One day ahead of the launch of the iPhone 15 line-up, CNN took a look back at every iPhone which preceded it, from the original iPhone in 2007 onward. That got me thinking about my favorites, and wondering: Which were yours?
When Steve Jobs presented the first ever iPhone – with his famous “an iPod, a phone and internet communicator … are you getting it?” reveal – he said it was a magical product which was five years ahead of anything else on the market …
Since then, Apple has continued to focus on the “magical” part – trying to ensure that the iPhone delivers a better experience than any other smartphone – but not on trying to be ahead of the market. Indeed, Apple turned into a famously conservative company where smartphone innovations are concerned, preferring to “do it right” than be first to market.
That approach continues with the iPhone 15, where only tomorrow will Apple include a periscope lens in the top-end Pro Max model, long after competitors did so.
But revolutionary or not, we probably all have our favorite iPhone models – the ones we still remember fondly today. Here’s a quick run-through …
2007: The original iPhone
Smartphones were nothing new, but the iPhone discarded the ubiquitous stylus in favor of a UI designed to be controlled by a finger and a hardware keyboard in favor of a software one. Both decisions created a device which looked and felt friendlier to use than previous smartphone models.
2008: iPhone 3G
Half the price, much faster connectivity, and the App Store.
2009: iPhone 3GS
The camera was upgraded from 2MP to 3MP and could now shoot video as well as photos.
2010: iPhone 4
A much thinner device with a slab-sided design, and the addition of a front-facing camera, for selfies and FaceTime.
2011: iPhone 4S
Siri! The camera was also upgraded from 5MP to 8MP and the ability to shoot 1080p video.
2012: iPhone 5
A huge 4-inch screen, up from 3.5 inches; LTE connectivity; and the replacement of the 30-pin connector with Lightning.
2013: iPhone 5S
Touch ID was the headline feature, plus the ability to shoot slo-mo video, and a dual-flash.
Also launched was the iPhone 5C, essentially a cheaper iPhone 5 with a plastic shell in bright colors.
2014: iPhone 6 and 6 Plus
The 6 Plus in particular generated a huge surge in sales, bringing Apple into what was then termed the “phablet” market: a phone with a screen size approaching that of some of the tablets of the day. It also got a higher-res screen, and 128GB top-end storage option.
2015: iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
No external changes, but the camera was upgraded from 8MP to 12MP, and model saw the launch of 3D Touch.
2016: iPhone SE
The iPhone SE was the iPhone 6s (minus 3D Touch) for those who wanted a more pocketable device, a throwback to the iPhone 4 slab-sided design, or a lower cost. I loved this so much I “downgraded” from the iPhone 6s.
2016: iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
A snazzy new Jet Black finish, water-resistance and a solid-state Home button. But the biggest improvement here was the dual-camera iPhone 7 Plus, with Portrait Mode – simulating shallow depth of field. Controversially, both models dropped the headphone jack, forcing people to use wireless headphones. Courage.
2017: iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
The headline feature was wireless charging, another long-awaited development. Apple took so long to introduce this that some wondered whether the company was waiting for long-range charging, but that was not to be. The models also got a True Tone display.
2017: iPhone X
But the big news in 2017 was, of course, the iPhone X. This was the model which brought Apple into the age of the all-screen design, as the company dropped the Home Button and introduced Face ID. The front-facing camera also got Portrait Mode.
2018: iPhone XS and XS Max
The big news here was the XS Max, bringing the new design language to a larger-screened device. Also added was dual-SIM support, stereo audio recording for video, and improved water-resistance.
Also launched this year was the iPhone XR, intended to bring the all-screen design to a broader market.
2019: iPhone 11 series
The ultrawide lens was born, along with some vivid new colors for the base model. The 11 Pro got a third camera, while the Pro Max provided the same features in a device with a far larger screen.
2020: iPhone 12 series
Notable for the launch of the iPhone 12 mini, an iPhone SE successor which aimed to bring similar capabilities to the flagship models, but in a smaller size. MagSafe was a headline feature this year, while the Pro and Pro Mag got increased optical zoom and a LiDAR scanner used for Night Mode. Photographers and videographers got RAW mode and Dolby Vision. Farewell, included chargers.
2021: iPhone 13 series
A smaller notch and twice the base storage were the main hardware changes, while Cinematic mode and Photographic Styles were headline features. For the first time, Apple offered a 1TB storage tier for videographers.
2022: iPhone 14 series
Headline features here included Emergency SOS via satellite, and in the Pro models a new 48MP sensor, the introduction of the Dynamic Island, and the always-on display. In the US, the physical SIM tray was removed in favor of eSIMs.
Which were your favorite iPhone models?
For me, the original iPhone SE definitely stands out, giving me greater pocketability and a return to the flat-sided design I vastly preferred to the rounded edges of the iPhone 6 series. The iPhone X was of course a huge development. The iPhone 12 was also a significant upgrade thanks to Night Mode and RAW photography.
What are your standout models? Please take our poll, and share the reasons in the comments.
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