Evolution of the iPhone

Then and now: The iPhone has evolved quite a bit since the first-generation product.

Over the years, the design and materials used to make the iPhone has changed quite a bit, from the first aluminium model, it went to plastic, then glass then back to aluminium in the most recent models.

Here's a quick look at how the iPhone has evolved over the years. In the interests of brevity, we've skipped some models, most notably the iPhone 5c and the iPhone SE.

Many people probably don't remember this, but the first-generation iPhone was quite a limited device.

If you held the original iPhone in your hand now you'd be surprised just how small the screen was.

iPhone (first-generation)

For one thing, there was no App Store and all you got were the apps that were pre-installed on the iPhone so you could send SMS but not MMS, the Google Maps app worked but there was no GPS chipset on it and the screen was just 3.5in with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels.

It also only featured GSM and EDGE data speeds and the camera was just 2 megapixels.

However, what it did have was a very responsive capacitive multi-touch screen that introduced us to pinch-to-zoom, autocorrrect software keyboard and Safari web browser that worked better than most mobile browsers of its time.

The first-generation iPhone was not released in Malaysia.

The iPhone 3G featured a curved polycarbonate back, which was a change from the aluminium body of the first-generation model.

iPhone 3G (2008)

The second-generation iPhone, dubbed the iPhone 3G finally made it to this country and in many ways, it's the model that had many of the features that we've come to expect today – a GPS chipset and 3G data connectivity.

More importantly, however, the iPhone 3G and the then iPhone OS 2.0 finally opened up the operating system to allow app installation and together with this Apple launched the App Store.

While the design of the iPhone 3GS was the same, the internals were significantly upgraded.

iPhone 3GS (2009)

The "S" in the iPhone 3GS stood for "speed" and although it had the same design as the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 3GS featured a faster processor, support for HSDPA data speeds up to 384kbps and a higher-resolution 3-megapixel camera.

The stainless steel frame and glass back and front of the iPhone 4 still looks good today.

iPhone 4 (2010)

The iPhone 4 featured a completely revamped design with a stainless steel frame with glass not just on the front but on the back as well. 

Many still consider the iPhone 4 to be one of the most iconic designs that Apple has ever created though it left many of us in tears as it resulted in not just cracked screens but cracked glass backs as well.

The iPhone 4 was also notable for introducing the Retina Display with a pixel density of 326-pixels-per-inch and a front-facing FaceTime camera.

Siri made its first appearance on the iPhone 4s

iPhone 4s (2011)

The souped-up version of the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4s featured a faster processor and was also the first model to feature Siri, Apple's digital assistant.

 The iPhone 4s also introduced iCloud, iMessage and Notification Centre.

Behold the diamond cut chamfered edge of the iPhone 5.

iPhone 5 (2012)

The iPhone 5 was especially notable because Apple designer Jony Ive introduced the term "chamfered edge" to refer to the device's bevelled edge and the term was subsequently used by other smartphone manufacturers when their phones featured the same design as well.

Moving away from the glass and stainless steel, the iPhone 5 returned to the aluminium body and a design reminiscent of the original iPhone.

The iPhone 5 was also notable for introducing a new longer 4in display with a 1,136 x 640-pixel 16:9 aspect ratio, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera.

TouchID was the most notable addition to the iPhone 5s

iPhone 5s (2013)

By this time, Apple had established a cadence of introducing a new design followed by a souped-up version with the same design the next year and the iPhone 5s followed this philosophy.

Most notably, though, the iPhone 5s was the first iPhone to feature a 64-bit Apple A7 processor, TouchID fingerprint sensor and the M7 motion co-processor.

The iPhone 6 Plus introduced a larger 5.5in screen to the iPhone family.

iPhone 6/6 Plus (2014)

With the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple introduced two models – one with the 4.7in screen and another with a larger 5.5in screen.

Although the iPhone 6 Plus camera had a similar 8-megapixel image sensor as the iPhone 6, the 6 Plus additionally featured optical image stabilisation.

3D Touch technology was introduced in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus

iPhone 6s/6s Plus (2015)

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were once again followed by the souped up version in 2015, namely the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus, this time with the notable addition of 3D Touch, which recognises when a person presses down on the screen.

For the first time, the new models had a bump up in camera resolution, moving from 8-megapixels for the rear camera to 12-megapixels, with 4K video recording.

The fingerprint sensor was also improved with a much faster recognition time.

The iPhone 7 Plus introduces a dual camera system and water resistance, but took away the 3.5mm audio port.

iPhone 7/ 7 Plus (2016)

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus carries forward the same design as the iPhone 6s and 6S Plus but with the addition of a new Jet Black colour.

Both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus saw a bump in camera quality, with the iPhone 7 gaining optical image stabilisation while the 7 Plus saw the addition of a second camera on the rear with a short telephoto lens in addition to the regular wideangle one.

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were also notable as the first iPhones to be water-resistant and also the first iPhones to do away with the 3.5mm earphone port.

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