When the iPhone was launched in 2007, few could have imagined how much of an impact it would have on the world. Every year since then we’ve had a new iPhone with new features and capabilities. But some years are better than others.
While each new iPhone improves on the formula, some have taken leaps and bounds in design, technology, or both. These are the six most important iPhones of all time.
6. iPhone: The original iPhone (2007)
The original iPhone really set the pattern for today’s smartphones. The iPhone was not only revolutionary technology, but it was profoundly easy to use. Unlike PDAs and “smart” devices that preceded it, the iPhone was fingertip operated. In the words of Steve Jobs, “Who wants a stylus?”
Not only was the iPhone intuitive, but it had incredible power for a mobile device of its time. In the early 2000s, there were tons of cell phones that could access mobile data, but most of them couldn’t access the real web. Those early mobile devices weren’t good for much more than downloading a few overpriced ringtones. The iPhone, on the other hand, could give you a desktop-class Internet experience, a revolutionary idea at the time.
So many features and design elements that we take for granted on modern smartphones might not have existed without the original iPhone. Without the original iPhone, there would be no iPhone Pro, iPhone SE, or modern iPhone. There’s no denying the impact of the iPhone that started it all.
5. iPhone 3G: The first iPhone 3G (2008)
If the original iPhone was a concept car, the iPhone 3G was the car you could actually drive. The original iPhone could let you go online, but unless you were connected to Wi-Fi, you were stuck with 2G speeds. Being limited to 3G data speeds these days can almost make you cringe, but back in 2008 3G was fast, really fast. Because it could access the 3G data network, the iPhone 3G could achieve speeds of up to 3 MBPS, which was 30 times faster than the 0.1 MBPS speeds on the original iPhone.
3G speed on the iPhone 3G made possible the smartphone as we know it. While 2G on the original iPhone worked for texting and viewing web pages, when it came to downloading apps or watching videos, it left a lot to be desired. With iPhone 3G, connecting with mobile data no longer has to be a compromise.
And Apple has given you a lot to do with this new data speed. iOS 2.0 brought us the App Store, which allows users to download third-party apps, one of the things that makes a smartphone a smartphone. iPhone 3G was when we really started to connect anywhere and anytime.
4. iPhone 4: the first beautiful iPhone (2010)
The iPhone 4 took the idea of the iPhone and made it beautiful. Although the iPhones before it were impressive technological devices, they looked very… early 2000s. The iPhone 4 introduced us to Apple’s now famous flat and minimal design language. Its body featured an aluminum bumper sandwiched by glass on both sides. It was a huge step up from previous iPhones, and many still consider it the most beautiful iPhone ever.
Apple has paired this impressive new design with the first-ever retina display on an iPhone. Packing more pixels into the iPhone 4’s 3.5-inch display than ever before, the device remains ultra-portable, while making it fun to use. Whether you were texting, playing games, or watching movies, the iPhone 4 simply looked better. It was the first time many people were introduced to the iPhone, and many still haven’t looked back.
3. iPhone 6s: The iPhone that lasted forever (2015)
Just a year before the 6s, Apple unveiled the iPhone 6, which eventually took the iPhone to a more modern smartphone size. But the iPhone 6s managed to pack some incredible power into that larger body.
While one of the main selling points of the iPhone has always been its camera, the iPhone 6s took that idea to the next level. iPhone 6s was the first iPhone capable of shooting 4K video, giving users more tools than ever to unleash their creativity. Apple also tweaked the body of the iPhone 6s, using stronger 7000-series aluminum to help end the “Bendgate” that plagued the iPhone 6 series the year before.
Although the iPhone 6s came with iOS 9 installed, it continued to receive software updates until 2021, with iOS 15. And although running iOS 15 on a seven-year-old phone is not not always the smoothest experience, the fact that it’s possible at all is impressive. The iPhone 6s proved that while iPhones aren’t cheap, they can last a long time.
2. iPhone X: the iPhone reinvented (2017)
The iPhone X was a true paradigm shift in Apple design. The iPhone X finally shrunk the huge chin and forehead of older iPhones and brought us a nearly bezel-less design. But making this change also meant rethinking how we would use an iPhone without a physical home button. Apple’s solution was simple: just swipe up. It was a perfect example of less is more design language.
The iPhone X was also the first iPhone with Face ID, which lets you unlock your iPhone or apps using your face, and it packs an OLED display to boot. It laid the foundation for the design still seen on the iPhone 13 series. The iPhone X also set a new price standard. When it debuted, it grabbed headlines as the first $1,000 iPhone.
These days, there are several flagship phones that will set you back $2,000 or more. Whether you have deep pockets or think smartphone prices have gotten outrageous, you can’t deny the impact of the iPhone X.
1. iPhone 12: the first 5G iPhone (2020)
When it comes to 5G, Apple was a little late to the party. The first 5G phones were released in 2019, but the iPhone 12 series didn’t hit stores until late 2020. That being said, when the iPhone 12 finally landed, it did so in a big way .
When the iPhone 12 finally launched, 5G was already having a huge impact on the world and was well established in most countries. This has allowed many users to take advantage of the new speeds right out of the box. These higher speeds have brought a host of new features to the iPhone, such as cloud gaming. The iPhone 12 also brought MagSafe to the iPhone, allowing many users to ditch traditional charging cables once and for all.
The iPhone 12 showed us what a next-gen iPhone could do.
What’s next for the iPhone?
Since the release of the original iPhone, each iteration has brought an advancement in design, speed, or both. The iPhone has transformed science fiction smartphones into everyday essentials.
That being said, the competition has become fiercer than ever and we’ve seen new technologies like foldable phones already making a splash in the market. So what will the next iPhone bring to the table?