The Evolution of Apple's iPhone

As Apple prepares to launch new iPhones, it's important to look at how the now-iconic device has matured since its arrival in 2007.

The Evolution of Apple's iPhone
Credit: Computerworld / Apple
The iPhone, then and now
Apple's iPhone, first generation
Credit: Computerworld / Apple
First iPhone

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 here.]

Apple's iPhone 3G
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iPhone 3G

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 here.]

 

Apple's iPhone 3GS
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iPhone 3GS

Again at WWDC, Apple 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 here.]

 

Apple's iPhone 4
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iPhone 4

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 here.]

 

Apple's iPhone 4S
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iPhone 4S

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 here.]

 

Apple's iPhone 5
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iPhone 5

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 here.]

 

Apple's iPhone 5C and 5S
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iPhone 5S and 5C

Last Sept. 10, 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 here.]

 

Apple iPhone 6 speculation
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What's next?

The new iPhone is expected to arrive in two sizes: one sporting a 4.7-in. screen, the other, with a 5.5-in. screen. Hardware specs and prices are unknown, though the larger iPhone is expected to cost more than the smaller version. Both iPhone 6 models are expected to support NFC technology, turning them into digital wallets for purchases.