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The iPhone History

It’s easy for any cell phone to slip into a coma of anonymity with the vast amount of phones now available in the market. But that isn’t what Apple wanted when they decided to announce the iPhone in January 2007. They wanted a device that would always be remembered and bought. Steve Jobs dreamed of a device that would revolutionize mobile phones. He and the Apple team worked on the iPhone for more than two years. And while a lot of tech analysts quickly concluded that a computer-based company like Apple would not be successful in mobile phone communications, the iPhone is now considered one of the best smartphones in the market. 

 
The iPhone isn’t just any other cell phone. It is a small package of Apple’s best technologies. In 2007, Steve Jobs described the iPhone as an iPod, a phone and an Internet communicator. Today, thanks to numerous hardware and software updates as well as a flourishing app ecosystem, the iPhone has become more functional than ever. It can also serve as a tiny computing device with basic functions such as document creation through productivity apps. Through financial apps and third-party accessories the iPhone can now even act as an electronic wallet or a mobile payment system. Various startup companies have also produced different iPhone accessories and apps that transform it into a remote control, a multimedia center, a digital camera, a notepad, a digital book and a handy scientific calculator. 
 
But before it became a tech breakthrough, the iPhone started with simple stepping stones.
 
The iPhone (2007)
 
In 2004, the world was busy finding ways to cure cancer and prepare for the rise of mobile broadband networks that would usher in a new approach to Internet technologies. It was also in 2004 when rumors of an iPhone were first heard. Some tech journalists hinted that Apple might be releasing their very own cell phone, but most analysts did not believe that a computer manufacturer like Apple could ever pull off a trick like that. Three years later, Apple successfully released the original iPhone on June 29, 2007. The announcement of the iPhone brought a significant peak in Apple’s market share with stocks that rose 8% on that same day. By October 2007, Apple managed to sell 1.4 million iPhones. 
 
The original iPhone ran on a 400 MHz Samsung ARM chip with 128MB of RAM. It also had a 2 megapixel camera as well as EDGE and Wi-Fi connectivity. It was a full 3.5 inch touchscreen smartphone with three variations based on its internal memory capacity: 4GB, 8GB and 16GB. The first iPhone was made available through AT&T’s 2-year contract. Not only was the iPhone the most talked about mobile phone of 2007, it was also named the Invention of the Year. Wall Street Journal’s well-known columnist Walt Mossberg also named the iPhone a “beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer.”
 
The iPhone was discontinued in June 2008 following the release of the iPhone 3G.
 
Futher Readings:
 
  • Apple-History – This site details the history of Apple Inc. from its early years of foundation up until today. It also lists all the Apple products released and manufactured by Apple as well as their specifications and history.
  • Engadget’s iPhone Original Review – The article features the brief history of the iPhone. It also reviews the original iPhone in terms of hardware, software and features.
  • Webopedia’s iPhone, iPhone 3G, and iPhone 3GS – The article details the differences between the first three models of the iPhone as well as a short history of each model.
  • Apple Support’s Model Comparison – The website details the differences between all the iPhone models released and shows the years they were produced as well as their specifications, model numbers and memory capacities.
  • iPhone Rush Despite Mixed Reviews -  The article covers the enthusiast of Apple fans despite the mixed reviews as the iPhone was released.
 
The iPhone 3G (2008)
 
A year after the successful release of the original iPhone (also known as the iPhone 2G), the Cupertino-based tech giant released the iPhone 3G. It featured a faster Internet browsing capability through 3G technology and the updated iPhone OS 3.0. Apple also did some minor redesigning including a change in the materials used for the black housing replacing the silver metal black casing on the iPhone original. Apple also released a white version of the iPhone 3G but it was only available with 16GB of internal memory. The black version was available with both 8GB and 16GB memory. The newer iPhone was also thinner than its predecessor and a little lighter at 0.29 pounds. The redesign also included a 3.5 mm headphone jack.
 
The iPhone 3G retained the 400 MHz CPU with 128MB of RAM as well as the 2 megapixel camera. One distinct feature of the iPhone 3G was the GPS or Global Positioning System which was supplemented by data from regular satellites and cellular towers. The iPhone 3G was also Apple’s first step towards the international market. It went on sale in 22 countries on the date of announcement. But while Apple was able to sell a million iPhone 3G units in just three days, a lot of users complained of weak battery life and delicate glass panels. Some users also reported hairline cracks on white iPhone 3G models. Many reviews of the iPhone 3G also criticized its five hour talk time which was a pretty big difference compared to other 3G mobile phones. Still, the iPhone 3G was considered a tough competitor in the relatively new smartphone arena.
 
The iPhone 3G manufacturing was discontinued in June 2010, a year after the release of the iPhone 3GS and immediately following the release of the iPhone 4.
 
Futher Readings:
 
  • Apple-History’s Model Comparison – This website presents a chart that compares the differences between the iPhone original, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4.
  • Engagdget’s Official iPhone 3G Coverage – This article covers the important aspects of the iPhone 3G announcement. It also has links to the full coverage of the 2008 keynote as well as a full review of the iPhone 3G.
  • PhoneArena’s Apple iPhone 3G Review – This article features a review of the iPhone 3G in terms of hardware design, user interface, multimedia, software and performance. 
 
The iPhone 3GS (2009)
 
By the year 2009, Apple had managed to grow into a flourishing tech company. iTunes and the App Store had also grown immensely because of the iPhone. iPhone OS developers had added 50,000 apps to Apple’s online store which helped boost the ever growing Apple fan base. This fire was fueled by the release of the iPhone 3GS in June 2009. While a lot of tech sites claimed that the iPhone 3GS was merely a weak update of the iPhone 3G, a lot of Apple fans argued that the features Apple added were significant enough to make it a good buy.
 
In terms of hardware, Apple changed the CPU to a more recent ARM Cortex chip. Steve Jobs also stated that the “S” in the iPhone 3GS stood for “speed.” This was because the company upgraded the CPU speed from 400 MHz (on the iPhone and the iPhone 3G) to 600 MHz. It also increased the RAM from 128MB to 256MB. Aside from the hardware upgrades, the tech giant also rewarded iPhone users with a better camera from 2 megapixels to 3.15 megapixels. Apple also revamped the iPhone’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
 
The iPhone 3GS also had unique features like the magnetometer which added a digital compass to the GPS enabled Maps application. It also featured voice control, zooming in capability and a landscape keyboard. Apple also offered the iPhone 3GS with bigger internal memory capacities at 16GB and 32GB and with black and white versions for both. Like the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 3GS also sold one million units in just three days.
 
Factory productions for the iPhone 3GS were discontinued in September 2012 following the release of the iPhone 5.
 
Futher Readings:
 
  • Engadget’s iPhone 3GS Review – This article features a complete review of the iPhone 3GS including photos of its unboxing and first hands-on.
  • Gizmodo’s iPhone 3GS Feature Guide – This article shows a complete list of the iPhone 3GS’ new features and specs. 
  • AppAdvice’s iPhone 3GS News – This article details the release and discontinuation of the Apple iPhone 3GS. 
 
The iPhone 4 (2010)
 
2010 was a year of scientific exploration and advancement. It was in 2010 that scientists at CERN were able to trap antimatter through the Large Hadron Collider for the first time. In the field of mobile technology, two features became widespread: Augmented Reality and speech recognition. Though Apple was not able to release an iPhone that recognized speech until 2011, they were able to release a new iPhone that could use apps to do just that. Steve Jobs characterized the iPhone 4 as the “biggest leap since the original iPhone” precisely because of the many changes the company incorporated. 
 
The iPhone 4 was the first iPhone to run on an Apple-designed processor chip. It was also the first iPhone to use the iOS (a rebranding of the original “iPhone OS”). Aside from the A6 CPU chip and the iOS 4.0, the iPhone 4 also featured a faster graphic subsystem and a 3-axis gyroscope that provided 6-axis motion detection. The iPhone 4 also included hardware upgrades like the CPU speed (from the iPhone 3GS’ 600 MHz to 800 MHz), RAM (from 256MB to 512MB) and battery (from five talk time hours to seven). Apple also revamped the 3.5-inch screen’s meager 480x320 pixel resolution to 960x640 pixels, which they started calling “Retina Display.” The iPhone 4 was also the first iPhone to have a front facing camera (VGA) along with the rear camera (upgraded to 5 megapixels from 3.15 megapixels). 
 
Another new feature of the iPhone 4 was FaceTime, Apple’s video calling feature that worked on most iOS devices like the iPad and iPod. The iPhone 4 also had new native apps like iBooks, a digital reading application. As previously mentioned, it also utilized a speech recognition app made by Siri Inc. The GSM iPhone 4 was sold in two variations: 16GB (black only) and 32GB (black and white). And while the tech giant was able to beat a lot of market records by selling three million iPhone 4 units in under a month, users and tech critics pointed out various technical issues like problems with the iPhone’s antenna and a weak battery. These technical problems also slowed down production and shipping. In 2011, a CDMA version of the iPhone 4 was produced.
 
Futher Readings:
 
  • Apple-History’s iPhone and iPhone 4 Comparison – This site details the differences between the original iPhone released in 2007 and the iPhone 4 released in 2010. It also includes a brief background of both iPhone models.
  • Apple’s iPhone 4 Press Release – This page features Apple’s official press release on the iPhone 4 launch. It details the iPhone 4’s new features as well as a few highlights on Steve Jobs’ iPhone 4 keynote presentation.
  • Business Insider’s iPhone 4 Report – This article has links to pictures of the iPhone 4 and has a list of all its new features.
 
The iPhone 4 (CDMA) (2011)
 
For three years, all iPhone models were sold only through Apple’s mobile carrier partners, AT&T and Sprint. Unlocked iPhone units, on the other hand, were sold only through Apple and other third party retailers. And while Apple remained loyal to AT&T, the company decided to partner with AT&T’s competitor, Verizon, in January 2011 and even produced an iPhone 4 that was exclusive to Verizon subscribers.
 
In a nutshell, the CDMA version of the iPhone 4 was almost the same as the GSM iPhone 4 save for the cellular aspects. For one thing, the iPhone 4 released in June 2010 was exclusively available through AT&T and Sprint while the CDMA version became available only with Verizon and Sprint. Another noticeable difference was that the GSM model (model number A1349) had a micro-SIM card tray while the CDMA model (model number A1332) did not have a SIM tray. In place of a SIM card tray, Apple used a Qualcomm wireless chip that supported HSPA+ and CDMA connectivity.
 
The Verizon iPhone 4 was sold for the same price and capacity as the iPhone 4 GSM. However in October 2011, all iPhone 4 models (both GSM and CDMA) were replaced with a black or white 8GB model. The iPhone 4 was the only CDMA mobile phone in Apple’s smartphone lineup.
 
Futher Readings:
 
  • iFixit’s iPhone 4 CDMA Teardown – The article features a step by step tutorial of the iPhone 4 teardown and cites the hardware differences of the GSM and CDMA models.
  • TheVerge’s iPhone 4 CDMA Review – The article offers the full tech specs of the Verizon iPhone 4 and a few user reviews. 
  • Apple Support’s Model Comparison – This page shows a table of the iPhone models Apple has released since 2007, their model numbers and capacities. It also has a detailed list of the identifying features of the GSM iPhone 4 and CDMA iPhone 4.
 
iPhone 4S (2011)
 
Aside from the CDMA iPhone 4 and the 8GB iPhone 4, the Cupertino-based tech giant managed to squeeze in a new iPhone model in 2011. Introduced by the newly appointed Apple CEO, Tim Cook, the iPhone 4S made technological waves all over the world because of a distinct new feature: Siri. While a lot of other smartphones released in 2010 and 2011 already had voice recognition features, Siri was more comprehensive and functional than most. It could schedule appointments, take dictations, answer search queries through Wolfram Alpha, give Yelp reviews and scour the map for queried locations. 
 
Aside from Siri, the iPhone 4S was also praised for the many hardware updates Apple had incorporated. The iPhone 4S ran on Apple’s A5 chip (instead of the iPhone 4’s A4 chip) and also had dual cores making the iPhone 4S faster than its predecessors. Apple also included software updates with the iOS 5.0. The iPhone 4S also had an upgraded 8 megapixel camera (a far cry from iPhone 4’s 5 megapixel camera). And unlike other iPhone models that were strictly either GSM or CDMA compatible, the iPhone 4S was the first iPhone to have both cellular connectivity in one package. 
 
The iPhone 4S remained available through mobile carriers AT&T, Sprint and Verizon in black or white. It had three capacities including 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. Meanwhile, a lot of tech critics and investors were said to have been dismayed by the fact that Apple did not redesign the iPhone 4S. It still had the 3.5-inch Retina Display screen and had the same size and rectangular design as the iPhone 4. As such, Apple’s stocks plummeted by 5% on the day of the iPhone 4S release. But just three days later, Apple reported selling well over four million units.
 
Futher Readings:
 
 
The iPhone 5 (2012)
 
By the year 2012, Android smartphones (based on Google’s mobile operating system) had overtaken the smartphone market. Apple’s smartphone, on the other hand, received both hate and applause from the end of 2011 to the beginning of 2012 mainly because of its increasingly identical-looking iPhones. It took another iPhone for Apple to revive its market shares. In October 2012, the tech giant released a taller and thinner iPhone that helped recapture the smartphones market at 48.1% in contrast to Android’s 46.7%.
 
The iPhone 5 was released with a 4-inch screen, a feature that a lot of iPhone fans wanted for a long time. The iPhone 5’s screen also had a better resolution (1136x640 pixels compared to the iPhone 4S’ 960x640 pixels) and was thinner than its predecessor (0.30 inches instead of 0.37 inches). Though the iPhone 5’s rear camera stayed at 8 megapixels, the front camera was upgraded to 1.2 megapixels. Another huge upgrade was its new Lightning connector port, Apple‘s own invention.
 
The iPhone 5, just like the iPhone 4S, was also GSM and CDMA compatible and was available with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. It was also offered in three capacities: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB in both black and white.
 
Futher Readings:
 
  • Apple’s iPhone 5 Press Release – This page features Apple’s official press release on the launch event and details the new features included in the iPhone 5.
  • GSMArena’s iPhone 5 Specs Sheet – This page features the complete and full specs list of the iPhone 5 and also features a few user reviews.
  • BGR’s Market Share Report – This article discusses how the iPhone 5’s sales affected the smartphone arena about a month after its release. 
  • iMore’s iPhone 5 Report – This article details all the key features of the iPhone 5 and has links to reviews, user guides and feature guides for both iPhone users and buyers.
 
Throughout the years, the iPhone proved to be one of the most outstanding smartphone lines in the market. But what made it stand out was not the technological breakthrough it introduced, but the amount of loyal users it gained. From the iPhone original to the iPhone 5, Apple has successfully shown the world that their devices are not just techie gadgets but also social status symbols.

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