It’s an unbelievable ten years since Apple first released its ground-shattering, industry-defining mobile phone, the iPhone. Aside from making us all feel a little bit old, this important occasion is a great opportunity to look back on what is now an everyday device, and one that spawned the smartphone - an item used today by 2.32 billion people worldwide.
The iPhone Vision
The original iPhone was born from the brain of Apple CEO Steve Jobs and his head of design, Jonathan Ive. Jobs had long thought that tablets and PDAs weren’t the best way forward when it came to mobile tech for everyday users, and believed that mobile phones and the ability to synchronise digital files constituted the best way forward.
Having had experience in making the Newton MessagePad in the 90s, and the ROKR E1 iTunes-loaded mobile phone, he set his designers the task of making a touch screen device that eliminated a mouse and keyboard. In 2005, after trying the prototype, he had the idea of incorporating a phone – a decision that completely changed the look and widened the purpose of mobile phones forever.
London native Johnathan Ive was behind the design. Drawing on Bauhaus tradition – a 1950s German industrial design school that focused on form following function and the idea that less equals more – for the look of Apple products (including the iMac and iPod) in the past, he created the effortless look we now know so well.
The Birth of the iPhone (2007)
Jobs announced the phone to a fanfare at the Macworld keynote address on September 1st, 2007, outlining that Apple were creating a ‘leapfrog’ product that ran a sophisticated operating system and was packed with features.
Analysts hadn’t been expecting an Apple iPhone to be announced at the keynote, delivered by Jobs in his classic style, and it’s safe to say that the crowd went wild.
Jobs’ skill as a showman and Ive’s eye for design won over critics and set the stage for multiple generations of iPhone, yet to come...
iPhone Through The Ages
Combining browsing, calls and multi-touch capabilities, the iPhone was a big deal, and has steadily grown bigger and better over the years.
iPhone 3G (2008) and iPhone 3GS (2009)
Released just under a year after the first iPhone, iPhone 3G included 3G internet (far faster than the 2G internet of the first device). It also came with GPS capabilities, notifications and the App Store, that finally allowed third-party developers to make apps for the device. It was a pretty big deal, and came with a 620 MHz processor, 128 MB of RAM and either 8 or 16 GB of storage space.
The first ‘S’ iPhone, iPhone 3GS was faster and more efficient than the previous device, and had voice control, a feature that would later become Siri.
iPhone 4 (2010) and iPhone 4S (2011)
The impressive iPhone 4 came next, with innovations such as an antenna built into the frame, a super-thin design and a high-resolution Retina Display. There was FaceTime, a 1 GHz processor, 512MB of RAM and more storage, as well as the biggie – a forward-facing camera. iPhone 4 would be available to buy for the next four years, a mark of how great a device it was.
A smaller upgrade, iPhone 4S had us saying hello to Siri, enjoying a cutting-edge 8MP camera and enjoying the new iOS 5 operating system.
iPhone 5 (2012) and iPhone 5C/5S (2013)
iPhone 5 had a new, slim-but-tall design, added a row of bottom icons to the main user interface, and introduced the Lightning connector. Apple Maps was also born and the whole device was lighter and more comfortable to use than previous models.
Colour was definitely lacking from Apple’s pre-2013 line-up, but that all changed with iPhone 5C – a more affordable alternative that arrived with iOS 7 and its powerful multitasking features.
2013’s flagship, iPhone 5S was a beautiful device that arrived with a 64-bit processor, Touch ID and a new main menu. iOS 7 lacked the dials and other design features that had been a big part of iOS beforehand, giving a cleaner, more modern interface, and Control Centre was born – a settings menu that let you control the workings of the phone like never before.
iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (2014)
Apple’s next upgrade, iPhone 6 saw a smoother exterior design, larger display and a revolutionary new camera. All in all, a faster and more efficient device that earlier phones couldn’t match.
2014 was a big year for phablets, thanks to the super-fast iPhone 6 Plus. Phones had been getting bigger for a long time before its release and Apple had decided to keep the design small, but they finally relented and the Plus line of iPhones was born.
iPhone 6S and 6S Plus (2014)
The following year, iPhone 6S was released, featuring better cameras and more power under the hood.
iPhone 6S also offered better performance, as well as the new 3D Touch – a pressure-sensitive touchscreen technology that opens up a whole new way to interact with your iPhone, allowing you to 'peek' and 'preview' content by varying the pressure of your tap.
iPhone SE (2016)
By 2016, fans of small smartphones had a diminishing number of devices to choose from, and iPhone SE answered their calls.
iPhone SE rocked a pocket-friendly 4-inch screen, a more traditional iPhone aesthetic than the recent, larger models, and the same great specs found in iPhone 6. The main difference was the smaller price-tag, making it the perfect choice for budget-conscious Apple fans.
iPhone 7 and 7 Plus (2016)
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus built on the previous generation's great design, including dust and water resistance, a new home button, better processing power from the redesigned A10 chip.
iPhone 7 also made headlines due to the removal of the 3.5mm earphone jack. This tactic, however, paved the way for improved personal playback via digital audio, as the redesigned EarPods connected to the Lightning Port. For those who prefer a wireless approach, the Bluetooth enabled AirPods can be employed for a tangle-free experience.
iPhone 8 and 8 Plus (2017)
2017 saw not two, but three new iPhones announced at the annual Apple keynote event. The first were iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which share the same water-resistant dimensions as 7 and 7 Plus, but with a sleek all-glass design reinforced by aluminium, to make them the toughest and sturdiest generation of iPhone to date.
The trusty 12MP camera, which is supersized on iPhone 8 Plus with dual lenses and Portrait Mode arriving to offer stunning results. The new A11 chip powers the show, while other big news includes the arrival of wireless charging, for a simpler and more convenient way to juice up your handset.
iPhone X (2017)
To celebrate the iPhone's 10th birthday in 2017, Apple also debuted iPhone X - the most advanced iPhone yet. Breaking new ground in the display department, this all-screen experience boasts a 5.8-inch display with Super Retina HD. This makes iPhone X's edge-to-edge display the largest and clearest iPhone screen to date.
With the Touch ID home button absent in favour of the maximised screen, security is handed to Face ID which secures your handset with impressive biometric face-recognition technology. iPhone X also features wireless charging, the new A11 chip, and the arrival of Animojis, which let you map your own facial expressions onto a range on animated emoji.
Which iPhone is right for me?
Apple have been breaking boundaries in the mobile phone world for ten years since the release of the iPhone. If a particular model has caught your eye, then head over to mobiles.co.uk, for our full range of best iPhone deals.