Science & Technology

The iPhone through the ages

Just how much has it changed?

The iPhone has come a long way since Apple first introduced it back in 2007. That first iPhone could fit in the palm of your hand. Before the iPhone, a lot of people juggled various devices–iPods, digital cameras, “personal digital assistants” and of course their phones. The iPhone changed all that. Its popularity started a revolution in personal photography and photo apps that would eventually lead to the creation of Instagram.   

Over the past decade and a half, the iPhone has gone through many changes and upgrades and receiving re-designs to keep the appearance feeling brand new.      

Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, announced the iPhone 1 on January 9th, 2007 at the Macworld conference in San Francisco. “Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything,” the executive said. “Today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products of this class. The first one is a wide-screen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough internet communications device, an iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator. An iPod, a phone … are you getting it? These are not three separate devices: This is one device, and we are calling it iPhone.”

The phone didn’t come out until six months later due to complications. In truth, Apple only had a few dozen prototypes of the phone. Those prototypes were so fragile that they couldn’t withstand daily use. That’s when Apple rushed to turn Job’s prototype into a worldwide mass-produced phone that actually worked. When it finally hit stores in June, there were lineups everywhere. People stayed in line for hours just so they could get one. People still line up to get the latest iPhone to this day. That day Apple sold 1 million iPhones off that first faulty prototype back in 2007.

Did you know Apple didn’t come out with an iPhone 2? When Apple launched its second phone, Apple wanted to highlight the new ability that was added, which was 3G connectivity. Apple announced the iPhone 3G on June 9th, 2008. The iPhone 3G didn’t improve much from the original iPhone. The difference was that the 3G connection was three times faster.

Next came the iPhone 3GS. Apple released the 3GS a year later on June 19th, 2009. This was when Apple decided to add an S to the end of their phones. The S stands for speed and it reflected the improvements and upgrades the phone got. The connection was faster, you didn’t have to wait a long time for apps to load and the internet quality was the fastest it ever was.  When Apple introduced the App Store, things changed quickly for them. Between photos, videos, music, and apps, 16 GB just wasn’t enough, so they went from 16GB to 32 GB. The camera got an upgrade to 3 megapixels and Apple added voice control as well. 

2010’s iPhone 4 is where things drastically changed. It had a new look to it. The iPhone 3GS was big, bulky and was made out of plastic. The phone was round with rounded edges, whereas the iPhone 4 is flat and thin. It also has a metal band wrapped around the sides. The metal band was designed to improve reception and mobile data connection. This was the first phone to have a front-facing camera. With the front-facing camera being new and all, the trend of taking selfies started. It was so much easier to take pictures of yourself now that Apple decided to add a front-facing camera. The text, apps or webpages appeard thick and fuzzy in the 3GS  but the iPhone 4’s text is very clear compared to the 3GS. 

Apple swung back to the “S” for a minor upgrade. The iPhone 4S had more storage and better megapixels but the biggest addition may have been Siri, Apple’s AI assistant.

Dag Kittlaus along with Tom Gruber and Adam Cheyer created Siri, not Apple. Kittaluas wanted to name his daughter siri as it means “beautiful women who leads you to victory” in Norwegein but instead had a son. Years later when his speech technology recognition company launched, he secured the name Siri. Siri was then launched in the App store in 2010 and that was when Kittalaus got a phone call from Jobs. Apple eventually purchased Siri in 2010 for $2 million.      

Apple sold 5 million units of the iPhone 5 in its first week in 2012. The iPhone 5 was a major upgrade. The screen got its first size increase, going from a 3.5-inch display to 4 inches and adding an extra row of icons. It had LTE connectivity which made it faster than it was before and the RAM was now up to 1 GB.  Apple launched the iPhone 5C alongside the iPhone 5S in September 2013, selling a total of 9 million units in the first week. The iPhone 5C was meant to be more affordable but not much change for the iPhone 5C. The iPhone 5S on the other hand, had touch ID, dual flash and slow-motion video. 

We know what the S stands for but do we know what the C means? Some people say it stands for “cheap” because of the material Apple used on the 5C, which was plastic. Others say it stands for color. Apple came out with different colors for the phone which were green, blue, yellow, pink and white.  

September 19th, 2014 Apple released the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The iPhone 6’s specs were very similar to the iPhone 5S. But the 6 was huge with a 4.7 inch display.

The size and thinness of the 6 led to a problem: “Bendgate.” iPhone users found that if you were to have your phone in your back pocket and sit on it, you could see the bend in your phone and how much bend your phone had to it.     

On March 31st, 2016 the SE was introduced. People say it was introduced as a more affordable option and had all the same internal specs of the 6 but in a smaller package.

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus had a new shiny jet black color to it and a new dual camera. It has improved features like portrait mode, sound, battery life and it had a software update that let iPhone users take shots using Depth of Field. Then Apple decided to remove the headphone jack. You would usually get earbuds that plugged into the headphone jack, the lightning port or an adaptor.

There was a big controversy about removing the headphone jack. Some users didn’t understand why Apple made a bold move like that, others supported Apple and their decision. Dave Pell and Alex Wilhelm were just some of the few people who bashed Apple on their decision about the headphone jack and stated their opinions online.      

“Removing a headphone jack doesn’t take courage. But charging $159 for AirPods does,” tweeted Dave Pell, an investor, and iOS app developer, referring to the pricey new wireless headphones that Apple launched alongside the iPhone 7.

Alex Wilhelm editor in chief at Mattermark, which tracks tech start-ups, tweeted: “I wish I had the courage to be a super-rich white dude in Silicon Valley working as an exec for the most valuable company in the world” #brave.

iPhone owners noticed that if you wanted to listen to music and charge your phone at the same time you couldn’t. That’s when Apple came out with wireless Airpods, an option you had if you wanted to listen to music, watch videos or stream movies.   

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus were released on September 22nd, 2017. They both have a bigger and faster camera sensor. The 8 plus has a bigger, better and sharper screen than the 8. It also has a dual-lens camera, which gives you access to portrait mode(a photo setting that focuses on the main person in the photo, not the background. ) 

Apple never came out with an iPhone 9. They skipped the 9 and went straight to the X because the company wanted a new beginning for their product and company.   

November 3rd, 2017 was when the iPhone X came out.  Apple went with the X because it marked a decade since Apple released its first-ever phone. Apple added a new feature called face ID, but face ID isn’t automatic. At the top of the phone appears a little icon, which is a lock icon. Then you have to look at the phone, when the phone recognizes your face you will see an unlocked icon at the top. To finish unlocking your phone you will need to swipe up with your finger.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said the “iPhone is an essential part of our customers’ lives and today more than ever it is redefining the way we communicate, entertain, work and live … The best is yet to come.”


Image credit: Monica Hunter-Hart

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