A Brief Glance at the Evolution of iPhone Design

Dirt of the Day

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone. For some, it may be difficult to remember a world without these devices, particularly because of the convenience they provide. But what exactly do you know about this pint-sized, indispensable piece of gear that has your head in the sand each and every day?

Indeed, its sleek, artful design immediately grabbed the attention of interested consumers in 2007. But while the iPhone continues to evolve, you may be surprised to discover the transformation these devices have undergone in the past decade.

The Development of the iPhone

Whether they liked it or not, fans of the iPhone may be familiar with the company’s “culture of secrecy,” which, to this day, remains a living, breathing thing at its Silicon Valley headquarters. And with a multi-million dollar price tag to develop and produce the first iPhone, it’s no surprise employees were told to maintain a shroud of secrecy around this new innovation.

Indeed, the iPhone was a high-stakes, one-of-a-kind gamble, and there was certainly no room for error when it came to keeping the idea and its details tightly under wraps. In fact, development of the first iPhone was no small feat, and the late Apple founder Steve Jobs was determined to keep his team of engineers and managers — they were said to be frequently stressed and swilling scotch to take the edge off — up to this enormous task.

The Reinvention of the Phone

But like anything in business, Jobs had to first sell the American public on the virtues of this never-before-seen piece of technology. Before the first iPhone hit shelves, Jobs famously held a series of iPhone release announcements in which he took the stage to let his diehard, obsessed fans know how communication was about to change forever.

By combining an iPod, a phone and the internet in an all-in-one compact device, it’s certainly no exaggeration to suggest the iPhone’s initial release was a transformative moment in revolutionizing how people could now communicate. Jobs knew it, and more importantly, every Apple devotee in the audience and beyond realized this, too.

But there was more to the story beyond the iPhone’s release. Despite the iPhone immediately capturing the public’s attention, an unprecedented level of brand loyalty emerged between Apple and its devoted fans — which continues to this day. Indeed, while Apple had already amassed an army of loyal fans, more and more found themselves ready to take a journey with a leader in Jobs, whom they had come to love and trust beyond measure.

Here’s a look back through time at some select early iPhone releases:

The First Generation iPhone

It all began on June 29, 2007, with the release of the first generation iPhone. This iPhone featured the trademark Home button, a slim 11.6-millimeter case with metal rear casing, 3.5-inch display and the sleek and capacitative touchscreen. Consumers had the option to choose a device that featured either 4 GB or 8 GB of storage; they were also introduced to visual voicemail.

2008: iPhone 3G

Despite the newness of it all, Jobs didn’t waste any time refining his successful innovation. In June 2008, Apple unveiled the greatly improved iPhone 3G, which provided a quicker means to access the internet. Additionally, the new iPhone’s sleek design, improved earphone jack, longer battery life and upgraded operating system that supported third-party apps were huge advances that helped convince millions of consumers to invest in this sophomore effort.

2009: iPhone 3GS

In 2009, Apple released the iPhone 3GS, with the “S” standing for and providing exceptional speed to access the internet and various apps. Other major upgrades to the 3GS were improved graphics, a 3-megapixel camera and enhanced Bluetooth integration. Plus, those who snapped tons of photos and downloaded a number of apps and music were in for a treat, as this iPhone featured either 16 GB or 32 GB of storage. Additionally, this release allowed retailers to drop the price of the 3G.

2010: iPhone 4

Meantime, the iPhone 4 featured a redesign that touted a glossy glass finish and stainless-steel band. But perhaps most important was the color choices afforded to iPhone 4 users: black or white. And, just for starters, some new features included the A4 processor, a front-facing camera perfect for making video calls and a 5-megapixel camera.

2011: iPhone 4S

Some might say the “S” in the newly-released iPhone 4S stood for the revolutionary personal assistant, “Siri.” Through simple voice-activated commands, Siri could look up recipes, act as a morning alarm clock and provide directions to virtually anywhere. Some additional updates included iOS 5 and free iCloud services.

But on October 5, 2011, the day after the announcement of the iPhone 4S, Jobs passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He had only stepped down as CEO six weeks prior — current CEO Tim Cook took over day-to-day operations — but continued working until his passing.

2013: iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5S

Released on the same day, these releases featured some key differences:

  • iPhone 5S: The iPhone 5S was the first smartphone to feature a 64-bit processor, called the Apple A7. Another exciting feature included a fingerprint recognition sensor, located on the home button, called “Touch ID.” The iPhone’s camera also underwent several upgrades, including the addition of a dual-LED flash and users’ ability to take panoramic photos.
  • iPhone 5c: The iPhone 5c was released as a budget-friendly alternative to the iPhone 5S and was made of soft silicon rubber instead of anodized aluminum. This release shared the same dimensions as the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S and featured an A6 processing chip, HD camera for FaceTime and iSight camera with 3x video zoom.

2014: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus

Another simultaneous release for these versions brought about the first “Plus” editions. But the biggest changes for the iPhone 6 editions included larger screen sizes — 5.44-inch and 6.22-inch, respectively — and a curved design for better handling.

2015: iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus

Both of these models featured the new 3D Touch, which allowed users to unlock new shortcuts to open apps and send text messages. While the design stayed the same as the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, there were some updates, including the new iOS 9, a retina flash for the phone’s camera and a “live photos” feature.

Fall 2016: iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

The iPhone 7 series is similar to the iPhone 6 series, with a few exceptions, including:

  • 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays, respectively
  • A beautiful array of colors
  • Multi-touch display and IPS technology

September 2017: iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus

Featuring iOS 11, the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus also touts a glass-on-glass design, along with an Aerospace-grade aluminum frame for an unprecedented sleek appearance. Additional functional features include wireless charging and massive storage options: 64 GB and 256 GB.

November 2017: iPhone X

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, Apple is releasing the iPhone X, also known as iPhone 10, that features the biggest design change since the iPhone 6 series. The most anticipated feature? The removal of the Home button, which allows for better edge-to-edge display.

Keep Your Eyes to the Future, Because Apple Never Rests

Regardless of which iPhone you own, you can rest assured there’s always something exciting on the horizon to look forward to from Apple.


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