Apple iPhone: A decade of setting benchmarks

A decade ago the first Apple iPhone set into motion a chain of events that completely turned the mobile phone ecosystem on its head.

Since then, every iteration has carried forward a tradition of setting user experience benchmarks.

All told, around 1.25 billion iPhones have been sold since then.

The new iPhone or iPhones—the iPhone 8 or the iPhone X or the iPhone Edition, whatever Apple finally decides to call it—will be unveiled at the annual keynote on 12 September in the US.

iPhone (2007)

iPhone (2007)

iPhone (2007)

The very first iPhone was revolutionary for its time. The concept of a touchscreen was alien to most people, yet the iPhone had a 3.5-inch multi-touch display. With 6.1 million iPhones sold in the first year itself, Nokia must have been kicking itself for reportedly dumping the touchscreen phone concept a few years previously.

iPhone 3G (2008)

iPhone 3G (2008)

iPhone 3G (2008)

The big add-on to the original iPhone’s successor was 3G capability, as well as GPS for tracking location and navigation. The iPhone 3G was also the first iPhone with an app store and third-party apps, as well as push-email.

iPhone 3GS (2009)

iPhone 3GS (2009)

iPhone 3GS (2009)

This is the first time that Apple truly focused on the specifications of the iPhone. “The fastest, most powerful iPhone yet”, as it was called at the time, this packed in more RAM and storage space.

iPhone 4 (2010)

iPhone 4 (2010)

iPhone 4 (2010)

The fourth-generation iPhone saw a new naming philosophy where the number indicated the generation. The entire design language changed, with a stainless-steel frame, flat sides and glass on the front and back. The iPhone 4 also introduced the retina display in smartphones. Performance was again in focus—the RAM was increased to 512MB (the iPhone 3GS had 256MB RAM) to allow faster app response.

iPhone 4S (2011)

iPhone 4S (2011)

iPhone 4S (2011)

A lot changed under the hood in the iPhone 4S, but on the outside, it looked identical to the iPhone 4. Apple, incidentally, announced this phone a day before the death of CEO Steve Jobs. Along with the iOS 5 operating system, the iPhone 4S introduced the world to the assistant Siri as well as the cloud storage service iCloud, both unique at the time.

iPhone 5 (2012)

iPhone 5 (2012)

iPhone 5 (2012)

The iPhone 5 ushered in many features which remain a part of the latest line-up of Apple iPhones—the Lightning connector for charging and data transfer and earbuds. A complete design refresh also saw the screen size increased from 3.5-inches to 4-inches and a thinner aluminium chassis. Support for LTE mobile networks was also introduced. More than five million phones were sold in the first three days of its availability.

iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C (2013)

iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C (2013)

iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C (2013)

The 5S was the logical successor to the 5, and retained the same design and dimensions. But under the hood was a 64-bit processor (for the first time in a smartphone), an improved camera, Touch ID fingerprint scanner integrated into the home button and the M7 “motion co-processor”, which allowed fitness tracking. Also launched was price -warrior iPhone 5C.

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (2014)

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (2014)

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (2014)

Apple introduced two phones with different screen sizes, the iPhone 6 getting a 4.7-inch screen and the iPhone 6 Plus sporting a larger 5.5-inch screen. These were also the thinnest iPhones. For the first time, 128GB storage options were on offer.

iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus (2015)

iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus (2015)

iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus (2015)

Following the trend of the “S” line-up over the years, the 6S and the 6S Plus were boosted versions of the 6 and 6 Plus. A newer processor, a better camera and the stronger 7000 series aluminium alloy chassis were the major upgrades. The rose gold colour option (hugely popular in India) was launched. The devices also introduced the 3D touch technology

Apple iPhone SE (2016)

iPhone SE (2016)

iPhone SE (2016)

This was a bit unexpected, but with this launch, Apple tried to convince everyone that there was still demand for compact smartphones. The SE’s design went back to the iPhone 5 and 5S, with a 4-inch display. The internals exactly replicated those of the iPhone 6S.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (2017)

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (2017)

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (2017)

These iPhones will be remembered for the demise of the headphone jack. The larger iPhone 7 Plus also became the first iPhone with a dual camera—one 12-megapixel standard wide-angle and a telephoto with 2x optical zoom.