The iPhone evolution: here's how Apple's iconic smartphone improved over the past 7 years

The iPhone evolution: here's how Apple's iconic smartphone improved over the past 7 years

Can you believe that more than seven years have passed since Steve Jobs announced the very first iPhone? Yup, and it has been quite a ride for the company and industry since then! The iPhone didn't only become a hit. It single-handedly defined what a modern smartphone should look and feel like. It is, without a doubt, the most highly desired smartphone on the market, and the announcement of each new model is an event anticipated by millions of fans. This brings us to today – the day when the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus were made official. The time seems ideal for a quick retrospective, so without further ado, let us embark on a journey through the history of Apple's iconic smartphone.

The iPhone that got it all started


In June 2007, Apple made headlines by announcing a revolutionary new phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a powerful internet communicator. These were not separate devices, however; the first-gen iPhone was all that, all the while looking great in its metal outfit. Unlike most other phones at that time, the first iPhone relied on a touchscreen interface. It had a large (for the time) 3.5-inch display, and the only button found on its front panel was the home key. And unlike most other smartphones, the iPhone needed no stylus as its capacitive touchscreen and user interface were optimized for use with a finger. Apple's competitors were quick to dismiss the iPhone as a product with no potential due to its lack of a physical keyboard, but the market thought otherwise. The iPhone didn't only sell well. It paved the way for a revolution. 



The iPhone 3G: now with an App Store, push notifications, and GPS


About a year later came the iPhone 3G. It brought along a slight redesign as it had a plastic back, in either black or white, instead of a metal one, but the really significant changes concerned the phone's hardware and software. As its name implied, it offered 3G connectivity (its predecessor was limited to EDGE connectivity only). A GPS radio was also added. And on the software side of things, Apple introduced the App Store, where users could download third-party applications from, push notifications, and Exchange support to meet the needs of corporate users. 



The iPhone 3GS, where "S" stands for speed


In June 2009, Apple announced the iPhone 3GS, which packed more processing power than its predecessor. This allowed it to deliver a smoother user experience – apps launched faster, games ran better, the UI was more responsive. The camera was treated to an upgrade as well. First and foremost, its resolution was bumped to 3MP for more detailed images. Also, the camera now had auto-focus, and the camera app allowed the focus area to be set with a tap. The phone came with a new version of the iPhone operating system which included voice controls, internet tethering, and turn-by-turn navigation.



The iPhone 4: resolutionary screen, iconic design


The iPhone 4 was a notable upgrade over the iPhone 3GS. First and foremost, it brought along an incredibly (for the time) pixel-dense display. While its 3.5-inch diagonal size was nothing out of the ordinary, its 326 PPI pixel density took quite a while to beat. The iPhone 4 was also quite different from its predecessor in terms of design. Its front and back sides were made of glass while the frame surrounding the device was made of metal. It was also a part of the antenna system, unfortunately, and that led to some serious issues. Remember the infamous "Antennagate" scandal? For those needing a refresher, the iPhone 4 would lose signal strength when held in a particular way. Nevertheless, it was another success in Apple's book, and eventually, an upgraded model came along.



The iPhone 4s: same on the outside, new on the inside


At a glance, the iPhone 4s didn't seem any different from the iPhone 4. It did not suffer from the aforementioned antenna issues, however, and introduced quite a few hardware improvements, including a faster, dual-core processor and an 8MP camera which turned out to be one of the best at the time. As a matter of fact, it became the most popular camera on Flickr. People loved it for its speed and for the great images that it was capable of taking with minimum effort on the user's side. Plus, it could capture great video at 1080p resolution.



The iPhone 5 brought a larger screen, a slimmer design, and LTE connectivity


The iPhone 5 was announced in September of 2012. Unlike all previous iPhone models, it came with a 4-inch screen instead of a 3.5-inch one, all while retaining the 326ppi pixel density of its predecessor. Its design was improved as well. As a matter of fact, the iPhone 5 was the slimmer and ligher iPhone we had seen until that day. Under the hood was placed an even faster processor. The camera resolution still stood at 8MP, but a better DSP allowed it to take clearer images and more stable 1080p videos. Plus, this is when Apple added sweep panoramas to its camera app. We must also mention that the iPhone 5 was the first iPhone to support 4G LTE connectivity. 



iPhone 5s: faster processor, Touch ID, iOS 7.0


Along with the iPhone 5s, Apple launched its seventh major iOS release. Its flat, colorful looks made it quite different from previous iOS versions, and reviews were mixed at the time, but eventually, people got accustomed to the platform's new look. Besides, it was made better than before, with the handy Control Center and 64-bit support. As for the iPhone 5s, it did not bring only the mandatory hardware upgrades, among which was a faster A7 processor. It introduced us to Touch ID – a fingerprint scanner embedded in the home screen. Also, this was the first iPhone to come in gold, in addition to white and black. The camera resolution was not altered, but the flash was improved by adding a second, warm LED that helped to produce more natural light in dark shots.



iPhone 5c: for the colorful


At the very same event, Apple also introduced the iPhone 5c – a plastic-made iPhone that was available in 5 fun colors. On a hardware level, it was pretty similar to the iPhone 5, save for its improved front-facing camera. Unfortunately for Apple, this particular iPhone model didn't sell well, which is probably why we didn't see a successor at tonight's event. Speaking of which...


iPhone 6: bigger, bolder, faster


Size is one of the biggest differences between the iPhone 6 and its predecessor. The new model is slightly bigger, with a 4.7-inch display, yet thinner, at only 6.9 millimeters. To no surprise, the iPhone 6 also brings along a faster processor, a more pixel-dense display covered by extra-toughened glass, and an even better 8MP camera. On the software side of things, the refined iOS 8 runs the whole show. Take a look at our iPhone 6 coverage to learn more about Apple's latest iPhone model. 



iPhone 6 Plus: for those who won't settle for any less


And last but not least, we have the iPhone 6 Plus, which got announced alongside the 4.7-inch iPhone 6. The Plus is an even larger model, sporting a 5.5-inch, 1080p display. On a hardware level, it is more or less identical to the iPhone 6, the only differences being its optically-stabilized camera, bigger battery, and higher display resolution. iOS 8 – the latest and greatest version of Apple's mobile platform – is what runs on the iPhone 6 Plus.



Size comparison: all iPhones - from the first generation to the 6 Plus


Apple iPhone

Apple iPhone

Dimensions

4.5 x 2.4 x 0.46 inches

115 x 61 x 11.6 mm

Weight

4.80 oz (135 g)

Apple iPhone 3G

Apple iPhone 3G

Dimensions

4.5 x 2.4 x 0.48 inches

115.5 x 62.1 x 12.3 mm

Weight

4.70 oz (133 g)

Apple iPhone 3GS

Apple iPhone 3GS

Dimensions

4.5 x 2.4 x 0.48 inches

115.5 x 62.1 x 12.3 mm

Weight

4.76 oz (135 g)

Apple iPhone 4

Apple iPhone 4

Dimensions

4.5 x 2.31 x 0.37 inches

114.3 x 58.6 x 9.3 mm

Weight

4.83 oz (137 g)

Apple iPhone 4s

Apple iPhone 4s

Dimensions

4.54 x 2.31 x 0.37 inches

115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3 mm

Weight

4.94 oz (140 g)

Apple iPhone 5

Apple iPhone 5

Dimensions

4.87 x 2.31 x 0.3 inches

123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm

Weight

3.95 oz (112 g)

Apple iPhone 5s

Apple iPhone 5s

Dimensions

4.87 x 2.31 x 0.3 inches

123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm

Weight

3.95 oz (112 g)

Apple iPhone 5c

Apple iPhone 5c

Dimensions

4.9 x 2.33 x 0.35 inches

124.4 x 59.2 x 8.97 mm

Weight

4.66 oz (132 g)

Apple iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6

Dimensions

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.27 inches

138.1 x 67 x 6.9 mm

Weight

4.55 oz (129 g)

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Dimensions

6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches

158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1 mm

Weight

6.07 oz (172 g)

Apple iPhone

Apple iPhone

Dimensions

4.5 x 2.4 x 0.46 inches

115 x 61 x 11.6 mm

Weight

4.80 oz (135 g)

Apple iPhone 3G

Apple iPhone 3G

Dimensions

4.5 x 2.4 x 0.48 inches

115.5 x 62.1 x 12.3 mm

Weight

4.70 oz (133 g)

Apple iPhone 3GS

Apple iPhone 3GS

Dimensions

4.5 x 2.4 x 0.48 inches

115.5 x 62.1 x 12.3 mm

Weight

4.76 oz (135 g)

Apple iPhone 4

Apple iPhone 4

Dimensions

4.5 x 2.31 x 0.37 inches

114.3 x 58.6 x 9.3 mm

Weight

4.83 oz (137 g)

Apple iPhone 4s

Apple iPhone 4s

Dimensions

4.54 x 2.31 x 0.37 inches

115.2 x 58.6 x 9.3 mm

Weight

4.94 oz (140 g)

Apple iPhone 5

Apple iPhone 5

Dimensions

4.87 x 2.31 x 0.3 inches

123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm

Weight

3.95 oz (112 g)

Apple iPhone 5s

Apple iPhone 5s

Dimensions

4.87 x 2.31 x 0.3 inches

123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm

Weight

3.95 oz (112 g)

Apple iPhone 5c

Apple iPhone 5c

Dimensions

4.9 x 2.33 x 0.35 inches

124.4 x 59.2 x 8.97 mm

Weight

4.66 oz (132 g)

Apple iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6

Dimensions

5.44 x 2.64 x 0.27 inches

138.1 x 67 x 6.9 mm

Weight

4.55 oz (129 g)

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

Dimensions

6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches

158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1 mm

Weight

6.07 oz (172 g)

To see the phones in real size or compare them with other models, visit our Visual Phone Size Comparison page



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57 Comments

1. darkkjedii

Posts: 30831; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

128 gig gold plus. This next 10 days will take forever to pass by.

3. TheMoltenD

Posts: 109; Member since: Jul 13, 2014

$1000 waste.

5. darkkjedii

Posts: 30831; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Mine to waste.

16. Vexify

Posts: 570; Member since: Jun 16, 2014

He's just angry, like most fanboys on this site who disguise themselves at techies or unbiased users lmfao. Who are these losers trying to kid?

22. sniper1087

Posts: 537; Member since: Dec 31, 2011

128GB is compelling and yeah with financing it isn't as bad and you will have plenty of space. I like the fact that the 64GB is more accessible and the 128GB the bigger increase since is twice the size of 64GB and the 128GB are worth over 100 bucks which makes the increase from 64GB to 128GB more reasonable.

24. ThePython

Posts: 902; Member since: May 08, 2013

Not angry. A thousand dollars for a phone is a bit too much, you can buy a great laptop with all that money. It's really not that compelling in my case considering there are other (cheaper) options that can hold -even more- than 128 GB.

26. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

One, are you seriously comparing some junky microSD card to NAND Flash storage? Two, where are these "magically larger" microSD cards, and how much do they cost?

32. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

2tb laptop drives are $100.

36. pulkit1

Posts: 354; Member since: Jul 03, 2014

it is all about priorities , if he already has a good laptop why will he buy a laptop instead of a phone . It is like telling him to buy a large truck instead of a honda just because it can do more.

43. ThePython

Posts: 902; Member since: May 08, 2013

The laptop was just an example, one can buy a lot of things with 1k. Now to Napalm_3nema: Junky microSD card? Where? You probably got a bad one. I've yet to have problems with my cards elsewhere. And good ones are relatively cheap fyi.

44. CanYouSeeTheLight

Posts: 1122; Member since: Jul 05, 2012

And why do you think your opinion on what to do with HIS money counts?

53. ThePython

Posts: 902; Member since: May 08, 2013

@K contributing to the discussion.

55. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

a mind is a terrible thing to waste, buying a over price phone.

39. Industriality

Posts: 131; Member since: Sep 08, 2014

I think you are a retard, in fact, you look like a retard.

45. aba71983

Posts: 807; Member since: Jul 24, 2014

If you can't afford $1000 don't buy the new iPhone 6 and you have many Android phones choices with different features, screen size and half price of iPhone 6. $1000 is not a waste of money for me because I can earn in 1 month only.

56. jeff327

Posts: 86; Member since: Feb 28, 2012

Just a little advice because you obviously need some. If you can earn $1000 in a month you cannot afford a $1000 phone. If you would like me to explain the math I will do so but trust me as I am only looking out for you and your ability to pay your bills.

54. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

enough to make u go bankrupt. Plus the icons hadn't change just another row and with more patent rounded edges

2. bob_monkeywarts unregistered

I like the "related phones" area. They all look the same. First comment, yay!!!

15. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

D is growing bigger n bigger.... Lol

4. ikenvape

Posts: 306; Member since: May 28, 2014

Holy fu*k PA ! 67 Iphone articles. 67! Wtf is wrong with you guys. And believe me, I'm not anti anything, but Jesus Christ I need a new tech site.

6. darkkjedii

Posts: 30831; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Then by all means. Go find one.

13. AlikMalix unregistered

Did you think for a minute that maybe Apple announcements are more relevant in the world than say, a whole bunch of Android releases? Yes, it's not relevant to you and the group of your friends, but the world needs to know what is going to happen in the next year or two to smartphones - and trust me, bumping up specs isn't really the key - it's experience and how it changes the way we rely on our "assistants". Hey look at it this way, Apple announcement will finally make use of that NFC you had on your phone for all those years....

18. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Darkjedi I gotWell since he's bringing the whine, I'll get the cheese and crackers.

47. ikenvape

Posts: 306; Member since: May 28, 2014

Hey the Verge left you a note "Sorry buddy, the condom did break" Fyi I am interested in the flatter thinner iPhone 5SS and I liked the watch and the whole keynote, but PA barking like wild banshees over it with now over 70 articles for just 3 f'n devices is ridiculous.

7. javy108

Posts: 1004; Member since: Jul 27, 2014

iPhone 6 Plus= Galaxy Note 2???

8. AnTuTu

Posts: 1592; Member since: Oct 14, 2012

iPhone 6 plus = Galaxy S :)

19. javy108

Posts: 1004; Member since: Jul 27, 2014

LOL hahah up for this

10. buccob

Posts: 2952; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

Kind of, but severely limited software-wise.

9. FrenchTea

Posts: 16; Member since: Aug 18, 2014

"It is, without a doubt, the most highly desired smartphone on the market". No it's not... There goes iPhoneArena once again... Not at all surprised. And now saying iPhone arena is an offensive word which could result in me getting banned...

11. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

Uhhh, yes it is

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