15 Years of iPhone: A Deep Dive into the Evolution of Apple’s Original Phone

Those who have it are always looking for an upgrade. Those who don’t have it secretly desire one. For the Apple geek, owning an iPhone is everything. In a nutshell, it is the proverbial ‘apple of their eye’. Fifteen years ago, Steve Jobs launched what has come to be one of the most iconic and revolutionary pieces of consumer technology. Standing on the stage at the Macworld Conference at Moscone West, San Francisco, on January 9, 2007, Jobs introduced to the world the original iPhone that he touted as a “widescreen iPod with touch controls”, a “revolutionary mobile phone”, and a “breakthrough Internet communicator”.

The phone that he held up for everyone to see had a 3.5-inch LCD display with a 480×320 pixels resolution, a thick frame, a physical home button, a Samsung processor, and a 2-megapixel camera. Sounds basic, but back then, it was unlike anything available in the market.

In what is dubbed as his most memorable Apple keynote, Jobs had said, “An iPod, a phone, and internet communicator. An iPod, a phone, are you getting it? iPhone is a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any mobile phone”. And boy, was he right!

Jobs had also said, “We are all born with the ultimate pointing device — our fingers — and iPhone uses them to create the most revolutionary user interface since the mouse.”

As the iPhone ages, we take a look at how the now-iconic device has matured since its arrival.

iPhone: The phone was released on June 29, 2007. Initially, it was priced at $499 (roughly Rs. 37,000 today) for the 4GB model, while the 8GB version cost $599 (roughly Rs. 44,000 today).

iPhone 3G: A year later, on July 11, 2008, iPhone 3G was launched. In the US, it was priced at $599 roughly Rs. 44,000 today). Its key features were faster Internet access, GPS navigation facility, among others.

iPhone 3GS: Released on June 19, 2009, the phone gave users a 32GB storage system. The camera was upgraded to 3-megapixel, which allowed video recording at 30fps. Users could also send photos and voice recordings through messages. It was available in 3 models — 8GB, 16GB, 32GB.

iPhone 4: The phone was launched on June 24, 2010, and was the first to have a front-facing camera. It marked the arrival of the FaceTime video chat. The phone also had a high-resolution retina display and 512MB of memory.

iPhone 4S: This phone was a major leap from the earlier version. Launched on October 14, 2011, the camera was upgraded to a staggering 8-megapixel and storage space increased to 64 GB. The phone was launched in the US with a retail price of $649.

iPhone 5: About 11 months after the launch of the iPhone 4S, on September 21, 2012, Apple launched iPhone 5. It was the first version to have a 4-inch screen, and the memory was boosted to 1GB.

iPhone 5S & 5C: Both phones were launched on September 20, 2013. The iPhone 5C came in 4 different colours, making it one of its USP. As for the iPhone 5s, it had features such as dual flash, slow-motion video, etc.

iPhone 6 & 6 Plus: These phones were released on September 19, 2014. The main change here from the previous version was the introduction of a larger screen. While iPhone 6 had a 4.7-inch screen, iPhone 6 Plus had a 5.5-inch screen.

iPhone 6S & 6S Plus: These 2 models were launched on September 19, 2015, and had meaty upgrades compared to the previous versions. In the iPhone 6s, the camera was upgraded to 12-megapixel from the earlier 8M-megapixel and the memory increased from 1GB to 2GB. These phones also had 3D Touch features.

iPhone SE: This model was introduced as an affordable alternative to the earlier version on March 31, 2016. It was smaller and didn’t have the 3D Touch option.

iPhone 7 & 7 Plus: Launched on September 16, 2016, both these models had improved cameras with an impressive zoom. The release of these phones also heralded the end of the 16GB model. These phones began at 32GB of storage and went all the way up to 256GB.

iPhone 8 & 8 Plus: These phones were released on September 22, 2017, and introduced users to wireless charging. The phones also had glass and aluminium enclosures. The camera had new editing features.

iPhone X: The 13th generation iPhone X was released on November 3, 2017. It had another front-facing camera. The portrait mode, too, was enhanced, changing the way photographs were taken.

iPhone XS, XS Max: The iPhone XS and XS Max were released on September 21, 2018. These phones had a front-facing camera identical to the iPhone X, allowing for better selfies. The A12 Bionic chip, which increased processing power while maintaining the phone’s battery life, was a major development.

iPhone XR: In comparison to the XS and XS Max, this was the more economical option. This phone, which was released on October 26, 2018, had a Liquid Retina HD display, a front-facing camera, and more colour options than the iPhone XS and XS Max.

iPhone 11, Pro, Pro Max: All 3 models were launched on September 20, 2019. iPhone 11 had a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina display and a second 12 MP camera on the back of the model. This camera, too, had multiple wide and ultra-wide lenses. The iPhone 11 Pro had three 12 MP HDR camera lenses. Finally, iPhone 11 Pro Max was the largest and priciest model that year. It had a Super Retina XDR display and three lenses.

iPhone 12, Mini, Pro, Pro Max: Launched on November 13, 2020, the home screen of these phones had more customisation options with widgets. Users could also watch videos or use FaceTime while doing something else.

iPhone 13, Mini, Pro, Pro Max: These models were launched on September 24, 2021. They had big camera improvements, higher storage capacity, battery supporting hours of non-stop video playback, among others.

Here are some of the Twitter reactions on iPhone’s completing 15 years:

Greg Joswiak, the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Apple, shared a clip from Jobs’s 2007 iPhone announcement.

Tony Fadell, who worked directly on the iPhone, asked an interesting question.

Ken Kocienda, who designed the keyboard for the iPhone 2G, tweeted about the “big secret” they had been keeping.

Now, 15 years later, Apple is gearing up to launch the iPhone 14.

This week on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, we discuss iPhone 13, new iPad and iPad mini, and Apple Watch Series 7 — and what they mean to the Indian market. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

Catch the latest from the Consumer Electronics Show on Gadgets 360, at our CES 2022 hub.

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