The Evolution of the iPhone

Posted by Morgan Sims

So unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 6 years, you’ve been aware of (if not obsessed with) the constant evolution and improvements Apple has made to their groundbreaking mobile phones. But let’s break down the specific differences between each phone, and ooh and ahh over how grown up our little smartphone is today.

The Emergence of the iPhone

Released June 29, 2007, the first iPhone was the most anticipated gadget to hit the shelves in years. Crowds flocked by the hundreds to the thresholds of Apple stores across the world to get their hands on the tech giant's first mobile phone. This new device was notable for its large touchscreen designed solely for finger input.

Predecessors to the iPhone used a stylus, keyboard, or keypad with their touchscreens. The back of this first generation edition was made of aluminum, with black plastic accent throughout the rest of the body. The retail cost originally started at $499 with a two-year contract. The original iPhone was incapable of downloading third-party apps; the only apps available were the ones that came pre-installed on the phone.

Compared to recent models, the first generation iPhone did not sell all that quickly; only 270,000 iPhones sold in the first two days, and it took 74 days to hit one million. It featured a modest 2 MP camera, 412 MHZ processor, GSM connection with Edge support for data transfer, WiFi capability, and Bluetooth 2.0. It was only offered with four, eight, or sixteen gigabytes of storage. At the time it was the most advanced mobile phone in the world.

A Faster, Cheaper Version: iPhone 3G and 3GS

iPhone 3G

Image via Flickr by beve4

 

It wasn't long before consumers were demanding more, and Apple was ready to give it to them. On July 11, 2008, the iPhone 3G hit stores and once again Apple faithful and newcomers alike flocked to retailers to snatch it up, this time at a faster rate. More than one million sold during its first two days.

The most notable change the 3G added was GPS software and more advanced bluetooth options; faster connection and data transfer speeds; and the emergence of the App Store, which had more than 10,000 apps available for download. One year later, in June 2009, a better, faster edition came out:  the 3GS.

The 3GS released amid extreme anticipation, as the processor upped the ante with a 600 MHz processor, the camera jumped up to 3.2 MP with added autofocus, and was now available with much more storage; consumers now had the choice of 8, 16, or 32 GB of memory.

Bring on the Selfies, Oh, and Siri: iPhone 4 and 4S

 

Image by Flickr via Yutaka Tsutano

When the iPhone 4 hit the market in June of 2010, it came chock full of more than 100 brand new features. The most talked about of these features was the higher resolution screen (dubbed "Retina Display"), an upgraded 5 MP HD camera and video system that now included flash, improved rotation sensitivity, a larger screen, and an angular, thinner body -- 24 percent thinner, to be exact.

And let's not forget the first ever front-facing camera. Selfies were about to go to the next level. The front-facing camera allowed for the iPhone's newest perk:  FaceTime. It's worth noting that up to this point, the pricing and memory choices hadn't changed since the 3G: $199 for 8GB, $299 for 16 GB, $399 for 32 GB.

In true Apple fashion, the fine-tuned answer to the 4 was released one year later, in October of 2011: the iPhone 4S. This time Apple had really stepped up its game by adding a double processor, doubling the connection speed, and ramping the camera up to 8 MP, and cranking up the video capabilities to 1080p. This brought it up to par with most digital cameras on the market.

Possibly the coolest thing about this new version was the price. Apple took the storage up a notch without changing price. The cost became $199 for 16 GB, $299 for 32, and $399 for the first time available 64 GB. Consumers also looked forward to the introduction of Siri, the personal assistant software now available for iOS devices.

The 4S was the biggest selling version of the iPhone yet, selling an astonishing 4 million devices in its first weekend. Even though every major component of the phone had been upgraded, critics were not impressed. They wanted the iPhone 5, and they wanted it yesterday.

Finally. The iPhone 5

 

Image via Flickr by Sean MacEntee

Amid a flurry of media attention, rumors, and hype, the iPhone 5 was released in September 2012. The iconic size and shape was changed, featuring a taller, leaner version of the iPhone we know and love. It met with severe enthusiasm, selling out twenty times faster than the 4 and 4S models. The possibilities are endless with this new phone, and mobile carriers are adding to that flexibility, especially by allowing "bring your own phone" policies, like on T-Mobile sim card iPhone.

Up to this point, all iPhones sported a 3.5 inch screen. The iPhone 5's screen was increased to 4 inches tall, and, thanks to Apple's new "A6" chip, has a processing speed twice of that which graced the 4S. Virtually everything about the latest edition of the iPhone is smarter:  clearer screen resolution, faster processing speed, increased front-facing camera resolution, and stronger Bluetooth connection.

The camera also allows users to take photos while simultaneously shooting video, which was a highly anticipated feature. This version is also the first of any iPhone to feature 4G-LTE connectivity, which accommodates for speeds that match those found on home internet connections.

Coming Soon to an Apple Store Near You…

Image via Flickr by gilipollastv

Announced on September 10th, the new iPhone 5S and 5C models continue Apple’s tradition of iterative releases for their flagship mobile product. The 5S improves on last year’s 5 model with the faster A7 processor, better camera functionality and a unique fingerprint identification system designed to open the lock screen. The 5S will come in shuttle grey, white and gold. The 5C is a brand new direction for Apple as it’s the first time the company has embraced a new, lower tiered iteration. The 5C ditches the trademark iPhone aluminum exterior in favor of a plastic shell. In terms of specs, it is for the most part identical to the iPhone 5. The 5C will also come in a variety of bright colors, a refreshing change of pace from previous models. All units will also come pre-installed with the fully redesigned iOS 7, which will be released on September 18th.

The iPhone 5S and 5C phones will hit retail stores on September 20th starting respectively at $199 and $99 on contract.