The Evolution of the iPhone

We all admire the iPhones. Apple’s flagship mobile communication devices revolutionized the mobile phone industry in the late 2000s. Today, we flaunt this piece of mobile technology because of fantastic graphics, looks, and cameras. These all evolved from a modest yet revolutionary device over 14 years ago.

iPhone is by far the most sold gadget and one of the most influential too. Since Steve Jobs announcement of the iPhone on January 9, 2007, the company has sold over 1.5 billion iPhones. Since its inception, the iPhones have become pocket computers, and the world reorganized itself around smartphones.

How iPhones came into being – Project Purple

Steve Jobs essentially reimagined how people interact with their mobile devices. A touch screen device that can do multiple tasks at the effort of touch was his brainchild.

The founder of Apple Inc. requested Tony Fadell (company’s lead hardware engineer), Sir Jonathan I’ve (Design Engineer), and Scott Forstall (software engineer) to work on a top-secret project. Hence, the efforts to create an all-screen, touch-capable mobile device started in 2004 and finally materialized in 2007.

The First iPhone

Release date: June 29, 2007

Variants: 4GB and 8GB variants respectively priced at $499 & $599.

The iPhone is a celebrated piece of tech history. Steve Jobs spent an hour at the Mac World event explaining what iPhone can do. After six months, on June 29, the first iPhone entered the market.

The hype was so immense that people waited in lines outside the stores to get their hands on this brand new gadget. The tradition continues to this day. The phone was a huge success; Apple sold 270,000 iPhones in the first week.

Key Specs of the first iPhone

  • 3.5-inch screen with a touch interface.
  • Bright display with a pixel density of 163 PPI.
  • iPhone 2G had a 2-megapixel camera, a mesmerizing camera at that time.
  • Two variants, 4GB and 8GB, and respectively priced at $499 & $599.

The phone won several accolades but critics frowned at the hefty price tag of the phone. It took Samsung and other smartphone brands seven years to create an actual competitor that could take the iPhone head-on.

iPhone 3G is the successor to the original iPhone

Release Date: June 9, 2008

Price: 8 GB model sold for $199, and the 16GB version sold for $299

After one year of the original iPhone launch, Apple launched iPhone 3G on June 9, 2008. They sold 11.6 million units (source: Statista). The highlight of this new iPhone was the location services, GPS, and faster network connectivity.

Specs of the iPhone 3G

The phone was surprisingly launched at lower prices, hence a steep climb in sales. The phone offered two storage options. The 8 GB version was priced at $199, while the 16 GB variant was $100 more, available for customers for $299. They both had the same sleek design with a home button in the center.

  • 3.5 inch LCD.
  • 133g in weight and 12.33 mm thick.
  • 128 MB ram.
  • 2MP camera with no video capturing capability.

iPhone 3GS, The rise of S trend in iPhones

Release Date: June 8, 2009

Price: 16 GB model sold for $199, and the 32GB version sold for $299

A year later, on June 8, 2009, Apple launched the iPhone 3GS, an upgraded version of the iPhone 3G. The latest model featured the same form factor but was twice as fast as the earlier iPhone 3G. Apple repeated the pricing strategy but doubled the storage space. The 16 GB model sold for $199, and the 32GB version sold for $299.

Apple’s sales practically doubled in 2009, as the company sold 20.73 million units.

Specs of the iPhone 3GS

  • 600 MHz A8 Cortex CPU.
  • 3-megapixel camera.
  • 3.5 inch TFT display with oleo-phobic coating.
  • Storage capacity of 16 GB or 32 GB.
  • No selfie camera, the rear camera offered video capturing at 480p at 30fps.

iPhone 4

Release Date: June 24, 2010

Price: 16 GB model sold for $199, and the 32GB version sold for $299

The iPhone 4 was completely redesigned; the form factor got substantial upgrades. iPhone 4 shipped out with a better operating system, iOS 4. This launch gave iPhone lovers the much-celebrated iOS platform. One of the prominent highlights of the iPhone 4 was the arrival of Retina display and FaceTime. Steve Jobs was so confident that he said, “once you use a retina display, you can’t go back.”

The phone is sandwiched between glass at the front & back and housed in a metal frame. iPhone 4 featured a selfie camera for the first time in the iPhone series

Apple again sold double the number of units than the previous year, a staggering 40 million approximately (source: Statista).

Key Specs

This iPhone featured FaceTime video chat for the first time.

  • High resolution, 3.5 inch IPS LCD, Retina Display
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • 1420 mAh battery
  • Apple A4 (45nm chip) CPU.
  • The 5 MP camera was the first camera that could shoot videos at 720p @ 30fps.

iPhone 4S

Release Date: October 4, 2011

Price: 16 GB model sold for $199. The 32GB & 64GB version sold for $299 and $399.

Apple launched iPhone 4S, continuing the previous trend of launching a faster generation after a year of the original device, the phone launched on October 4, 2011. 72.29 million units were sold. The iPhone 4S featured the new Dual-Core Processor. Case Escape also launched their business after this model was released, allowing individuals to start their own phone case businesses.

Key Specs

  • High resolution, 3.5 inch IPS LCD, Retina Display
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • 1420 mAh battery
  • Dual-Core Processor
  • THE 5 MP camera was the first camera that could soot videos at 720p @ 30fps.

iPhone 5

Release Date: September 12, 2012

Price: 16 GB model sold for $199. The 32GB for $299 & 64GB version for $399.

Apple revamped the iPhone’s design for this edition; it became slimmer and was encased in Aluminum. The device also got a bigger and better LCD, laying the foundation for future generations of iPhones as market leaders. Apple sold 125 million units of the iPhone 5.

Key Specs

  • 4 inch LCD IPS display
  • 8MP Main camera, 1.2 MP Selfie camera
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Apple A6 processor
  • 1440 mAh battery

iPhone 5S and 5C

Release Date: September 20, 2013

Price: 16 GB model sold for $199.

Apple continued the tradition of launching S variant with upgraded specs. Apple also launched a plastic housed iPhone 5C, but it wasn’t a huge success. iPhone 5S was the first iPhone with Touch ID. Apple also upped the aesthetic games for iPhone 5S and launched a Gold version of the phone. It was the first time Apple sales didn’t double year-on-year for the first time as only 150 million units were sold in 2013.

Key Specs

  • 4 inch LCD IPS display
  • 8MP Main camera, 1.2 MP Selfie camera
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Apple A7 processor, 64 bit
  • 1560 mAh battery

iPhone 6 & 6 Plus

Release Date: September 12, 2014

The iPhone expanded rapidly after the launch of these great devices. Apple sold 169 million units in 2014. This was the first time Apple launched two variants of the iPhone in the same year. Both phones had 12 MP cameras that could shoot 4k videos. iPhone 6 had lower on-screen real estate at 4.7 inches, while the 6 Plus got the bigger screen at 5.5 inches.

Key Specs

  • Touch ID
  • NFC and Apple pay
  • A8 bionic chip
  • 12 MP camera
  • 1810 mAh battery
  • PowerVR GX6450 (quad-core graphics)

iPhone 6S and 6S plus

Release Date: September 25, 2015

Apple gave extra firepower to the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Both phones differed in size, but the major upgrade was that they got the new touch technology called 3D touch.

Another great feature, Live Pictures, was added to the iPhone 6S series. Apple sold 231 million iPhone 6s series units, and it became the most successful iPhone series to date.

Key Specs

  • 4.7-inch display for 6S and 5.5 for 6S Plus
  • 12 MP camera in both devices
  • 2 Gb Ram in both devices
  • 2750 mAh Battery in 6S Plus and 1715 mAh battery in 6S
  • A9 (14nm chip) CPU

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 plus

Release Date: September 16, 2016

Dual cameras finally made it to the iPhones and the headphone jack was gone. The phone was aesthetically well built with a glass back. It looked similar to the previous iPhone version. It had a different camera setup, a more powerful chip, dual cameras in the plus model, better battery performance, 32GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB storage options.

The phone was a must-have for black iPhone lovers as the devices came in 2 beautiful black finishes, matte black and jet black. Apple sold 212 million units of these devices.

Key Specs

  • 12 MP camera in 7, whereas 12 MP primary and 12 MP 2x Optical zoom camera in 7Plus
  • Glass front and aluminum back in both models
  • 3Gb Ram in 7 Plus, while iPhone 7 was powered with the 2GB of Ram.
  • iPhone 7 Plus featured a 2900 mAh battery, whereas iPhone 7 came out with a 1960 mAh battery
  • Apple A10 Fusion chip (16nm)

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

Release Date: September 22, 2017

Apple finally discontinued the S tradition and launched iPhone 8 and 8 Plus with a revamped design. The device became sleeker and featured bigger displays than its predecessors. That was the first time Apple introduced a Bionic chip. The Bionic processor tremendously improved the performance output of the iPhones. Apple termed that chip the smartest and most powerful chip in a smartphone at that time.

The new design featured an aluminum frame with front and back made of glass. Another standout feature was wireless charging capability. Apple also launched a wireless charger, and this model confirmed that the headphone jack was gone for good from iPhones and other Apple devices.

True Tone technology automatically adjusts the white balance in iPhone 8 and 8Plus’s display. Apple also redesigned the speaker delivering 25% louder sound than iPhone 7. Apple sold 216 million units in 2017 despite the expensive price tag of $699+        

Key Specs

SpeciPhone 8iPhone 8 Plus
Display4.7 IPS LCD5.5 IPS LCD
Ram2 GB3 GB
Battery1821 mAh2691 mAh
CPUA11 Bionic Chip (10 nm)A11 Bionic Chip (10 nm)
Camera12 MP Main camera12 MP Main camera, 12 MP 2x Optical zoom

iPhone X

Release Date: November 7, 2017

Apple celebrated the decade of iPhones with the iPhone X. At that time, the most expensive iPhone with a starting price of $999 took the market by storm. Apple featured an end-to-end display with a notch to house front camera and sensors. It was the first time Apple switched from LCD display panels to OLED displays.

The Super Retina OLED display supported HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Apple powered the phones with A11 Bionic chip with a neural engine capable of handling 600 billion operations per second (according to Apple sources).

Key Specs

SpeciPhone X
Display5.8 inch OLED Super Retina
Ram3 GB
Battery2716 mAh
CPUA11 Bionic Chip with the neural engine (10 nm)
Camera12 MP Main camera with OIS, 12 MP 2x Optical zoom

iPhone XS and XS Max

Release Date: October 26, 2018

Apple continued with the all-screen design with a notch for XS and XS Max, however, the company brought back the S tradition. The iPhone XS and XS Max got upgraded feature with continuous upgrades as previously done by Apple for S version of the devices. Apple sold 217 million units in 2018.

The phone offered faster face tracking, memoji, and the best iPhone display with 3 million pixels.  The second generation neural engine with A12 Bionic Chip made these phones processing powerhouses.   

Key specs

SpeciPhone XSiPhone XS Max
DisplaySuper Retina OLED, HDR10, 625 nits (typ)Super Retina OLED, HDR10, 625 nits (typ)
Ram4 GB4 GB
Main Camera (Modules and Features)12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS 12 MP, f/2.4, 52mm (telephoto), 2x optical zoom. Quad-LED dual-tone flash, HDR (photo/panorama)12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1.4µm, dual pixel PDAF, OIS 12 MP, f/2.4, 52mm (telephoto), 2x optical zoom. Quad-LED dual-tone flash, HDR (photo/panorama)
BatteryLi-Ion 2658 mAh, non-removable (10.13 Wh)Li-Ion 3174 mAh, non-removable (12.08 Wh)
CPU(2×2.5 GHz Vortex + 4×1.6 GHz) Hexa-core (2×2.5 GHz Vortex + 4×1.6 GHz) Hexa-core
GPUApple GPU (4-core graphics)Apple GPU (4-core graphics)
ChipsetApple A12 Bionic (7 nm)Apple A12 Bionic (7 nm)
Resolution1125 x 2436 pixels (~458 PPI density)1242 x 2688 pixels (~458 PPI density)

iPhone 11 and 11 Pro Max

Release Date: September 20, 2019

Apple upgraded its chipset for better speed and performance. All the models of iPhone 11 share the same chipset. Enhanced camera, better battery timing, and new location tracking Apple developed U1 chips are the device’s prominent features.

The Pro models are designed with stainless steel and matte glass. Whereas iPhone 11 is made of aluminum. iPhone 11 Pro has super OLED Retina Display while iPhone 11’s display is prosaic Liquid Retina LED.

Key specs

SpecsiPhone 11iPhone 11 Pro Max
ChipsetApple A13 Bionic (7 nm+)Apple A13 Bionic (7 nm+)
Resolution1125 x 2436 pixels (~458 PPI) (~458 PPI) 1242 x 2688 pixels
BatteryLi-Ion 3046 mAh, non-removable (11.67 Wh)Li-Ion 3969 mAh, non-removable (15.04 Wh)
Ram4 GB4 GB
CameraHexa-core (2×2.65 GHz Lightning + 4×1.8 GHz Thunder)Hexa-core (2×2.65 GHz Lightning + 4×1.8 GHz Thunder)

iPhone 12

Release date:  October 23, 2020

Apple released the iPhone 12 in four versions with aesthetic and classic looks. Apple introduced the new ceramic shield display for its devices which makes it stand out from its predecessors.  Apple offers Super XDR Retina Display with edge-to-edge face ID notch exception for the first time. The front display is protected by a ceramic shield which gives it 4x better drop performance.

SpecsiPhone 12
ChipsetApple A14 Bionic (5 nm)
Operating SystemiOS 14.1 (upgradeable to 14.4 iOS)
BatteryLi-Ion 2815 mAh, non-removable (10.78 Wh)
DisplaySuper Retina XDR OLED, HDR10, 625 nits (typ), 1200 nits (peak)
Memory6GB (Pro), 4 GB (Mini)

Author Bio:

Basit Ali is an Entrepreneur, marketer, and writer. Basit works as a content marketer at Cognizantt and working on projects like and Research Prospect. where he revises marketing content, improves email marketing, and works with marketing interns and customer service providers. His writing goes beyond traditional tech domains and includes interactive tips that are implementable in the world today. You can follow him on Facebook and LinkedIn

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