Plus models due to its new dual camera, which made a significantly improved zoom feature possible, and Portrait mode, a software update that let iPhone 7 Plus users take impressive photos using Depth of Field. Perhaps the most controversial feature of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus was the one Apple removed: the headphone jack. The new iPhones shipped with EarPods that plugged into the Lightning port and an adaptor for traditional headphones. Apple introduced its wireless AirPods at the same event it announced it was eliminating the headphone jack. Advertisement

iPhone 8 & 8 Plus, September 22, 2017

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus introduced us to wireless charging with the glass cover on the back on the iPhone. The camera was awesome, with upgraded tools for editing and filtering our images. The true-tone display improved the viewing experience by automatically reducing blue-light exposure. Users eventually (mostly) got used to not having a headphone jack and began adapting to the wireless lifestyle. 

iPhone X, November 3, 2017

Speaking of awesome cameras, the iPhone X included an extra front-facing camera that let us take amazing selfies in Portrait mode. Sure, other iPhones let us take cool looking photos, but the iPhone X included Portrait mode for the front-facing camera and we fell in love at first aperture. Advertisement

iPhone XS & XS Max, September 21, 2018

Skipping right over the iPhone 9, Apple announced the XS and XS Max at its September 2018 event in the Steve Jobs Theater. These models were well named, as they were definite upgrades along the lines of the iPhone X. Both models had the front-facing camera to for Portrait-mode selfies. The displays were edge to edge and it all looked great with the Super Retina HD display. The biggest upgrade might be the smallest; the A12 bionic chip increased the processing power while decreasing battery drain.

iPhone XR, October 26, 2018

The iPhone XR was also announced at the September 2018 event, but wasn’t available right away. Because it was the cheaper of the new models, quite a few people decided to wait for the XR to be available. These iPhones were smaller than the XS and XS Max (but still bigger the 7 and 8 Plus). The display was not as crisp as the XS and XS Max, but with the Liquid Retina HD display the difference wasn’t too noticeable. This model also had the front-facing camera and came in way more colors than the XS or XS Max. Advertisement

iPhone 11, September 20, 2019

newest iphone

The iPhone 11 is the least expensive of Apple’s annual line, but still has enough new features to be in the running for 2019’s most popular iPhone. The device features a 6.1 inch Liquid Retina display, and comes in six crisp colors. The most exciting addition may be the second camera on the back of the 11, both 12 MP, and offering wide and  ultra wide lenses. 

iPhone 11 Pro, September 20, 2019

iphone 11 pro

For Apple customers looking for a smaller phone with a top-of-the-line display, the iPhone 11 Pro is for you. The 5.8-inch Super Retina XDR display is Apple’s most crisp, and clear to date. This phone features not two, but three, 12 MP HDR camera lenses, offering wide, ultra wide, and telephoto lenses. The color options are more muted than the iPhone 11, but there’s always the option to add a flashy case! Advertisement

iPhone 11 Pro Max, September 20, 2019

iphone 11 pro max

Apple’s largest and most expensive phone of 2019 is the iPhone 11 Pro Max. The display is Apple’s Super Retina XDR, as with the 11 Pro, but sized at 6.5-inches. The Pro Max features the same,three-lens camera setup as the 11 Pro, as well as the same color choices, making size nearly the only difference between the devices.  

iPhone Generations to Come

As you can see, the iPhone has gone through a lot of changes, from a 16 GB web-browser to a 512 GB all-in-one camera, work space, and entertainment center. We loved learning about the history of the iPhone, and we hope you did to! Be sure to check back in and stay up-to-date with all the newest models as the iPhone continues to evolve and grow.

Image Credits: Youtube / Greg Wyatt 

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At the Macworld convention in January 2007, Steve Jobs came on stage to announce they were about to launch a phone, a few months later on June 29th, 2007 the original iPhone was born and released to the public. The iPhone was the first touch screen phone to have a build in MP3 player (iPod) and a fully working web browser, it really was a fantastic innovation. The iPhone sold over one billion phones in the first 9 years and made up 53.89% of Apple’s revenue in 2019. Cell phone trade-in site, BankMyCell created the evolution of the iPhone with all the key figures here in this lovely graphic! Visually explore the aesthetic changes of each device along with the yearly sales, stock prices and key iOS feature releases that brought people into Apple’s eco-system. (Source: https://www.bankmycell.com/blog/iphone-evolution-timeline-chart)

The history of the Apple iPhone starts in 2007 when Steve Jobs took the world by surprise with the announcement of a mysterious 3-in-1 device that for the first time combined an iPod music player, an Internet communication device and a traditional phone: the original Apple iPhone.

And while the iPhone has changed a lot since its inception, the foundation that was laid at the start was a solid one that ensured success for the years to come. Every iPhone would deliver predictably smooth performance, a recognizable, easy to use interface, a focus on privacy and come with a set of features that would make it stand out.
In this article, we take a look at the innovation that came with each new iPhone, all the major features that each model brought, starting from the very first one and going to the most recent phones. Join us for this ride right below.

Apple iPhone History:

  • iPhone (2007)
  • iPhone 3G (2008)
  • iPhone 3GS (2009)
  • iPhone 4 (2010)
  • iPhone 4s (2011)
  • iPhone 5 (2012)
  • iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c (2013)
  • iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (2014)
  • iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus (2015)
  • iPhone SE (2016)
  • iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (2016)
  • iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus (2017)
  • iPhone XR, XS and XS Max (2018)
  • iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max (2019)

Original iPhone

June 2007Specs | Review

Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all
Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

“iPhone combines three products — a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough Internet communications device with a desktop-class email, web browsing, maps, and searching — into one small and lightweight handheld device.”

The original iPhone was the thing that started it all for modern smartphones: while there were smartphones before it, they were nothing like Apple’s iPhone that trumped them with its radically bigger screen, innovative multi-touch interface, and the first on-screen keyboard that actually worked well. It was the ultimate Apple 3-in-1, but while Apple thought of the original iPhone as a phone first, iPod second and a ‘communicator’ third, it’s interesting how most people would probably rank the ‘communicator’ aspect as what makes the iPhone and smartphones special.

Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

The list of breakthrough innovations in the original iPhone is so long and there is so much history behind each of them that an article (nay, a book) won’t be enough to properly describe it, but here is a very short summary:

  • 3.5-inch display with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels
  • iOS, a new multi-touch interface controlled entirely by your finger
  • Internet Connectivity (2G) with native email client and web browser
  • 2-megapixel photo camera with NO video recording capabilities
  • Ambient light sensor, proximity sensor
  • On-screen keyboard
  • 4GB / 8 GB / 16GB storage models
  • YouTube and Google Maps applications, Google Search
  • iPod music / video player with support for iTunes

iPhone 3G

July 2008Specs | Review

Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all
Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

Just a day before the launch of Apple’s second-generation handset, the iPhone 3G, on July 10th, 2008, the App Store officially opened for business. It was made available on the original iPhone, of course, and in hindsight it was clearly as big of an event as the phone launch itself.
The iPhone 3G kept the same screen size as the original, but went with a new, glossy plastic design and added 3G connectivity, making it much faster to load web pages. The iPhone 3G was also the first iPhone with GPS, the satellite communication that allows your phone to know its exact position and a quintessential part of a better maps and navigation experience.

Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

The iPhone 3G did away with the 4GB storage option and was only available in an 8GB and 16GB versions. This new iPhone also fixed an important oversight: the 3.5mm jack on the original iPhone was deeply flawed, it was way too recessed inside the body of the device and this made actually using many headphones impossible without an adapter (ah, the irony!). Apple itself admitted on its website for the OG iPhone that “some stereo headphones may require an adapter (sold separately) to ensure proper fit.”

iPhone 3GS

June 2009Specs | Review

Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all
Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

The iPhone 3GS was a gradual upgrade rather than a radical move, but it still brought important speed improvements and faster 3G connectivity.
The S in 3GS stood for speed, as the phone was more powerful, zippier, but its most important novelty was probably that it was the first iPhone that could record video. The iPhone 3GS’ new 3-megapixel camera debuted a video mode and was able to record videos at VGA (480p) resolution.

Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

It was also the first iPhone with a digital compass that allowed it to correctly show you your orientation in space in Maps.
The rest of the innovation here was a lot about software: core features like copy and paste, push notifications, landscape keyboard and more arrived in 2009.

iPhone 4

June 2010Specs | Review

Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all
Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

For many Apple customers, the iPhone 4 was the best iPhone design of all time. The iPhone 4 was the first major redesign within the iPhone series, introducing a stunning for the time glass construction with a metal frame. It was also the first iPhone to come with a ‘Retina’ display, a new screen resolution of 640 x 960 pixels that was so sharp Apple said it compares to the the natural limits of the human retina. This was the first phone with such a high resolution and it remained so for the next couple of years.
There was also a big scandal around the iPhone 4, the so-called antenna-gate. The issue was that when held a certain way, cellular signal got easily blocked by your hand and while Apple never formally fixed this, it did offer free bumpers that alleviated the issue.

Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

The list of innovations in the iPhone 4 is too long, so we’ll just quickly go through the most important ones right below:

  • Highest phone resolution of the time, ‘Retina’ display
  • First iPhone with a front-facing, selfie camera
  • New 5-megapixel camera capable of 720p HD video recording
  • Smaller, micro-SIM card slot
  • New glass-and-metal design
  • Secondary mic for noise cancellation

A few months after its launch on AT&T, Apple’s exclusive partner, the iPhone 4 finally launched on Verizon Wireless in the beginning of 2011.

iPhone 4s

September 2011Specs | Review

Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all
Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

2011 was probably the toughest and saddest year for Apple, its fans and the community: on October 5th, 2011, just a day after the introduction of the iPhone 4s, Steve Jobs, the man that created Apple, shaped it as a company and single-handedly led it with his unique vision for technology passed away. Jobs left Tim Cook, Apple’s former logistics chief as the CEO, and Cook hosted the iPhone 4s unveiling.
The big feature of the iPhone 4s was Siri, the smart voice assistant that impressed with its ability to ask tricky questions with a pinch of humor and who would console you with a joke when you need it. It also set alarms and calendar appointments. The newer iPhone, however, remained a 3.5-inch phone, smaller than the Android competition that was getting a foothold among customers who wanted bigger devices.

Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

The iPhone 4s debuted with a new, two-antenna design and fixed the dreadful ‘antenna-gate’ problems of the iPhone 4. The major new features introduced with the iPhone 4s included a more powerful, dual-core chip, the Apple A5, a new 8-megapixel camera capturing more detailed pictures, with better white balance, and iCloud, a cloud-storage solution.
In October 2011, Sprint also finally got the rights to sell Apple’s iPhone and started offering the iPhone 4s, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS to its customers.

iPhone 5

September 2012Specs | Review

Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all
Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

The Apple iPhone 5 brought a slightly bigger and taller display than previous iPhones, but it was not the radical change that many users expected: it grew from 3.5 inches to 4 inches in screen size, and with it came a 16:9 aspect ratio (different from the 3:2 used before), which proved to be more practical for video, traditionally shot in 16:9.
The iPhone 5 also marked a monumental moment for Apple: it was the first phone with a chip that Apple itself made as it sought independence from Qualcomm. The Apple A5 impressed with its design and speed improvements, and set an important foundation. Apple was now able to better optimize the performance of its phone to the chip that it itself made. The new iPhone 5 design was also thinner and lighter. 

Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

It was – finally! – the first iPhone with 4G LTE support. The display was also improved in terms of color, it was well-balanced for the sRGB standard used across the web for images and video.
This was also the time when iOS software chief Scott Forstall was shown the door as the newly-launched Apple Maps app, a project that he led, failed spectacularly at start. This would later lead to a huge change in the iOS interface that would move from the old-fashioned skeuomorphic design.

Months after the launch of the iPhone 5, the last big U.S. carrier finally got the rights to sell it: T-Mobile joined AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint in carrying the iPhone. This was around the time when John Legere started the massive change at T-Mobile and grew it to where it is now.

iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c

September 2013Specs | Review

iPhone 5s - Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all
iPhone 5s - Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

iPhone 5s

iPhone 5c with its plastic colorful body - Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all
iPhone 5c with its plastic colorful body - Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

iPhone 5c with its plastic colorful body
As competitors had already moved to bigger-screen phones as the standard, all eyes were on Apple in late 2013. Everyone expected a bigger phone, but the company was not yet ready to show that. What it had up its sleeve was the iPhone 5s, which featured the same size and design. 
Yet still, this was an important ‘S’ update with two key features that were years ahead of the competition: a new Apple A7 ‘Cyclone’ chip, the first 64-bit chip on a phone, years before others even had started work on 64-bit chips, and then also ‘Touch ID’, the fingerprint-based secure identification system that would take years to properly implement on Android phones. It also brought improvements to low-light camera performance and other minor enhancements.

Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

The iPhone 5s also marks a new era for iOS: in June 2013 at WWDC, Apple announced a radical change to the iOS design with iOS 7. The new Jony Ive-designed interface did away with the old-fashioned elements in iOS in favor of a flatter, transparency-rich interface that felt like a huge step forward.
Let’s also not forget about the iPhone 5c, the colorful plastic iPhone with an affordable price that many people bought.

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

September 2014Specs | Review
iPhone 6 (left), iPhone 6 Plus (center) and iPhone 5s (right) iPhone 6 (left) and iPhone 6 Plus (right)
In 2015, after years of waiting, Apple – finally! – showed an iPhone with a bigger screen. In fact, there was two of them: the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus.
The pair sold like hotcakes: it brought both a Galaxy S and a Galaxy Note competitor, but it was also clearly better designed, with a thin and streamlined, durable aluminum body. It felt on another level than the cheap-feeling plastic designs from Samsung. It’s safe to say now that the iPhone 6 was an important step towards establishing premium, metal designs as the standard among flagships.
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus also introduced a much better camera with faster auto-focusing and support for continuous auto-focus in videos.
There was a change in storage options: the iPhone 6 base model was still a 16GB one, but there were 64GB and 128 gig options for more demanding users.

iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus

September 2015Specs | Review
iPhone 6s with its new 3D Touch system iPhone 6s Plus
After going on a crusade for thicker iPhones, in 2015, for the first time, Apple actually increased the thickness of its new iPhones. The main reason for the thicker body of the new iPhones was a new display technology that allowed the phone to sense the force of a touch. Apple called the tech 3D Touch and introduced it to a lot of its own apps. It all worked a bit as a right click, a neat time-saving shortcut for many apps.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were the first iPhones able to record 4K video. Android phones had come with 4K video for years, but all of them had annoying limitations such as 5-minute limit to video clips and no ability to edit 4K footage on the phones. The iPhone 6s might have been late, but it got all those things right: video came very crisp, recorded at high bit-rates, and Apple updated its excellent iMovie with support for up to two 4K video channels. At the time, many laptops could not handle 4K video editing, outdone by a phone.
Other cool iPhone 6s features included Live Photos that recorded a short video before and after a still image, a set of new 3D Touch-enabled Motion Wallpapers, a new rose gold color, as well as support for ‘Hey, Siri’, a hands-free voice command that activated the smart iPhone assistant.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

September 2016Specs | Review

Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all
Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

In 2017, two big things happened to the iPhone: Apple killed the headphone jack and both new iPhones got water-proofing. In a ‘courageous’, typical Apple move, the company killed our good old pal, the 3.5mm headphone jack. The outcry was huge and while it did not affect sales much as the iPhone 7 broke all previous Apple sales records, many people were annoyed by this move.
Also, the iPhone 7 Plus for the first time differentiated itself as the more capable camera phone, with a dual camera system where a secondary, “telephoto” lens allowed taking zoomed-in photos and applying a new “Portrait mode” effect that would blur the background in an image for a professional, DSLR-like look. The little iPhone 7 also got a better camera: it now came with optical image stabilization (OIS), which contributed to more blur-free pictures and better video stabilization.
The other big news was the new jet black color that was available in very limited quantities and felt almost like glass, but got scratched extremely easily. A new, matte black color was also available and while not as stunning to look at, it was more practical and less prone to scratches.
Apple continued improving the displays of its iPhones as well by introducing a new, wide-color DCI-P3 mode that made everything look more vibrant, more impressive.

Apple iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

September 2017Specs | Review
iPhone X and its signature Face ID system and notch iPhone 8 (left), iPhone X (center) and iPhone 8 Plus (right)
Apple introduced a record three new iPhones in 2017 and back then kept the iPhone 7, 6s and SE series available, making its overall portfolio of iPhones the biggest ever offered.
This year also marked the first time we saw an iPhone priced at $1,000, much higher than the $750 that Apple typically asked for a Plus sized iPhone before.
And the iPhone X was really the iPhone that paved the way for the future: it was the first one with a bezel-less edge-to-edge screen (yes, with the notch) and it was the first with an OLED display. This also meant the demise of Touch ID fingerprint recognition: the brand new Face ID system that recognized your face proved more secure and easier to use.
The rest of the iPhone innovation that year was shared between the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus: the glass back, the wireless charging, the Apple A11 Bionic chip with its neural engine, as well as the new for the time 64GB and 256GB storage options.

iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max

September 2018Specs | Review
iPhone XR (left), iPhone XS Max (center), iPhone XS (right) iPhone XS Max (left), iPhone XS (right)
In late 2018, Apple cemented the tradition of launching three new phones at once, but this time all of the three new phones used the gesture navigation and Face ID systems that were the way for the future of the company.
The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max continued following the example set by the iPhone X: super premium, $1,000 plus prices that Apple tied to the next-generation AMOLED displays it used in these phones, plus both featured a dual camera system with a main and a 2X zoom telephoto lens.
The iPhone XR was the most affordable in the series, but still not cheap by traditional smartphone pricing terms with a price starting at $750. The XR introduced a colorful new design with vibrant tonalities for the back of the device. It used larger bezels on the front and Apple opted for the LCD screen technology with a quite low HD+ resolution, but kept the same powerful processor as on the XS series here and also used the very same main camera, factors that combined with the allure of the iOS ecosystem elevated the iPhone XR to become the best selling iPhone of the series.

iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max

September 2019Specs | Review

Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all
Apple iPhone history: the evolution of the smartphone that started it all

In 2019, Apple again launched three new iPhones that were quite similar to what it had offered in the previous year.
The main change was in the camera where all three iPhones received a brand new ultra-wide camera that allowed users to capture incredible landscape photos, as well as shoot in tight spaces.
The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max got the ‘Pro’ moniker that Apple seemed to associate again with their high quality AMOLED screens. In 2019, Apple gave users what users had requested for years: slightly thicker phones with a much, much bigger batteries that finally elevated the Pro and especially the Pro Max to the top of battery life rankings. The other important feature that the phones got was Night Mode, a new camera mode that would have the phone smartly combine a long exposure image with multiple others in an automated, easy process that captured good images in very dim light.
The iPhone 11 was again the most popular model in the series. Apple smartly decided to lower its starting price to $700, $50 less than the starting price of the iPhone XR from the preceding year and that move helped further boost the iPhone 11 popularity. Critics, however, pointed out that Apple was still using an old LCD technology and low resolution panel in a phone that costs quite a lot, while the competition was ahead in this regard.
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