Menu
The evolution of Apple's iPhone

The evolution of Apple's iPhone

As the iPhone ages, let's look at how the now-iconic device has matured since its arrival in 2007.

Credit: IDG / Apple

The iPhone has come a long way since its arrival in 2007.

First iPhone

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > The Original iPhone IDG / Apple

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone on Jan. 9, 2007. The device, which didn’t actually go on sale until June, started at $499 for a 4GB model, $599 for the 8GB version (with a two-year contract). It offered a 3.5-in. screen, a 2-megapixel camera and won plaudits for the then-new multitouch features. Critics, however, said the phone was too expensive to do well in the market. (See iPhone launch story.)

iPhone 3G

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 3G IDG / Apple

On June 9, 2008, a year after the original iPhone went on sale, Apple rolled out its successor, the iPhone 3G. The new model could connect to faster 3G-based networks, included built-in GPS, offered more storage and was cheaper. Selling for $199 for the 8GB model, $299 for the 16GB version, the iPhone 3G was available on July 11, and offered something called location services. “Location services is going to be a really big deal on the iPhone,” said CEO Steve Jobs. “It’s going to explode.” (See launch story.)

iPhone 3GS

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 3GS IDG / Apple

Again at WWDC, Apple's Steve Jobs announced the next iPhone, a faster version called the iPhone 3GS. Although the form factor was unchanged from the previous version, the new iPhone was twice as fast as its predecessor and ran iPhone 3.0 (an early version of iOS 8, due out later this month). The 32GB iPhone 3G S sold for $299; a 16GB model went for $199. An 8GB iPhone 3G was also offered for $99. The iPhone 3GS was available June 19, 2009. (See launch story.)

iPhone 4

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 4 IDG / Apple

The redesigned iPhone 4 arrived on June 7, 2010 in tandem with the newly-renamed iOS 4, and marked the arrival of FaceTime video chat. Prices remained unchanged: $199 for a 16GB model and $299 for the 32GB version. It went on sale on June 24, and heralded the arrival of the first high-resolution “Retina” screen. “Once you use a Retina Display, you can’t go back,” said Steve Jobs. (See launch story.)

iPhone 4S

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 4S IDG / Apple

In a change of pace, Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S on Oct. 4, 2011, a few weeks after Steve Jobs stepped down because of health issues. New CEO Tim Cook talked up the new phone's dual-core processor (the same used in the iPad 2), and said the 4S would go on sale Oct. 14. In addition to the usual 16GB and 32GB models, Apple also unveiled a 64GB version that sold for $399. (See launch story.)

iPhone 5

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 5 IDG / Apple

The iPhone 5, the first version to have a 4-in. screen, arrived on Sept. 12, 2012, as CEO Tim Cook touted the faster, slimmer upgrade to the iPhone 4S during a 90-minute presentation in San Francisco. “This is the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since the [original] iPhone,” he said, referring to the first-gen smartphone Steve Jobs had launched in 2007. The iPhone 5 hit the streets on Sept. 21; prices for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models were unchanged. (See launch story.)

iPhone 5S and 5C

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 5s / 5c IDG / Apple

On Sept. 10, 2013, Apple CEO Tim Cook rolled out not one, but two iPhones: the upscale iPhone 5S (now in gold, in addition to the usual white and black), and the colorful, less-expensive iPhone 5C. (The iPhone 5C was basically a reskinned iPhone 5.) The iPhone 5S got a faster, 64-bit A7 SoC (system on a chip), Touch ID, and a new motion data processor touted as the foundation for a new wave of health and fitness apps. The iPhone 5C started at $99 for a $16GB model; the iPhone 5S started at $199 for the same amount of storage. Both went on sale Sept. 20. (See launch story.)

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 6 / 6 Plus IDG / Apple

For the second year in a row, Apple unveiled two iPhones in 2014: the iPhone 6, which has a 4.7-in. screen, and the iPhone 6 Plus, with a 5.5-in. screen. Both iPhones sported new A8 processors that were faster and more efficient than the previous year’s models. Both also had upgraded cameras and were NFC-ready for access to the new Apple Pay network that rolled out in October. Although the iPhone 6 was priced the same as 2013’s iPhone 5S, the Plus model was $100 more. (See launch story.)

iPhone 6S and 6S Plus

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 6s / 6s Plus IDG / Apple

Apple's iPhone 6S and 6S Plus represented meaty upgrades to the 2014 models on which they were based. The 6S and 6S plus got new force touch technology called 3D Touch, as well as a beefed up 12-megapixel iSight camera that shot 4K video. (The 5-megapixel FaceTime camera was also new, and was designed to take better selfies.) Both phones ran on a faster A9 chip, and came in a new color for 2015: rose gold. (See launch story.)

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 7 / 7 Plus IDG / Apple

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus looked much like the 2015 models, with three major exceptions: Apple eliminated the audio jack, changed the home button into a haptic-based virtual button, and added a dual-camera setup in the 7S. The loss of the audio jack, a somewhat controversial move, meant users had to rely on the Apple-supplied earbuds or use their old headphones with the included adapter. Both phones ran on a quad-core A10 Fusion chip, and came in two new colors: Black (a matte-finish charcoal color) and the super shiny Jet Black. (See launch story launch story.)

iPhone 8/8 Plus

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 8 / 8 Plus IDG / Apple

Apple introduced the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus with a new glass and aluminium enclosure, Retina HD display, A11 Bionic Chip, and wireless charging on Sept. 12, 2017. The front and back glass enclosure, which Apple said was the most durable glass ever in a smartphone, was reminiscent of the design of the iPhone 4 and 4s. True Tone technology adjusted the white balance of the display to match the surrounding light. Redesigned stereo speakers were 25% louder and delivered deeper bass.

Apple called the A11 Bionic chip "the most powerful and smartest chip ever in a smartphone." It featured a six-core CPU with two performance cores and four efficiency cores, which were 25% and 70% faster than the A10 Fusion chip, respectively. The new iPhones included an Apple-designed GPU that delivered up to 30% faster graphics than in 2016’s iPhone 7.

Each model featured an improved 12-megapixel camera with a larger (and faster) sensor, a new color filter, deeper pixels, and capabilities for 4K video up to 60fps and 1080p slo-mo up to 240fps. ARKit in iOS 11 allowed developers to create AR games and apps offering immersive and fluid experiences. Color variations included space gray, silver, and a new version of gold.

iPhone X

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone X IDG / Apple

To commemorate a decade of iPhones, Apple ended its September event with “one more thing,” the iPhone X (“ten”). Starting at $999 for 64GB and $1,149 for 256GB, it was Apple’s most expensive iPhone to date. It included a redesigned glass and stainless steel enclosure, wireless charging, and dual cameras. Its flagship feature was an edge-to-edge “Super Retina display” — a 5.8-in. OLED display that supports Dolby Vision and HDR 10. It had a pixel resolution of 458ppi, a 1 million-to-1 contrast ratio, and True Tone.

Touch ID and the Home button were removed in favor of a new biometric security feature: Face ID. Face ID uses a TrueDepth camera system made up of a dot projector, infrared camera and flood illuminator. The A11 Bionic chip works in tandem with advanced depth-sensing technologies to map and recognise a user's face to securely unlock the iPhone or make a transaction with Apple Pay. Face ID only works when a user looks at the iPhone X directly and is designed to prevent spoofing by photos and masks.

The 7-megapixel TrueDepth front-facing camera that enables Face ID also included auto image stabilisation and delivered Portrait mode for better selfies with a depth-of-field effect. The TrueDepth camera also could animate emoji, which Apple playfully calls Animoji. The dual 12-megapixel rear camera included dual optical image stabilisation, and an improved f/2.4 aperature on the telephoto lens.

According to Apple, the A11 Bionic neural engine performed up to 600 billion operations per second and was designed for specific machine learning algorithms, enabling Face ID, Animoji, and other features. Colors included silver and space gray.

iPhone Xr

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone XR IDG / Apple

The Xr had an aluminum-and-glass design in six finishes, with improved water resistance and a 6.1-in. “Liquid Retina” display. Available in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB models and starting at $749, it featured Apple's A12 Bionic Chip with second-generation Neural Engine — the first 7-nanometer chip in a smartphone.

Portrait mode with depth control was available on the TrueDepth camera for selfies, which included support for Memoji and face tracking for Face ID authentication, while the 12-megapixel camera with an f/1.8-aperture wide-angle lens featured a new sensor and improved software algorithms for faster focusing and enhanced portraiture with depth control. Established iPhone gestures were supported, and haptic touch controls could be used to instantly launch the camera or flashlight from the home screen.

iPhone Xs and Xs Max

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone XS / XS Max IDG / Apple

Featuring 5.8- and 6.5-in. all-screen designs and improved scratch- and water-resistance, Apple's iPhone Xs and Xs Max both offered Super Retina OLED displays that supported Dolby Vision and HDR10 and had iOS system-wide color management; the Xs Max had the largest iPhone display to date, with more than 3 million pixels, and the biggest battery — promising up to an hour and a half more battery life than the iPhone X.

The 12-megapixel dual-camera system offered advanced depth segmentation in Portrait mode with the ability to adjust depth of field both in preview and post-capture for precise control in portrait creation; the system allowed for faster face tracking for Face ID, Memoji, and third-party ARKit apps. Low-light performance and image stabilisation were enhanced for both still photography and video capture, in addition to an extended dynamic range for better highlight and shadow detail. Four built-in mics could record stereo sound.

These models were the first to include Apple's A12 Bionic Chip with second-generation Neural Engine. The chip design was capable of completing up to 5 trillion operations per second (compared with 600 billion in its predecessor). Models in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB configurations started at $999 and $1,099 for the Xs and Xs Max, respectively.

iPhone 11

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 11 IDG / Apple

The iPhone 11, which succeeded 2018's iPhone XR, got a $50 price cut (to $699), a new color (purple), a redesigned two-camera system, and a number of under-the-hood technology upgrades. The screen is a 6.1-in. Liquid Retina HD display, storage comes in 64GB, 128GB or 256GB options, and the phone uses Apple's new A13 "Bionic" processor.

The camera system features an ultra-wide camera that captures more than four times the scenery and 4K video at up to 60 frames per second. It also features audio zoom, so if you zoom in on video, the audio does, too. The front-facing camera is a 12-megapixel model that allows for slow-motion selfies, which Apple dubbed "slofies." The camera system also offers a new "night mode" for better images in low-light conditions. According to Apple, the A13 bionic chip allows for an extra hour of use compared to the 2018 models.

iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 11 Pro / Pro Max IDG / Apple

The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max succeeded 2018's iPhone XS and XS Max, and started at $999. The phones come in four colors, including a new one (Midnight Green), and feature a wholly new three-camera system and a variety of under-the-hood technology upgrades. The screen is either a 5.8-in. or 6.5-in. Super Retina XDR display, storage cames in 64GB, 128GB or 256GB options, and the phone uses Apple's new A13 "Bionic" processor.

The camera system features an ultra-wide camera that captures more than four times the scenery and 4K video at up to 60 frames per second. It also features audio zoom, so if you zoom in on video, the audio does too. The front-facing camera is a 12-megapixel model that allows for slow-motion selfies, which Apple dubbed "slofies." The camera system offers a "night mode" for better images in low-light conditions.

According to Apple, the A13 bionic chip and the third-generation Neural Engine run more efficiently, allowing for up to four or five hours of additional use compared to the previous year's models.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments