More than 15 years ago, Apple released the first iPhone, which changed the mobile industry forever. With a wide touchscreen and no physical keyboard, the iPhone maker has set the path for many smartphone manufacturers.
Since then, the iPhone’s evolution has been impressive over the years. The iPhone has changed and shaped our lives in so many ways. With just one device, we are able to do lots of tasks that are so essential to us.
Did you know there’re no iPhone 2 and iPhone 9? Right after the first iPhone came out, HTC launched the G1, which was 3G. So there was no point for Apple to release an iPhone 2. The company skipped number 2 and released the iPhone 3G. What about number 9? For the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple skipped number 9 to release the iPhone X (pronounced ten).
Throughout the years, the Cupertino, California-based company has released over 20 iPhones. Here’s a complete guide to the evolution of the iPhone, starting from the original iPhone to the latest model.
iPhone Evolution: A Visual History
Original iPhone (January 9, 2007)
After months of hype and endless speculations, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone on January 9, 2007. The original iPhone was a game-changer in the mobile industry and was released on June 29, 2007, to the public.
They made it out of aluminum and black plastic wrap and featured a 3.5-inch display and a 2MP rear camera. The first generation iPhone came with 4, 8, and 16GB of storage and was powered by a 1,400mAh battery.
The device gave us access to the internet, with a multi-touch screen. It had a light ambient sensor to adjust the brightness according to your needs.
They also added a proximity sensor that turns off the screen when the phone is brought near the face during a call. Apple cut a deal with AT&T, which made it the exclusive U.S. operator for the original iPhone. Apple sold over 6 million units.
Pricing: $499 for 4GB, $599 for 8GB
iPhone 3G (June 9, 2008)
The iPhone 3G was the second generation of the iPhone. There was not much change compared to the original iPhone. It combined iPod, mobile phone, and internet functionality.
The only big difference was 3G (UMTS/HSDPA – 850, 1900, 2100 MHz, 3.6 Mbps) support and GPS assisted with Global Positioning System. Jobs said, “Location services is going to be a big deal on the iPhone.”
The phone came in two storage options, 8GB and 16 GB. There was no CDMA model since the iPhone was only available on AT&T. Therefore, there were no options for Sprint and Verizon.
The iPhone 3G was thicker than its predecessor, and Apple changed the aluminum case for a black or white polycarbonate. They introduced the App Store this year, and the company sold about a million units in the first weekend.
Pricing: $199 for 8GB, $299 for 16GB
iPhone 3GS (September 8, 2009)
The iPhone 3 GS looked identical to the iPhone 3G, with the same design and 3.5 inches display. However, when it comes to specs, it had several updates.
It featured an improved camera with a 3MP with video recording at 30 FPS and autofocus. They added a digital compass and voice control support.
The major difference was the speed, as “S” stands for speed. It was twice faster than its predecessor, with upgraded RAM from 128 MB to 256 MB.
They added 32GB storage capacity. Similarly to the iPhone 3GS, Apple sold one million units on the first weekend.
Original price: $99 for 8GB, $199 for 32GB, $299 for 32GB
iPhone 4 (June 24, 2010)
As the slogan says, they changed everything with the iPhone 4. Apple totally redesigned it with an all-stainless steel design. The iPhone 4 was the first to have dual cameras, a front-facing camera with VGA resolution for video calling, and an upgraded 5 MP rear camera with a LED flash.
They introduced FaceTime this year, allowing people to connect to each other not only through audio but also through video. The display got a major improvement; it went from 480×320 to 960×640 (Retina Display).
They integrated mobile and data antennas into the metal band around the frame. Apple added a three-axis gyroscope to give more precision control. The RAM was increased to 512MB, but the storage stayed the same, up to 32GB.
An Apple engineer lost a prototype in a Silicon Valley bar, which caused leaks of photos of the new iPhone. AT&T was no longer iPhone’s exclusive carrier as Verizon joined the party. Apple sold one million units in the first weekend.
Original price: $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB
iPhone 4S (October 14, 2011)
Well, 2011 was probably the saddest day for the company since its co-founder, Steve Jobs, passed away. Tim Cook, Apple’s former logistics chief, took over and introduced the iPhone 4S.
The major update was the integration of Siri, the new Apple voice assistant. The rear camera got a big upgrade, bumped to 8MP. However, the front-facing camera remained the same.
They improved the mobile and data antenna placement, so it could switch automatically between send and receive. The memory RAM stayed the same, but they upgraded the storage to 64GB.
Apple added a new A5 dual-core processor, and it supported both GSM and CDMA. Sprint finally got the rights to offer the iPhone 4S. Apple sold around 60 million units.
Original price: 16GB: $199, 32GB: $299, and 64GB: $399.
iPhone 5 (September 21, 2012)
We got three big changes with the iPhone 5: a bigger display, 4G/LTE support, Lightning Port. All the previous iPhone models had a 3.5 inches display, and the iPhone 5 came with a 4 inches display.
They introduced the lightning port with the iPhone 5, which is much smaller than the 30-pin dock connector. With LTE Connection, the internet experience was much better. They added a smaller SIM card (NanoSIM).
Powered by a 1.3 GHz dual-core “Apple A6” processor and 1 GB of RAM, the iPhone 5 was way faster than the iPhone 4S. Pricing remains the same as the iPhone 4S. The company sold 5 million units in the first weekend.
Pricing: 16GB: $199, 32GB: $299, and 64GB for $399.
iPhone 5S / 5C (September 20, 2013)
With the iPhone 5S, we got four major changes. We got Touch ID built into the home button, Slow motion video, Dual flash, and Motion co-processor.
It was available in 3 different colors: space gray, gold, and silver. For the first time, Apple released two iPhones simultaneously.
The iPhone 5C, a less premium mode, was more affordable. It had no fingerprint scanner, no slow motion, and no coprocessor.
It came in 5 colors: white, pink, yellow, blue, or green, and housed with a polycarbonate unibody case. Apple sold 9 million units in the first weekend. (both models)
Pricing: $99 for 16GB (iPhone 5C model), $199 for 16GB (iPhone 5S model)
iPhone 6 / 6 Plus (September 19, 2014)
Apple added the first iPhone Plus in its series. The iPhone 6 has the same features as the iPhone 5S. The only big difference was a bigger screen. With the iPhone 6, we got a 4.7-inch display and an even bigger screen with the 6 Plus (5.5 inches).
Optical image stabilization (only 6 Plus) and Retina HD display were new features added to the iPhone.
Both models also feature built-in NFC functionality that allows users to make payments (Apple Pay) with their phones across many stores in the U.S.
Apple added a 128GB storage option only for the 6 Plus. Milestone: They sold 10 million units in the first weekend.
iPhone 6S / 6S Plus (September 25, 2015)
The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus have the same design as their predecessors but different specs. They increased the memory up to 2GB.
The camera got a major boost; it went from 8 MP to 12 MP with 4K video support. The front-facing camera now has a flash to illuminate your selfies.
They introduced live photos. Both models sport an A9 processor, which is much faster than the A8 found in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
They added a new feature, 3-D touch capabilities that recognize force gestures. The body was reinforced with 7000k aluminum because of bending issues (Bendgate) reported with the iPhone 6 & 6 Plus. Milestone: They sold 13 million units in the first weekend.
iPhone SE / iPhone 7 / iPhone 7 Plus (September 7, 2016)
The iPhone SE (Special Edition) has the same design as the iPhone 5s. However, it has the same specs as the iPhone 6S but without Touch ID. The idea was a smaller phone with the specs of a high-end flagship.
Apple introduced a double camera system with the iPhone 7 Plus allowing to take portrait mode photos. They replaced the mechanical home button with a “Taptic Engine” home button, which produces physical feedback when you press it.
Apple officially killed the headphone jack with the iPhone 7/7S, a controversial move, and AirPods were introduced as the new Bluetooth earphones. Apple finally dropped the 16GB base model (it was about time).
iPhone 8 / 8 Plus / iPhone X (September 12, 2017)
On Sept 12th, Apple introduced different products, among them three iPhones: iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.
Glasses and aluminum enclosures are returned on all models to make wireless charging possible. The iPhone 8 and 8Plus feature the same specs as the iPhone X, except Face ID.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple has delivered its most expensive iPhone yet. It includes wireless charging, edge-to-edge Super Retina display, and 3D-facial recognition, which replaced Touch ID.
Pricing: $999 for the iPhone X 64GB, $1149 for iPhone X 256GB
iPhone XS / XS Max (September 12, 2018), iPhone XR (October 26, 2018)
Like the Apple Event 2017, on Wednesday, Sept 12th, Tim Cook took the stage to unveil three new iPhones: iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR.
There is only one major difference between the iPhone XS and the iPhone X released last year: it runs on Apple’s A12 Bionic chip. The smartest and most powerful chip in a smartphone, according to Apple.
iPhone XS Max has a larger display than the usual Plus model but with the same body. It has a 6.5-inch the largest display on a smartphone, bigger than the Note 9.
There’s a lower-end iPhone, the XR, with a larger display (6.1-inch) than the XS but features an LCD screen instead of OLED. It has a single 12MP wide-angle camera, a 7MP front-facing camera, and the A12 Bionic chip. It comes in a variety of colorful finishes, blue, yellow, red, black, white, and coral.
iPhone 11 / 11 Pro / 11 Pro Max (September 10, 2019)
Apple took a similar approach to last year and announced three new iPhones on Sept 10th: the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max.
As a successor to the iPhone XR, the iPhone 11 offers a 6.1-inch LCD screen, Apple’s latest A13 Bionic chip, 64GB of storage, and 4GB of RAM.
On the back of the phone, there’s a new 12MP dual-lens camera system (wide and ultra-wide angle) for wider and more detailed shots.
The front-facing camera was bumped to 12MP and can take “slofies” or slow-motion selfies using the slow-motion video option available in the settings.
The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max come with a 5.8-inch and 6.5-inch OLED, respectively. Unlike the iPhone 11, both phones come with a triple rear camera system, which can record 4K video at 60 fps.
In addition to featuring the same A13 Bionic chip, they come with 64, 256, or 512GB of storage paired with 4GB of RAM.
iPhone SE (April 15, 2020)
The iPhone SE 2 was released in 2020, four years after the debut of the original iPhone SE.
This model carried the A13 Bionic chip, akin to the iPhone 11 series, but retained the design of the iPhone 8, including its 4.7-inch display and the Home button with Touch ID, foregoing the notch and Face ID found in other contemporary iPhones.
The iPhone SE 2 has an IP67 water-resistance rating, a step down from the IP68 of Apple’s flagships. However, even with its older design, it did not reintroduce the 3.5mm headphone jack.
A notable feature of the new SE, like its predecessor, is offering modern specifications at an affordable price, beginning at $399.
iPhone 12 Series (October 13, 2020)
The iPhone 12 design echoes the flat-edged style of the iPhone 4 from 2010. This series introduced four models: iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
The iPhone 12 mini, though compact with a 5.4-inch display, maintained the full-screen design consistent with other models.
Key highlights of the series included OLED screen, 5G support, the introduction of MagSafe magnetic wireless charging, distinctions between camera setups (dual cameras for iPhone 12 and 12 mini, triple for the Pro models), and new features like Ceramic Shield and LiDAR. Interestingly, Apple no longer included an in-box charger with this series.
iPhone 13 Series (September 15, 2021)
Apple introduced in September 2021 the new iPhone 13 models: the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
These phones retained a design similar to their iPhone 12 predecessors, albeit with a smaller notch and additional color options.
Key features included the A15 Bionic chipset, which provided enhanced battery life, and a new Cinematic Mode for video recording that automatically adjusts focus based on the scene.
Additionally, the iPhone 13 Pro models were the first to have a 120Hz display, a feature not found in the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini.
iPhone SE 3 (March 8, 2022)
A year later, Apple released the iPhone SE 3. Though it came out only two years after the iPhone SE 2, its design stayed mostly the same with a 4.7-inch screen, broad edges, and the classic Home button with fingerprint scanning.
However, it did have some new additions, like 5G, an A15 Bionic chip, and a better battery. Otherwise, it was quite similar to its predecessor. As a result of these upgrades, the phone’s price rose to $429 – still for only 64GB of storage.
iPhone 14 Series (September 7, 2022)
During Apple’s ‘Far Out’ event on September 7, 2022, they introduced the iPhone 14 series, which includes the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
The iPhone 14 Plus is a new addition, taking the place of the less popular iPhone mini. The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus maintain many features of the iPhone 13 series, like the A15 Bionic chip. However, the Pro versions received major updates.
A significant change is the Dynamic Island, a unique oval cutout replacing the familiar wide notch. The Pro versions also boast a 48MP main camera, marking a significant jump in camera resolution. These phones use the A16 Bionic chip, a slight improvement over the A15. Another first for iPhones is the Always-On Display feature.
All iPhone 14 models have a Crash Detection and an Emergency SOS via Satellite function, providing critical help in emergencies, like after car accidents or in areas without cell or Wi-Fi service.
Physical SIM cards are no longer an option in U.S. models, as only eSIM is available. The iPhone 14 Pro models are Apple’s top-tier phones, but the upcoming iPhone 15 series promises even more advancements, notably a shift to a USB-C port from the Lightning port.