The History of The iPhone: Apple’s Development From a 3.5" To a 6.7" Screen

iPhones have come a long way since American multinational technology company Apple revolutionized the smartphone industry in 2007. 

Years earlier, in 2004, development began when Apple gathered a team of 1,000 employees - led by hardware engineer Tony Fadell, software engineer Scott Fortsall and design officer Jony Ive - to work on the ‘Project Purple’.

The original focus was a tablet (now the iPad); however, then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs - who left the company in 2011, just six weeks before his death - soon steered the focus towards a smartphone. 

The first-ever iPhone was then unveiled to the public on January 9, 2007. Now, 17 years and lots of development later, there are 38 different models of the iPhone. 

Here, we’ll look at the timeline of the iPhone, from the iPhone 2G released in 2007 to the iPhone 14 Pro Max released in 2022.

iPhone 2G to iPhone 4s

Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple from 1997 to 2011, unveiled the first-ever iPhone at the annual Macworld convention in San Francisco on January 9, 2007. The iPhone 2G, which had a 3.5-inch display, then launched on June 29 at a starting price of $499 in the United States. It required a two-year contract with American multinational telecommunications AT&T.

At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2008 on July 11, Apple announced the iPhone 3G, which introduced faster 3G connectivity but had a lower starting price of $199. It still required a two-year AT&T contract but was eventually released in 70 countries and territories.

Its successor, the iPhone 3GS, which introduced video recording, was announced on June 8, 2009, at Apple’s WWDC 2009.

The iPhone 4, which had a redesigned body with a stainless steel frame and a rear glass panel, was announced a year later at WWDC 2010. It was marketed as the “world’s thinnest smartphone” and became the first iPhone to use an Apple custom-designed chip, the Apple A4 processor. 

The iPhone 4G had four times the display resolution of previous iPhones and was the highest-resolution smartphone screen at the time. A front-facing camera was also introduced, which enabled users to video call via FaceTime.

The iPhone 4s, which was announced on October 4, 2011, introduced virtual assistant Siri.

iPhone 5, 5s and 5c

The iPhone 5 was announced on September 12, 2012, and was the first iPhone with a larger 4-inch screen and 4G LTE connectivity. However, it had a thinner and lighter body made of aluminum alloy. The iPhone 5 also introduced the lightning connector as the charging port we know today. 

The iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c were announced on September 10, 2013. The iPhone 5s saw the introduction of the Touch ID fingerprint. Meanwhile, The iPhone 5c was a lower-cost device that incorporated hardware from the iPhone 5 into a series of colorful plastic frames.

iPhone 6 to iPhone 7 Plus

Apple introduced mobile payment technology, Apple Pay, in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which were released on September 19, 2014. The 6 had a 4.7-inch screen, whilst the iPhone 6 Plus had a 5.5-inch screen and additional optical image stabilization in its camera.

The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus were introduced on September 9, 2015. They included a more bend-resistant frame made of a stronger aluminum alloy - due to customer complaints of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus bending - and a higher resolution primary camera capable of 4K video recording.

The first-generation iPhone SE was introduced on March 21, 2016. It was a lower-cost device that incorporated hardware from the iPhone 6s but looked like the iPhone 5s.

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were announced on September 7, 2016, and despite having the same screen size as the 6 and 6 Plus, the models had larger camera sensors. The headphone jack was removed, and the phones were designed to be water and dust resistant.

A second camera lens was added to the 7 Plus, enabling two-times optical zoom and portrait photography mode (which blurs the background of a photo).

iPhone 8 to iPhone XS

The iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X were announced on September 12, 2017. All models featured rear glass panel designs, similar to the iPhone 4, and wireless charging.

The iPhone X additionally introduced a 5.8-inch “Super Retina” display and a stronger frame made of stainless steel. The home button was removed to make room for additional screen space, replacing it with a gesture-based navigation system and introducing Face ID instead of Touch ID. 

The iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and XS Max were announced on September 12, 2018. The XR included a 6.1-inch LCD “Liquid Retina” display but did not include a second telephoto lens and was made, in a series of vibrant colors, as a lower-cost device than the iPhone X and XS. Meanwhile, the XS Max introduced a larger 6.5-inch screen. 

iPhone 11 to iPhone 12 Pro Max

The iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max were announced on September 10, 2019. The iPhone 11 was the successor to the iPhone XR, while the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max succeeded the iPhone XS and XS Max. All models attained an ultra-wide lens, enabling two-times optical zoom out, and were made to have a longer battery life.

The second-generation iPhone SE was introduced on April 17, 2020, as a lower-cost device that incorporated hardware from the iPhone 11 but looked like the iPhone 8, meaning the re-introduction of the home button and Touch ID.

The iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max were announced via a live stream event - due to the Coronavirus pandemic - on October 13, 2020. All models featured OLED “Super Retina XDR” displays, faster 5G connectivity, a slimmer flat-edged design, and the MagSafe magnetic charging and accessory system.

The iPhone 12 Mini had a 5.4-inch screen, while the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max had larger screens of 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch, respectively. The iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max additionally added a Lidar sensor for better accuracy in augmented reality (AR) applications.

iPhone 13 to iPhone 14 Pro Max

The iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max were announced via a live stream event on September 14, 2021. All models featured larger camera sensors, larger batteries for longer battery life, and a narrower cutout where the front camera is. 

The iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max additionally introduced a 120 Hz refresh rate (up from 60 Hz) and three times optical zoom.

The lower-cost third-generation iPhone SE was introduced on March 8, 2022. It incorporated the A15 Bionic chip from the iPhone 13 but retained similar hardware to the second-generation SE from 2020.

The iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max were announced on September 7, 2022, and the satellite emergency calling functionality was introduced. The iPhone 14 Plus had a large 6.7-inch screen size, first seen on the iPhone 12 Pro Max, but was a lower-cost device.

The iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max also introduced a higher-resolution main camera, the first increase in the megapixel count since the iPhone 6s, and always-on display technology and an interactive status bar into its redesigned screen cutout.

Throughout the years, Apple has also released updated models of its iMac computers, MacBook laptops and iPads. 

The company also makes several wearable, home and accessory products, including AirPods, the Apple TV, Apple Watch smartwatches, Beats headphones and HomePod Mini smart speakers.

At WWDC 2023, Apple introduced its upcoming VR headset and smart glasses, Vision Pro. Following in the footsteps of Ray-Ban’s Stories, Amazon’s Echo Frames and Snapchat’s Spectacles. There is yet to be an official release date for the Vision Pro, but in the meantime, you can follow this link to shop for trendy non-Bluetooth eyewear.