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A Look Back on a Decade of the iPhone

A Look Back on a Decade of the iPhone

The iPhone turns 10 this summer—it’s amazing how far we’ve come. Read on for a look back at a decade’s worth of technological innovations that have completely changed the way we relate to our phones.

2007: The original iPhone.

Unveiled in January and released on the market in June, the original iPhone laid the groundwork for today’s sophisticated smartphones and kicked off an era in which powerful, pocket-sized computers were designed not only for business executives, but for everyone. It’s true that other smartphones were already around before this time, but none brought together features, functionality, and design in such an exquisite way as the iPhone. One of the main things that set the iPhone apart from previous smartphones was its fully touch-centric interface. Most phones up until this point still relied on physical keyboards. (Indeed, it’s interesting to note that early critics pounced on the touchscreen as something that people would never go for, given their clear preference for a physical keyboard. It’s not difficult to imagine how those critics are feeling now.)

2008: iPhone 3G.

iphone3gOne year after the original iPhone hit the market, Apple launched its successor, the iPhone 3G. The new model had the ability to connect to faster 3G networks and included built-in GPS, as well as increased storage capacity and a lower price tag. Many of these enhancements were designed with Apple’s emerging App Store in mind, a new initiative that rolled out around the same time as the iPhone 3G.

2010: iPhone 4.

With the iPhone 4, Apple completed its first full overhaul of the phone’s appearance (in order to distinguish the iPhone from its comparable counterpart, the iPod Touch) and kicked off an ongoing design rivalry with other tech companies by billing the model as “the world’s thinnest smartphone.” The iPhone 4 also marked the arrival of the first high-resolution Retina screen, which has been a key iPhone feature ever since (at the launch of the iPhone 4, Steve Jobs was quoted as saying, “Once you use a Retina Display, you can’t go back,” and Apple has certainly lived up to those words). Finally, the iPhone 4 brought in a new wave of communication with its FaceTime video-calling feature, making video chatting easier than ever for iPhone users.

2011: iPhone 4s.

Apple stepped up the pace of its iPhone releases with the 4s model, which rolled out in October of 2011, just over a year after the release of the iPhone 4. In addition to its powerful new dual-core processor (which is also used in the iPad 2), the iPhone 4s ushered in the first appearance of the digital assistant, Siri. Named after SRI International, a research institute in Menlo Park, California, Siri wasn’t much of a selling point in the first few years following its debut, but recent advancements in artificial intelligence have put Siri front and center not only in relation to the iPhone, but also the entire Mac computer family.

2012: iPhone 5.

The iPhone 5 boasted another significant redesign, with Apple choosing to move away from the previous glass-coated backing to the sleek brushed aluminum finish that’s now the iPhone standard. The iPhone 5 also became even slimmer due to the switch from the 30-pin dock connector to the more compact 8-pin Lightning port.

2013: iPhone 5s and 5c.

iphone 5The rollout of not only one, but two iPhones in 2013 signaled Apple’s desire to appeal to a wider market and offer more choices to a greater range of consumers, particularly those in emerging markets. The iPhone 5s was something of a luxury upgrade—featuring a faster system, Touch ID, a new motion data processor with the capacity to support the latest health and fitness apps, and the option of a gold finish. The iPhone 5c was a colorful, discount-priced option that offered consumers the opportunity to get their hands on an affordable iPhone that still felt like a new model.

2014: iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

With the launch of two iPhones for the second year in a row, Apple was making a move to stay competitive against increasingly popular Android devices and boost its appeal in Eastern markets. Size was the important factor here: the iPhone 6 increased the formerly 4-inch display to 4.7 inches, while the iPhone 6 Plus boasted a decidedly larger 5.5-inch screen for those consumers who preferred more tablet-sized phones.

2015: iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.

The upgrades found in these models included 3D Touch, a new force touch technology that lets a user give different commands simply by changing the pressure on the touchscreen, and a sophisticated camera with the ability to shoot 4K video. 2015 also saw rose gold, the newest iPhone color, make its first appearance.

2016: iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

In terms of appearance, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus didn’t look that different from its predecessor. For this new release, Apple chose to focus on changes to the “engine” rather than the design. The changes included a water-resistant body and a dual lens camera with the ability to sense depth, as well as a quad-core A10 Fusion chip.

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