The Evolution of the iPhone: Every Model from 2007-2016

2016 marks the 10 year anniversary of the first iPhone release, so we’ll celebrate by looking at the evolution of iPhone models starting in 2007. Did you know that there isn’t an iPhone 2? Apple created the first generation iPhone and the one that came after that was all about that 3G internet connectivity. So the precious number 2 was skipped. The tech giant has released a total of ten iPhones over the years, including iPhone S and iPhone C additions. Here is a complete look at iPhone evolution, starting when Steve Jobs unveiled the original iPhone on June 29, 2007. 

iPhone: June 29, 2007

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Can you believe 16 GB is all you could put on the original iPhone? Granted there wasn’t nearly as much data to put on the iPhone yet and certainly no App Store. But you had access to the internet on a screen you could actually see it on. And it could only handle 128 MB of memory. The camera was 2.0 mega pixels— so, terrible. But a phone with a camera! Holy moly!


iPhone 3G: July 11, 2008

As far as internal specs go, the iPhone 3G wasn’t much different than the original iPhone. But now...there was an App Store! This iPhone got its moniker for its 3G connectivity, which meant access to internet you could actually use without wanting to throw the iPhone across the room.


iPhone 3GS: June 19, 2009

Apple introduced the 32 GB storage option with the iPhone 3GS. Clearly introducing the App Store changed things quickly. Between photos, music, and apps, 16 GB just wasn’t going to cut it. The camera got an upgrade to 3 MP and added video recording. Apple also added Voice Control although we’d have to wait a couple more years before the introduction of Siri.


iPhone 4: June 24, 2010

Now we’re getting somewhere. The iPhone 4 was the first iPhone to have a front-facing cameras. Little did Apple know, selfies would take over the world. The iPhone 4 also got a Retina display. With 512 MB memory, it was equipped to handle a lot more than even the iPhone 3GS, which only had 256 MB of memory. You can see the technology was beginning to look a little more familiar, but 32 GB was still the maximum amount of storage the iPhone could hold.


iPhone 4S: October 14, 2011

Talk about a huge difference between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S: the camera went from 5 MP to a whopping 8 MP. Now that’s an upgrade. Apple also introduced the 64 GB storage option but kept the memory at 512 MB. Video could then be recorded in 1080p. Oh I can’t forget— hello, Siri! Apple sold four million units of the iPhone 4S in its first week.


iPhone 5: September 21, 2012

Apple sold 5 million units of the iPhone 5 in its first week. The camera stayed the same but memory was boosted all the way up to 1 GB. You thought 3G was cool? Psh, the iPhone 5 had LTE connectivity. Hello internet everywhere. Apple also introduced the lightning connector with the iPhone 5. And for the first time, the screen got bigger! All previous generations were 3.5 inches but the iPhone 5 was 4 inches.


iPhone 5s & iPhone 5c: September 20, 2013

Between the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C, Apple sold nine million units in the first week of sales. The iPhone 5C was meant to be slightly more affordable and had a plastic shell. It was available in four different colors, but not too much else was different. The iPhone 5S, on the other hand, introduced Touch ID, dual flash, and slow-motion video. Plus it included the M7 motion coprocessor which opened a new realm of possibilities and also helped save battery life.


iPhone 6 & 6 Plus: September 19, 2014

What I’m realizing writing this post is that Apple tends to make larger leaps between the original model and the S edition than it does from the S edition to a new model. The iPhone 6's internal specs were very similar to those of the iPhone 5s. The biggest difference was having a significantly larger screen and offering an even larger size called 6 Plus. The Retina display became HD and the option to get an iPhone with 128 GB of storage became available. But the amount of memory was the same and the camera didn’t see a megapixel upgrade. But it didn’t matter—Apple sold 10 million units in the first week.


iPhone 6s & 6s Plus: September 19, 2015

Well not everything, it basically looked the same. But inside, Apple upgraded the iPhone 6s quite a lot. The camera made a huge leap forward going from 8 MP to 12MP. The memory was also doubled from 1 GB or 2 GB. After the iPhone 6 had some bending issues (#bendgate), Apple gave the iPhone 6s 7000 series aluminum to make sure that never happened again. Last but not least, 3D Touch was introduced. Like the early days of any feature, its capabilities are barely being used as of yet. But the iPhone 7 could change all of that.


iPhone SE: March 31, 2016

Don’t think I’ve forgotten the iPhone SE. It has all the awesome internal specs of the iPhone 6s in a small package and without 3D Touch. But overall, the iPhone SE was introduced as a more affordable option that, so far, people have seemed to really love.


iPhone 7 & 7 Plus, September 16, 2016

Apple finally dropped the 16 GB base model option, with iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus base models starting at 32 GB of storage and going up to 256 GB. Apple also introduced a new shiny Jet Black color. The iPhone 7 Plus proved to be more popular than previous Plus models due to its new dual camera, which made a significantly improved zoom feature possible, and Portrait mode, a software update that let iPhone 7 Plus users take impressive photos using Depth of Field. Perhaps the most controversial feature of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus was the one Apple removed: the headphone jack. The new iPhones shipped with a EarPods that plugged into the Lightning port and an adaptor for traditional headphones. Apple introduced its wireless AirPods at the same event it announced it was eliminating the headphone jack. 

2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, expected to be announced in September 2017. iPhone 8 rumors cover everything from wireless charging to edge-to-edge screen. Whatever rumors prove to be true, everyone expects Apple to make sure the iPhone of the 10th anniversary year is particularly epic and impressive. We’ll have to wait and see. But if the evolution of the iPhone continues to grow in this way, in another nine years the iPhone 6s will look like the original iPhone does to us now. Technology is amazing because each innovation is new and exciting, and then we’re no longer impressed so it has to be even more innovative and even more exciting. We’re a tough crowd!

Image Credits: Youtube / Greg Wyatt 


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Conner Carey holds a bachelor's in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing and resides in Fairfield, Iowa. When she's not writing, you can find her singing jazz or lifting weights. Her personal blog is currently under construction, but you can follow her on Instagram @connerleecarey.