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The evolution of Apple's iPhone

As the iPhone ages, it's important to look at how the now-iconic device has matured since its arrival in 2007.

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone [cover]
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The iPhone, then and now

The iPhone has come a long way since its arrival in 2007.

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > The Original iPhone
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First iPhone

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone on Jan. 9, 2007. The device, which didn’t actually go on sale until June, started at $499 for a 4GB model, $599 for the 8GB version (with a two-year contract). It offered a 3.5-in. screen, a 2-megapixel camera and won plaudits for the then-new multitouch features. Critics, however, said the phone was too expensive to do well in the market. [See iPhone launch story here.]

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 3G
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iPhone 3G

On June 9, 2008, a year after the original iPhone went on sale, Apple rolled out its successor, the iPhone 3G. The new model could connect to faster 3G-based networks, included built-in GPS, offered more storage and was cheaper. Selling for $199 for the 8GB model, $299 for the 16GB version, the iPhone 3G was available on July 11, and offered something called location services. “Location services is going to be a really big deal on the iPhone,” said CEO Steve Jobs. “It’s going to explode.” [See launch story here.]


Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 3GS
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iPhone 3GS

Again at WWDC, Apple Steve Jobs announced the next iPhone, a faster version called the iPhone 3GS. Although the form factor was unchanged from the previous version, the new iPhone was twice as fast as its predecessor and ran iPhone 3.0 (an early version of iOS 8, due out later this month). The 32GB iPhone 3G S sold for $299; a 16GB model went for $199. An 8GB iPhone 3G was also offered for $99. The iPhone 3GS was available June 19, 2009. [See launch story here.]


Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 4
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iPhone 4

The redesigned iPhone 4 arrived on June 7, 2010 in tandem with the newly-renamed iOS 4, and marked the arrival of FaceTime video chat. Prices remained unchanged: $199 for a 16GB model and $299 for the 32GB version. It went on sale on June 24, and heralded the arrival of the first high-resolution “Retina” screen. “Once you use a Retina Display, you can’t go back,” said Steve Jobs. [See launch story here.]


Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 4S
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iPhone 4S

In a change of pace, Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S on Oct. 4, 2011, a few weeks after Steve Jobs stepped down because of health issues. New CEO Tim Cook talked up the new phone's dual-core processor (the same used in the iPad 2), and said the 4S would go on sale Oct. 14. In addition to the usual 16GB and 32GB models, Apple also unveiled a 64GB version that sold for $399. [See launch story here.]


Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 5
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iPhone 5

The iPhone 5, the first version to have a 4-in. screen, arrived on Sept. 12, 2012, as CEO Tim Cook touted the faster, slimmer upgrade to the iPhone 4S during a 90-minute presentation in San Francisco. “This is the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since the [original] iPhone,” he said, referring to the first-gen smartphone Steve Jobs had launched in 2007. The iPhone 5 hit the streets on Sept. 21; prices for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models were unchanged. [See launch story here.]


Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 5s / 5c
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iPhone 5S and 5C

Last Sept. 10, Apple CEO Tim Cook rolled out not one, but two iPhones: the upscale iPhone 5S (now in gold, in addition to the usual white and black), and the colorful, less-expensive iPhone 5C. (The iPhone 5C was basically a reskinned iPhone 5.) The iPhone 5S got a faster, 64-bit A7 SoC (system on a chip), Touch ID, and a new motion data processor touted as the foundation for a new wave of health and fitness apps. The iPhone 5C started at $99 for a $16GB model; the iPhone 5S started at $199 for the same amount of storage. Both went on sale Sept. 20. [See launch story here.]


Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 6 / 6 Plus
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iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

For the second year in a row, Apple unveiled two iPhones: the iPhone 6, which has a 4.7-in. screen, and the iPhone 6 Plus, with a 5.5-in. screen. Both iPhones sport new A8 processors that are faster and more efficient than last year’s models. Both also have upgraded cameras and are NFC-ready for access to the new Apple Pay network that rolls out in October. Although the iPhone 6 is priced the same as 2013’s iPhone 5S, the Plus model is $100 more. [See launch story here.]

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 6s / 6s Plus
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iPhone 6S and 6S Plus

Apple's iPhone 6S and 6S Plus represent meaty upgrades to the 2014 models on which they're based. The 6S and 6S plus get new force touch technology called 3D Touch, as well as a beefed up 12-megapixel iSight camera that can shoot 4K video. (The 5-megapixel FaceTime camera is also new, and is designed to take better selfies.) Both phones run on a faster A9 chip, and come in a new color for 2015: rose gold. [See launch story here.]

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 7 / 7 Plus
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iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus look much like the 2015 models with three major exceptions: Apple eliminated the audio jack, changed the home button into a haptic-based virtual button and added a dual-camera setup in the 7S. The loss of the audio jack, a somewhat controversial move, means users will have to rely on the Apple-supplied earbuds or use their old headphones with the included adapter. Both phones run on a quad-core A10 Fusion chip, and come in two new colors: Black (a matte-finish charcoal color) and the super shiny Jet Black. [See launch story here.]

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone 8 / 8 Plus
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iPhone 8/8 Plus

Apple introduced the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus with a new glass and aluminium enclosure, Retina HD display, A11 Bionic Chip, and wireless charging on Sept. 12, 2017. The front and back glass enclosure, which Apple claims is the most durable glass ever in a smartphone, is reminiscent of the design of the iPhone 4 and 4s. True Tone technology adjusts the white balance of the display to match the surrounding light. Redesigned stereo speakers are 25% louder and deliver deeper bass. Apple calls the A11 Bionic chip "the most powerful and smartest chip ever in a smartphone." It features a six-core CPU with two performance cores and four efficiency cores, which are 25% and 70% faster than the A10 Fusion chip, respectively. The new iPhones include an Apple-designed GPU that delivers up to 30% faster graphics than in 2016’s iPhone 7. Each model features an improved 12-megapixel camera with a larger (and faster) sensor, a new color filter, deeper pixels and capabilities for 4K video up to 60fps and 1080p slo-mo up to 240fps. ARKit in iOS 11 allows developers to create AR games and apps offering immersive and fluid experiences. Color variations include space gray, silver, and a new version of gold. Pre-orders begin on Sept. 15; sales in stores begin Sept. 22.

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone X
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iPhone X

To commemorate a decade of iPhones, Apple ended its September event with “one more thing,” the iPhone X (“ten”). Starting at $999 for 64GB and $1,149 for 256GB, it is Apple’s most expensive iPhone to date. It includes a redesigned glass and stainless steel enclosure, wireless charging and dual cameras. Its flagship feature is an edge-to-edge “Super Retina display” -- a 5.8-in. OLED display that supports Dolby Vision and HDR 10. It has a pixel resolution of 458ppi, a 1 million-to-1 contrast ratio, and True Tone. Touch ID and the Home button have been removed in favor of a new biometric security: Face ID. Face ID uses a TrueDepth camera system made up of a dot projector, infrared camera and flood illuminator. The A11 Bionic chip works in tandem with advanced depth-sensing technologies to map and recognize a user's face to securely unlock the iPhone or make a transaction with Apple Pay. Face ID only works when a user looks at the iPhone X directly and is designed to prevent spoofing by photos and masks. The TrueDepth camera also can animate emoji, which Apple playfully calls Animoji. The 7-megapixel TrueDepth front-facing camera that enables Face ID also includes auto image stabilization and delivers Portrait mode for better selfies with a depth-of-field effect. The dual 12-megapixel rear camera includes dual optical image stabilization, and an improved f/2.4 aperature on the telephoto lens. According to Apple, the new A11 Bionic neural engine performs up to 600 billion operations per second and is designed for specific machine learning algorithms, enabling Face ID, Animoji, and other features. Colors include silver and space gray. Pre-orders start on Oct. 27; the iPhone X will be available November 3.

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone XR
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iPhone Xr

The Xr has an aluminum-and-glass design in six finishes, with improved water resistance and a 6.1-in. “Liquid Retina” display. It’s available in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB models, starting at $749, and features Apple's A12 Bionic Chip with second-generation Neural Engine – the first 7-nanometer chip in a smartphone. Portrait mode with depth control is available on the TrueDepth camera for selfies, which includes support for Memoji and face tracking for Face ID authentication, while the 12-megapixel camera with an f/1.8-aperture wide-angle lens has a new sensor and improved software algorithms for faster focusing and enhanced portraiture with depth control. Established iPhone gestures are supported, and haptic touch controls can be used to instantly launch the camera or flashlight from the home screen. Pre-orders begin on Oct. 19; sales in stores start Oct. 26.

Computerworld > The Evolution of the iPhone > iPhone XS / XS Max
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iPhone Xs and Xs Max

Featuring 5.8- and 6.5-in. all-screen designs and improved scratch- and water-resistance, Apple's iPhone Xs and Xs Max both offer Super Retina OLED displays that support Dolby Vision and HDR10 and have iOS system-wide color management; the Xs Max has the largest iPhone display to date, with more than 3 million pixels, and the biggest battery – promising up to an hour and a half more battery life than the iPhone X. The 12-megapixel dual-camera system offers advanced depth segmentation in Portrait mode with the ability to adjust depth of field both in preview and post-capture for precise control in portrait creation; the new system allows for faster face tracking for Face ID, Memoji and third-party ARKit apps. Low-light performance and image stabilization has been enhanced for both still photography and video capture, in addition to an extended dynamic range for better highlight and shadow detail, and four built-in mics can record stereo sound. These models are the first to include Apple's A12 Bionic Chip with second-generation Neural Engine. The new chip design is capable of completing up to 5 trillion operations per second (compared with 600 billion in its predecessor). Models in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB configurations start at $999 and $1,099 for the Xs and Xs Max, respectively. Pre-orders began on Sept. 14, with availability in stores on Sept. 21.

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