As regularly as clockwork, Apple has unveiled a brand new iPhone for the last nine years running. It first revolutionized the smartphone market, both in terms of features and design, and each subsequent arrival has seen standards and expectations pushed further than ever before.
It’s argued that Samsung produce better, more capable phones, but they never generate the hype of an Apple product and probably never will. Apple’s products are just “cooler.” It’s hard to explain why that is in the same way that it’s hard to explain exactly what “cool” is – you just know it when you see it. What’s for certain is that Apple’s dedication to crafting such beautiful devices that work as simply and effortlessly as possible has created some of the most memorable designs of modern times.
To celebrate those achievements, here’s an illustrated history of the design of the Apple iPhone.
It’s difficult to overstate the impact the original iPhone has had on the mobile phone market. A standard smartphone keypad, like those seen on the Blackberry before it, was shunned in favor of a touchscreen and advanced computer-like capabilities. “Apple is going to reinvent the phone,” said Steve Jobs – he was right, but it still had no third-party apps, no GPS and no video recording.
iPhone 3G (2008)
Another feature missing on the original iPhone was 3G support. Although it has since become redundant following the creation of high-speed 4G and 4G LTE networks, it was the top data speed of the time and was seen as a huge development when it appeared on the iPhone 3G. That addition, along with the launch of the App Store, was the moment at which people started to understand the long-term potential of the device. It was a true watershed moment in smartphone history.
iPhone 4 (2010)
Apple’s first major redesign of the iPhone came on the iPhone 4 and featured a combination of stainless steel and glass. It had a more modern, sleeker look, and the pixel count was greatly increased while keeping the same 3.5-inch display size, significantly improving the user experience while looking at the screen. It was also the first iPhone with a front-facing camera and the first with some level of multitasking,
iPhone 5 (2012)
The iPhone 5 was yet another major upgrade and another commercial success. It added an extra row of icons with an extra-tall screen, introduced the Lightning connector and had a lighter, aluminum design. In terms of new features, we got our first look at Apple Maps – a rather buggy first edition after which it never fully recovered its reputation.
iPhone 6 (2014)
The iPhone 6 extended the display size to 4.7 inches and added in more pixels to boot – noticeably improving both the design and display quality. NFC for Apple Pay was introduced and there were also a significant upgrade for the camera, giving better photo and video results than ever before and cementing the iPhone’s place not just in the phone market, but the camera one too.
iPhone 6 Plus (2014)
Apple finally gave in to the temptation to follow the industry trend for bigger smartphone screens and unveiled the iPhone 6 Plus. With a display of 5.5 inches from corner to corner, it was the biggest iPhone ever produced and also included optical image stabilization on its 8-megapixel camera.
iPhone 7 (2016)
The latest iPhone, the iPhone 7, is undoubtedly just as beautiful as its predecessors with the same iconic curved design. Antenna lines were removed for a sleeker finish, and the headphone jack was killed to make way for “bigger, brighter displays, larger batteries, stereo speakers, and faster processors.” It’s also water and dust resistant and available in the new colors of “Jet Black” and “Matte Black.”
iPhone 7 Plus (2016)
Apple continued the trend of including a higher-performance camera on the Plus model by including an incredible dual camera system featuring one 12-megapixel telephoto lens and one 12-megapixel wide-angle lens. A free update later in the year will also allow users to blur the background using both lenses to judge distance and create a bokeh effect, pushing the iPhone closer to a dSLR than ever before.
Haven’t decided whether or not to buy the iPhone 7 yet? Here’s why you should wait another year and buy the 8.