Since 2007, iPhone has been one of the most popular smartphones on the market, thanks to its elegant design and innovative use of technology. Solidifying their position as an industry-leading brand, Apple continues to develop ground-breaking new features every year. So, let’s explore how iPhone has progressed over the last 15 years, and what makes it such a revered and revolutionary handset.
The original iPhone made its debut back in 2007, where it became the first handheld device with multimedia capabilities and access to internet browsing – all on a touchscreen display. The first iPhone was equipped with a 3.5-inch display and a single 2MP rear camera lens, which was revolutionary for its time. A year later, Apple developed iPhone 3G, which saw the introduction of the App Store, 3G connectivity, and geotagging.
In 2009, Apple released iPhone 3GS, which - like its predecessors - had a 3.5-inch display, though there were improvements to the 3GS’ camera lens, jumping from a 2MP to 3MP. Plus, users could now record video content, operate voice control, and even utilise a digital compass.
For the next three years, Apple continued to refine and tweak iPhone, making considerable improvements to specifications like screen resolution. In 2010, iPhone 4 was announced and included a 3.5-inch Retina display - the first time Apple would upgrade its resolution. This not only gave users a boost in colour saturation but also decreased eye strain, providing a more comfortable user experience.
The following year, we saw the development of iPhone 4S. This smartphone made a huge leap from a 5MP camera lens to 8MP, as well as enhancements to video recording quality, with the option of 1080p. The release of the 4S was also the first time we met Siri, Apple’s voice-controlled virtual assistant.
2013 saw Apple pushing the boundaries of iPhone’s camera potential even further. iPhone 5s’ brilliant slow-motion feature was innovative at the time and enabled users to experiment with the dedicated 8MP rear camera lens’ impressive quality. Security was improved too, as users could now unlock the 5s with Touch ID, thanks to the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner. That same year, Apple released iPhone 5c, with a variety of vibrant finishes to choose from.
In 2014, iPhone 6 arrived on the scene, equipped with optical stabilisation and a slightly larger 4.7-inch display. Its sibling handset, iPhone 6 Plus, featured almost identical specifications, the only difference being a bigger 5.5-inch display.
One year later, iPhone 6s was launched, with several advancements to its camera setup, like a 12MP lens, and this was also the first time Apple incorporated 3D touch to their smartphones. As you might expect, iPhone 6s Plus featured similar specs to the 6s but was designed with a 5.5-inch Retina display, rather than the 4.7-inch screen on the smaller model.
What’s more, 2016 was the first year that Apple introduced a more affordable, midrange option to the market. iPhone SE included many of the same brilliant specs as the iPhone 6 series, only with a smaller 4-inch Retina display and without 3D touch.
In 2016, the release of iPhone 7 Plus included dramatic changes to its camera features, like 2x optical zoom, which allows you to get up close and personal with a subject from a distance. Not to mention the excellent telephoto lens and advanced bokeh, giving you license to experiment with perspective and create professional-grade content. This model was also the first not to feature the traditional 3.5mm headphone auxiliary jack, as Apple began to make the shift towards wireless Airpods.
One year later, iPhone 8 introduced the iconic glass cover, along with the capacity for wireless charging (sold separately), enabling you to conveniently charge your device without any tangled cables. Apple continued to release a larger counterpart alongside the smaller model, and iPhone 8 Plus featured a 5.5-inch display, in comparison to the 8’s 4.7-inch.
In 2017, Apple debuted iPhone X, making the leap to a 5.8-inch Super Retina display, the very first iPhone designed with an OLED display. This improved resolution saw enhancements to colour accuracy, and bezels were slimmed down too, so the edge-to-edge screen provided users with a more immersive viewing experience, perfect for watching your favourite Netflix shows.
Apple made fundamental changes to iPhone XS, iPhone X Max, and iPhone XR’s chipset too, featuring the A12 Bionic chip for the first time. Combined with iPhone X Max’s expansive 6.5-inch Super Retina display, this processor made mobile gaming ultra-responsive, whilst decreasing battery drainage at the same time.
More recently, Apple has continued to increase the display sizes of their smartphones. First released in 2019, iPhone 11 features a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina display, the largest screen to date. This handset comes equipped with a pair of 12MP wide and ultra-wide lenses, making it possible for you to capture images with a 120-degree field of view.
Next in the line-up, iPhone 11 Pro (2019), is the first iPhone of its generation to feature a triple camera system, including 12MP wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto lenses. In 2019, Apple’s flagship handset, iPhone 11 Pro Max, featured a 6.5-inch display – the largest screen size to date.
Moving into 2020, iPhone SE (second generation) went back to Apple’s roots, providing users with a more compact 4.7-inch Retina HD display. The SE shares many specs with iPhone 11, including everything you’d expect from a premium smartphone, with an A13 Bionic chip, a long battery life, and an advanced camera system with Portrait mode and Depth Control.
In 2020, we also saw Apple introduce us to the seminal iPhone 12 series. iPhone 12 mini provided users with smaller dimensions but powerful and sophisticated features, like the A14 Bionic chip, which boosted performance, allowing users to effortlessly multitask – perfect for keen gamers. With size being the only difference between the 12 mini and iPhone 12, the battery life is two hours shorter compared to the 12’s.
Alternatively, for anyone interested in the larger screen, iPhone 12 Pro Max’s 6.7-inch Super Retina XDR display eclipses the previous catalogue of iPhone displays. This is also the first time we see iPhone supporting 5G, meaning lower latency and faster download speeds. On top of that, improvements to Night mode allow you to take clear images in low-lit surroundings, without compromising photo quality.
In 2021, Apple revealed its latest smartphone, the iPhone 13 series. As we’ve seen over the years, the tech giant has continued to develop and modify iPhone’s iconic features. So it’s no surprise that the entire iPhone 13 series is engineered with the fastest processor in a smartphone to date - the A15 Bionic chipset - an advancement on the previous generation’s A14 Bionic chip.
iPhone 13 features some exciting improvements to the camera, including the superb Cinematic mode and Photographic Styles.
Plus, the battery life has significantly developed, lasting up to 2.5 hours longer than iPhone 12. Like its larger counterpart, iPhone 13 mini also features Cinematic mode and an improved battery life - up to an hour and a half longer than its predecessor, iPhone 12 mini.
iPhone 13 Pro Max paved the way for mobile technology in 2021, becoming the ultimate flagship model available on the smartphone market. Its impressive range of features includes 6x optical zoom, a new LiDAR scanner for more advanced photography in Night mode, and 28 hours of video playback.
Apple's smartphones have come a long way in the last 15 years, and we can be sure the future is set to be just as innovative.
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