iPhone evolution, release timeline and memorable moments

Apple's iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are now available online and in Apple stores. Here's a look back at the evolution of the consumer smartphone that started it all, along with release dates for every iPhone and key turning points along the way.

01 iphone evolution
Credit: Apple/Thinkstock
Evolution of Apple's iconic iPhone: 2007 to 2016

Earlier this month, Apple announced its latest iPhone models: The top-of-the-line iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The following slides offer a high-level look at the evolution of Apple's now industry-standard smartphone, along with a timeline of notable events, early sales numbers for each model and technical specifications that set them apart from their predecessors.

(Editor's note: This slide show was updated on Sept. 28, 2016, to include additional information on the iPhone 5s, 5c, 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, SE, 7 and 7 Plus.)

Credit: Apple
The original iPhone — The smartphone that started a revolution

Announced: Jan. 9, 2007

Released in United States: June 29, 2007

Notable Specs: First iOS device; 2MP camera; 3.5-inch display; quad-band GSM (EDGE) radio; Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), and Bluetooth 2.0.

Notable Steve Jobs Moment: While announcing the first iPhone, Apple CEO Steve Jobs prank called a nearby San Francisco Starbucks and ordered 4,000 lattes to go—a prank that would haunt that Starbucks store for years.

Sales: Apple said it sold its first million iPhones in 74 days.

Apple iPhone 3G - iPhone Gets 3G Radio
Credit: Apple
Apple iPhone 3G — iPhone gets 3G radio

Announced: June 9, 2008

Released: July 11, 2008

Notable Specs: GPS; Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync support; quad-band GSM and tri-band HSDPA 3G radios; 2MP camera, and App Store for mobile applications.

Notable iPhone 3G Fact: The second-generation iPhone was released to many more countries and locales than the initial iPhone, which was only released in North American and the European Union, bringing iOS to a whole new set of countries and making countless new Apple customers.

Sales: Apple said it sold 1 million iPhone 3G devices in the three days following its launch.

Apple iPhone 3GS - iOS Gets Cut & Paste
Credit: Apple
Apple iPhone 3GS — iOS gets cut and paste

Announced: June 8, 2009

Released: June 19, 2009

Notable Specs: 3MP camera with video recording; max storage of 32GB; new voice-control features; compass; Internet tethering; and built-in Nike+ integration.

Notable iPhone 3GS Fact: The first two versions of the iPhone packed tons of unique and innovative features but they were frequently criticized for lacking some very basic functionality: Cut, copy and paste. The iPhone 3GS, which ran iOS 3.0, was the first iPhone to get these features, along with the first iOS landscape keyboard.

Sales: Apple said it sold 1 million iPhone 3G devices in the three days following its launch.

Apple iPhone 4 - Face to Face with FaceTime
Credit: Apple
Apple iPhone 4 — Face to face with FaceTime

Announced: June 7, 2010

Released: June 24, 2010

Notable Specs: Front-facing camera for FaceTime video calling; 5MP rear-facing camera; 3.5-inch "Retina" display (960 x 640 pixels), and Apple A4 processor.

Notable iPhone 4 fact: A day before the official release, Apple announced that its white iPhone 4 would be delayed a month, because the devices had "proven more challenging to manufacture than expected." iPhone 4 was also the first Apple device with a high-resolution "Retina" display.

Sales: Apple said it sold 1.7 million iPhone 4 devices in the three days following its launch.

Apple iPhone 4S - Say Hello to 'Siri'
Credit: Apple
Apple iPhone 4s — Say hello to 'Siri'

Announced: Oct. 4, 2011

Released: Oct. 14, 2011

Notable Specs: Apple's dual-core A5 processor; 8MP camera with 1080p video recording, and world phone with GSM, HSPA and CDMA radios.

Notable iPhone 4S fact: iOS 5 launched along with the iPhone 4S, bringing the first iCloud service to iOS users. Voice-controlled virtual assistant "Siri" also made her debut on the iPhone 4S.

Sales: Apple said it sold 4 million iPhone 4S devices in the three days following its launch.

Apple iPhone 5 - The First 'Retina' Display
Credit: Apple
Apple iPhone 5 — The first 'Retina' display

Announced: Sept. 12, 2012

Released: Sept. 21, 2012 in the United States

Notable specs: 4-inch "Retina" display; Apple A6 processor; 4G LTE support; 8MP camera, and new, proprietary Apple "Lightning" port.

Notable iPhone 5 fact: The iPhone 5 was the first iPhone with a display larger than 3.5 inches.

Sales: Apple said it sold 5 million iPhone 5 devices in the three days following its launch.

08 apple iphone 5s
Credit: REUTERS/Kim Kyung Hoon
Apple iPhone 5s — TouchID with the swipe of a finger

Announced: Sept. 10, 2013.

Release: Sept. 20, 2013, in the United States.

Notable specs: Apple A7 chip with 64-bit processor core; Touch ID fingerprint sensor and support for wide array of 4G LTE bands.

Notable iPhone 5s fact: The iPhone 5s introduced what is now one of Apple's most compelling features: Touch ID. The finger-based authentication system would evolve to not only unlock an iPhone, but securely authorize online payments, as well as in-store payments via Apple Pay, and access secure applications, such as banking apps and password managers. 

Sales: Apple said it sold 9 million new iPhone 5s and 5c devices during the three days following its Sept. 20 launch.

09 iphone 5c boxes colors
Credit: REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Apple iPhone 5c — iPhone gets a color bath

Announced: Sept. 10, 2013.

Release: Sept. 20, 2013, in the United States.

Notable Specs: Colorful casing with internal frame made of reinforced steel; Apple A6 processor; support for wide array of 4G LTE bands.

Notable iPhone 5c fact: With the iPhone 5c, Apple honed in on a new target demographic: mid-range consumers who valued fun, colorful looks and affordability over top-of-the-line tech specs. Though the brightly colored body would eventually be phased out in favor of the iPhone SE's iPhone-5-like design, the iPhone 5c was the most colorful iPhone to date. Before the iPhone 7, it was the only iPhone to come in five different color options: blue, green, pink, yellow and white. 

Sales: Three days after its iPhone 5s and 5c launch, Apple said it sold 9 million new devices. It did not break out sales numbers for the different device models.

10 apple iphone 6
Credit: REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Apple iPhone 6 — Apple Pay bring mobile payments to the masses

Announced: Sept. 9, 2014.

Released: Sept. 19, 2014, in the United States. 

Notable Specs: Apple's A8 chip with second-generation 64-bit desktop-class architecture; Apple Pay support; 4.7-inch Retina HD display with 1334 x 750 resolution; M8 motion coprocessor that collects motion data from an accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and barometer; support for voice calls over LTE (VoLTE), Wi-Fi calling (dependent on carrier availability), and up to 20 LTE wireless bands; up to 128GB of storage.

Notable iPhone 6 fact: iPhone 6 was the first Apple phone to feature the less-boxy, rounder form factor that's still largely in use in 2016 with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

Sales: Three days after the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch, Apple said it sold more than 10 million new devices. It did not break out sales numbers for the different device models.

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Credit: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Apple iPhone 6 Plus — Apple's first 'phablet'

Announced: Sept. 9, 2014.

Released: Sept. 19, 2014, in the United States. 

Notable Specs: Apple's A8 chip with second-generation 64-bit desktop-class architecture; Apple Pay support; 5.5-inch Retina HD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution; M8 motion coprocessor collected motion data from an accelerometer, gyroscope, compass and barometer; support for voice calls over LTE (VoLTE), Wi-Fi calling (dependent on carrier availability) and up to 20 LTE wireless bands; up to 128GB of storage.

Notable iPhone 6 Plus facts: In 2010, Apple cofounder Steve Jobs said during an Apple press conference that "no one's going to buy" a big phone "you can't get your hand around." Jobs proved prescient in many cases, but that wasn't one of them. The first Apple "phablet" was popular, though it did suffer some early challenges, namely "bendgate."

Sales: Three days after the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch, Apple said it sold more than 10 million new devices. It did not break out sales numbers for the different device models.

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Credit: REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
Apple iPhone 6s — a familiar design in a brand new color

Announced: Sept. 9, 2015.

Released: Sept. 25, 2015, in the United States.

Notable Specs: Apple's A9 chip with third-generation 64-bit desktop-class architecture; 7000 series aluminum body, or "the same alloy used in the aerospace industry," according to Apple; same 4.7-inch Retina HD display with 1334 x 750 resolution as iPhone 6; pressure sensitive display and new "3D Touch" features; camera support for 4K HD video, with resolution up to 3840 x 2160; support for up to 23 LTE bands.

Notable iPhone 6s fact: The iPhone 6s looked identical to the iPhone 6, but it came in a flashy new "rose gold" option that proved popular among both female and male customers.

Sales: Three days after the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus launch, Apple said it sold more than 13 million new devices. It did not break out sales numbers for the different device models.

13 apple iphone 6s plus
Credit: REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
Apple iPhone 6s Plus — a refined phablet

Announced: Sept. 9, 2015.

Released: Sept. 25, 2015, in the United States.

Notable Specs: Apple's A9 chip with third-generation 64-bit desktop-class architecture; 7000 series aluminum body, or "the same alloy used in the aerospace industry," according to Apple; same 5.5-inch Retina HD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution as iPhone 6 Plus; pressure sensitive display and new "3D Touch" features; camera support for 4K HD video, with resolution up to 3840 x 2160; support for up to 23 LTE bands.

Notable iPhone 6s Plus facts: Besides the obvious size and weight differences between the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, the larger phone also had an optical image stabilization (OIS) camera feature not found in the smaller iPhone 6s. The phablet also didn't experience the same screen durability issues as the iPhone 6 Plus. And it was available in rose gold.

Sales: Three days after the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus launch, Apple said it sold more than 13 million new devices. It did not break out sales numbers for the different device models.

apple iphone se
Credit: REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Apple iPhone SE — iPhone 5 on the outside, iPhone 6s inside

Announced: March 21, 2016.

Released: March 31, 2016.

Notable Specs: Same 64-bit A9 chip as in iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus; 4-inch Retina display; camera can capture 4K HD video at a resolution of 3840 x 2160; M9 motion co-processor; support for VoLTE and Wi-Fi calling (carrier dependent); up to 64GB of storage; and Apple Pay support for Touch ID.

Notable iPhone SE facts: Apple quietly replaced the mid-range iPhone 5c with the iPhone SE and its familiar form factor, which was nearly identicial to the iPhone 5 and 5s design. The phone had many of the same internal componets as the larger, pricier iPhone 6s and 6s Plus devices, with the notable exception of 3D Touch.

Sales: Apple didn't officially announce initial iPhone SE sales numbers.

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Credit: REUTERS/Edgar Su
Apple iPhone 7 — black is the new rose gold

Announced: Sept. 7, 2016.

Released: Sept. 16, 2016, in the United States. 

Notable Specs: Apple A10 Fusion chip; "brighter" 4.7-inch display, with 1334 x 750 resolution; new low-light camera; enhanced stereo speakers; IP67 water and dust resistance; 7MP front-facing camera; Quad-LED True Tone flash; support for up to 25 LTE bands; new, "fixed" home button; up to 256GB storage.

Notable iPhone 7 facts: Both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus come in two new black color options: a shiny "jet black" and an anodized matte black. The two devices are also the first iPhones without standard audio ports. The iPhone 7s use Apple's Lightning port for audio. However, Apple included a 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter with every new iPhone.

Sales: Apple chose not to release iPhone 7 sales numbers.

15 apple iphone 7 plus
Credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed
Apple iPhone 7 Plus — An advanced telephoto camera

Announced: Sept. 7, 2016.

Released: Sept. 16, 2016, in the United States.

Notable specs: Apple A10 Fusion chip; "brighter" 5.5-inch Retina HD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution; new low-light camera; additional 12MP telephoto camera that offers advanced optical and digital zoom options; enhanced stereo speakers; IP67 water and dust resistance; 7MP front-facing camera; Quad-LED True Tone flash; support for up to 25 LTE bands; new, "fixed" home button; up to 256GB storage. 

Notable iPhone 7 facts: The iPhone 7 Plus has a more advanced camera than the iPhone 7. The larger phone has an additional telephoto camera lens that allows for twice the level of optical zoom for photos and 10 times digital zoom as the smaller iPhone 7. The larger iPhone's camera will also receive a software update in the future to enable a new "portrait mode" that blurs the background of certain images.

Sales: Apple chose not to release iPhone 7 sales numbers.