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iPhone Evolution

The Evolution Of The iPhone

Indispensable life organisers and entertainment devices, our phones are, for many of us, rarely released from our clutching paws, and we'd be lost without them (quite literally, in the case of maps and GPS).

To celebrate the launch of Apple's latest handset, the iPhone 7, we've taken a look back at the most significant previous iPhones, starting with the original model that changed everything back in 2007.

Pre 2007

The Dark Ages

Before the iPhone, mobile phones were dull, soulless devices with tiny screens, rubbish games and incredibly, no Instagram or Snapchat.

The first handheld mobile phone was created in 1973 by Motorola and weighed a whopping 1.1kg and took 10 hours to charge. Since then mobile phones have come in many shapes and sizes, from large Trigger Happy TV-style handsets, to tiny flip phones, to the rise of the modern day phablet.

iPhone

2007

iPhone

In January 2007 Steve Jobs turned the world of mobile phones upside down when Apple introduced the original iPhone.

The first generation iPhone was positioned as a hybrid between a mobile phone, a tablet and an internet-accessible handheld device. It marked a shift away from physical keys, as seen on popular Blackberry models, and instead created a virtual touchscreen experience, complete with a QWERTY keyboard and Visual Voicemail.

It came with what would later be known as iOS 1, which supported text messaging, HTML email and maps.

The first iteration of the iPhone, however, was not without its criticism. Many couldn't get the hang of using a touchscreen, having been used to maneuvering the iPod wheel, while others craved the warm feel of being connected to 3G that you could get with rival phones.

At the time Stephen Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, commented on Apple's entry into the mobile phone market: “There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance”. 

Nevertheless, the original iPhone's impact cannot be underplayed — 74 days after its launch, one million handsets had been sold.

Processor
412 MHz
Memory
128 MB
Storage
4 GB / 8 GB
Screen
320 x 480 px, 160 ppi
Camera
2 Megapixel

2007 was quite the year…

  • The final book in J.K Rowling's Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released, selling over 11 million copies in the first 24 hours, becoming the fastest selling book in history.
  • Live Earth, a one off climate change concert, coverage broke online audience records. Over eight million people across the world watched over 15 million video streams and in less than a month 55 million video streams had been viewed.
  • Popstar Rihanna's hit Umbrella reigned in the UK music charts for a huge 10 weeks, making it the longest-running UK number one in the 21st century.

This first generation model was discontinued in 2008, but you can get a cracking deal on the latest iPhones at MoneySuperMarket.

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iPhone 3GS

2009

iPhone 3GS

The first major update with scorching speed - enough to set your pocket on fire.

The iPhone 3GS rocketed into the UK market in June 2009. It came jam packed with new features and functionality to set it apart from the rest.

It was twice as fast as the iPhone 3G, had a longer battery life and 100 new features such as cut and paste (a big deal back in 2009) and access to thousands of third party apps via the App store.

New storage sizes, 16GB and 32GB, meant you'd have even more space for apps, photos, songs and videos. Three days after its launch, one million devices had been sold (almost 25 times faster selling than its 1st generation predecessor.)

But, as was becoming commonplace with iPhone launches, commentary around the device was not without controversy.

The addition of an extra megapixel for the camera was slammed as not a big enough update, while much-anticipated push notifications only worked on a handful of apps.

Reports also emerged after the iPhone 3GS entered the market some smartphones would overheat quickly and stop working.

Processor
600 MHz
Memory
256 MB
Storage
8 GB / 16 GB / 32 GB
Screen
320 x 480 px, 160 ppi
Camera
3 Megapixel

Remember 2009?

  • Instant farmers were created thanks to social media simulation game Farmville. The gaming powerhouse had almost 73 million monthly active users, with 20% of all Facebook users checking their crops every month.
  • Online video records were smashed by Susan Boyle's audition on Britain's Got Talent. In nine days, her audition video attracted 103 million views.
  • Ashton Kutcher became the first person to achieve one million followers on Twitter, with news site CNN's Breaking News Twitter account coming in at a close second.

While the iPhone 3GS is no longer in production, you can check out other iPhone deals at MoneySuperMarket.

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iPhone 4

2010

iPhone 4

The “biggest leap” since the original iPhone, the iPhone 4 introduced video calling, selfies and “Antennagate”.

Apple's flagship smartphone underwent a makeover with the iPhone 4. It had been crafted with aluminosilicate glass (30x stronger than plastic), rather than plastic backs and tapered edges as used in previous generations, making it Apple's thinnest smartphone.

It was the first iPhone to come with a front-facing camera making it possible to make video calls through FaceTime and use Apple's voice application Siri.

While the reception of the iPhone 4 was generally positive, its release became entangled with technical problems. Some users reported that the signal strength of their device reduced when holding it in the lower left corner and direct contact with the antennae stopped phone calls being made.

Processor
800 MHz
Memory
512 MB
Storage
8 GB / 16 GB / 32 GB
Screen
640 x 490 px, 326 ppi
Camera
5 Megapixel

2010 — a year of heroes and antiheroes

  • An unexpected superstar following the 2010 World Cup, Paul the Octopus had an 85% success rate of predicting match results. Since passing away two years later, he has been featured on Google's homepage “doodle” and inspired the creation of an “Ask the Octopus” prediction app.
  • The World Cup's antihero took the form of the vuvuzela. At its peak around 10,000 vuvuzelas were sold a day in host country South Africa.
  • The world was kept on tenterhooks as 33 Chilean miners became trapped in a collapsed mine in the Atacama Desert. The government sent heroic and speedy doves into the mines with mini-cameras so footage could be sent to friends and family. One billion people across the world watched the miners' successful rescue 69 days after the mine collapsed.

Even though you won't be able to get a brand new iPhone 4 delivered to your door, by dove or any other means, you can still check out other iPhone models on our dedicated iPhone comparison page.

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iPhone 5

2012

iPhone 5

Tall, dark and handsome.

The iPhone 5 became Apple's most streamlined smartphone. It was 18% thinner and 20% lighter than its 4S predecessor and came with a longer-lasting battery compared to previous models.

While its design was visually similar to the iPhone 4S, the most significant update to the iPhone 5 was how light it felt when held thanks to its aluminium body rather than stainless steel.

It also came with a “Lightning” charging port which helped reduce the size of the model.

The headphone jack was also moved from the top to the bottom to sit alongside the charging port and new “EarPods” headphones came with the handset which had been redesigned to offer better sound quality.

The iPhone 5 was the first model with access to 4G and could also take panoramic pictures. 

All this sounds super positive right? However, while its praise was resounding, Apple had missed the mark on a number of design and technical points. The black version's back would scratch easily and some felt that the iOS software being used was beginning to feel dated.

The most widespread criticism of the iPhone 5 was the replacement of Google maps with Apple's, which lacked the functionality available on competitors' devices.

Processor
1.3 GHz
Memory
1 GB
Storage
16 GB / 32 GB / 64 GB
Screen
640 x 1136 px, 326 ppi
Camera
8 Megapixel

2012, a year of surprises…

  • South Korean K-Pop Psy's surprise global hit Gangnam Style became the first video to hit 1 billion views.
  • “Super Saturday” at the London Olympics surprised viewers and competitors alike, with team GB winning 6 gold medals, placing them third place in the medals table. The Spice Girls reunion set performed at the closing ceremony attracted a record 116,000 tweets per minute.
  • According to the Mayan calendar, December 12 marked the end of the world, but surprise — we are still here!
  • You can find out whether the iPhone SE (which is modelled on the iPhone 5) is the best choice for you by visiting MoneySuperMarket's iPhone comparison page.

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iPhone 6

2014

iPhone 6

Large and flexible, the iPhone aligns with its tablet colleagues.

As with most trends, mobile phone designs had gone full circle and returned back to the days of big and beefy, rather than small and slight like the iPhone 5.

In a bid to keep up with the likes of Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 and LG's G3, the iPhone 6 became Apple's largest mobile phone. It came with a host of new features including Apple Pay, Touch ID and synchronicity with the Apple Watch, which was unveiled at the same time.

Colour options were also revamped with new offerings in space grey, silver and gold. The iPhone 6's camera also underwent a number of improvements including a True Tone LED flash and Face Detection.

Four years on from “Antennagate”, Apple found itself embroiled in another “gate”, in the form of “Bendgate”. After the iPhone 6 was released, reports came to light that weak points in the shell of the device would cause the usually flat design of the phone to curve in shape. While curved screens were on the rise, this was not Apple's intention.

Processor
1.4 GHz
Memory
1 GB
Storage
16 GB / 64 GB / 128 GB
Screen
750 x 1334 px (6)
1080 x 1920 px (6 Plus)
326 ppi
Camera
8 Megapixel

All this also happened in 2014…

  • 2014 marked the year of the “super” apps, with the arrival of Snapchat, Uber, Flappy bird, and Kim Kardashian: Hollywood (the less said about breaking the internet in 2014 the better).
  • The ALS Association's viral charity campaign, the Ice Bucket Challenge, raised more than $10 million in 10 days, which helped with discovery of a new gene associated with the disease.
  • US presenter Ellen DeGeneres broke Twitter records, with her “Oscar Selfie” becoming the most retweeted photo of all time with over 2.5 million shares.

Fancy getting your hands on a handset from the iPhone 6 series? Visit MoneySuperMarket to compare iPhone deals.

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The wait is over.
This is 7

iPhone 7
iPhone 7 iPhone 7 iPhone 7 iPhone 7

2016

iPhone 7

Hit the road, Jack

Never one to shy away from disrupting the world of smartphones, the iPhone 7 came with a host of features that have really got people talking.

As Apple's first water resistant model, the iPhone 7 comes with an enhanced front and rear-facing camera, seven megapixels and 12 megapixels respectively, along with Retina Flash for a perfect selfie.

The colour choices have also had a shake-up, with matte black and gloss black added to the mix, alongside silver, gold and rose gold.

The home button has also had a revamp and, instead of a physical push-down button, a smooth responsive surface will allow you to access your welcome screen.

One of the most divisive aspects of the iPhone 7 has been the removal of the headphone jack. A Lightning port has been put in its place and instead wireless headphones, such as Apple's AirPods' can be used to listen to your favourite tunes.

Some have praised the move by Apple, while others have been less than pleased particularly as you won't be able to charge your phone if using the adapter (supplied with the phone) for your current headphones.

Processor
2.23 GHz
Memory
2 GB (7)
3 GB (7 Plus)
Storage
32 GB / 128 GB / 256 GB
Screen
750 x 1334 px (6)
1080 x 1920 px (7 Plus)
326 ppi
Camera
12 Megapixel

2016, a year with more to come

  • A viral superstar was created in the form of “Chewbacca mom”. Her live video of laughing while wearing a Chewbacca mask became the most viewed Facebook Live video of all time. She has since been invited to visit Facebook HQ by Mark Zuckerberg and has been featured on Star Wars official YouTube channel.
  • The Pokémon Go app became a global phenomenon, with over 500 million global downloads.
  • Leicester City won the Premier League having started the season with 5,000:1 odds on winning. Over the winning weekend, the team's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter followers increased by 250,000.

Avoid waiting any longer for the iPhone 7 by checking out our iPhone 7 contract deals.

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iPhone vs iPhone

How does the latest and greatest stack up against its predecessors?

Speed
iPhone
iPhone 3GS
iPhone 4
iPhone 5
iPhone 6
iPhone 7
Memory
iPhone
iPhone 3GS
iPhone 4
iPhone 5
iPhone 6
iPhone 7
Storage (Max)
iPhone
iPhone 3GS
iPhone 4
iPhone 5
iPhone 6
iPhone 7
Weight
iPhone
iPhone 3GS
iPhone 4
iPhone 5
iPhone 6
iPhone 7

Speeds calculated based on Geekbench scores. Single and multi core scores averaged for multi core processors

Apple's newest iPhone looks pretty tempting right?

Whether you use your iPhone to share awe-inspiring stories, stay connected to wider world or for capturing those picture perfect moments, the iPhone plays a special role in how we live our lives.

Create new memories with the iPhone 7 by checking out our deals.

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