A decade ago, Steve Jobs held up the first iPhone on stage at the Macworld conference. Since then, the company has built a multibillion-dollar empire with an annual succession of shiny new smartphone models — hyped with superlatives — to keep iPhone devotees on a continuous cycle of coveting the latest and greatest upgrade.
Apple is expected to unveil the latest in the flagship line, the iPhone X, on Tuesday, Sept. 12. Here’s a look back at the evolution of the product that transformed Apple into the biggest tech company in the world.
January 2007: Apple described the very first iPhone as melding three products in one: a phone, an iPod, and an internet-communications device. Quaintly, it boasted of its “stunning 3.5-inch widescreen display.” “iPhone is a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone,” Jobs said at time. Price: $499 (4 GB model), $599 (8 GB model).
June 2008, iPhone 3G: Just a year after shipping the first one, Apple launched a second-gen model that was twice as fast and had double the storage — for half the price. Price: $199 (8 GB), $299 (16 GB) with two-year AT&T contract.
June 2009, iPhone 3GS: Billed as twice as fast as the iPhone 3G, with longer battery life, a 3-megapixel camera and more. Apple sold more than 1 million the first weekend it went on sale. The 3GS again doubled capacity for the same price as the prior-generation model. Price: $199 (16 GB), $299 (32 GB) with two-year AT&T contract.
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July 2009: App Store exceeds 1.5 billion downloads in first year; Apple touts 65,000+ apps from 100,000+ developers.
June 2010, iPhone 4: The model that introduced FaceTime, the fourth-generation iPhone was much thinner (at 9.3 millimeters) and included a 5-megapixel camera and HD video recording. After users complained of reception issues, Apple blamed the problem on an error in how it calculated signal strength and issued a software update. The white iPhone 4 was delayed until April 2011. Price: $199 (16 GB), $299 (32 GB) with two-year AT&T contract
February 2011: iPhone 4 becomes available on Verizon Wireless.
August 2011: Jobs steps down as CEO; Tim Cook, formerly Apple’s COO, is named new chief executive.
October 2011, iPhone 4S: Hyped as “the most amazing iPhone yet,” it’s the model that introduced the Siri voice assistant and iCloud. Price: $199 (16 GB), $299 (32 GB), $399 (64 GB) with two-year wireless contract.
September 2012, iPhone 5: The model featured a 4-inch display and skinnied down to a thickness of 7.6 millimeters. The 5 also introduced the Lightning connector instead of the 32-pin dongle, and had an 8-megapixel camera. Apple sold over 5 million iPhone 5 units the first weekend. Price: Same as iPhone 4S.
September 2013, iPhone 5s and 5c: The 5s introduced the Touch ID fingerprint scanner — which the iPhone X reportedly will not include — and came in gold, silver or space gray. The 5c cheaper multicolored line was available in five colors: blue, green, pink, yellow and white. Price: 5s — $199 (16 GB), $299 (32 GB), $399 (64 GB); 5c — $99 (16 GB), $199 (32 GB) with qualifying wireless contract.
September 2014, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: The sixth generation featured bigger screens, at 4.7 inches with 1 million+ pixels for the baseline model, and a 5.5-inch, 2 million+ pixel displays for the 6 Plus. Apple sold more than 10 million of the devices (Cook: “the biggest advancements in iPhone history”) over the first weekend. The company also launched Apple Pay. Price: 6 — $199 (16 GB), $299 (64 GB), $399 (128 GB); 6 Plus — $299 (16 GB), $399 (64 GB), $499 (128 GB) with qualifying two-year wireless contract.
September 2015, iPhone 6s and 6s Plus: Same screen sizes as the prior year’s models, while adding a new “3D Touch” feature to let users “peek” at items like an email message using fingertip pressure, and a 12-megapixel camera capable of capturing 4K Ultra HD video. Pricing: Same as iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
March 2016, iPhone SE: Model with a 4-inch screen that has the same 64-bit A9 processor as in the iPhone 6s. Pricing: $399 (16 GB), $499 (64 GB)
July 2016: Apple announces that it has sold 1 billion iPhones to date.
September 2016, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus: Touted as the first water- and dust-resistant iPhone, last year’s models eliminated the standard headphone jack to use Lightning-based headphones or Apple’s new AirPods (wireless earbuds sold separately for $159) which encountered shipping delays. Pricing: 7 — $649 (32 GB), $749 (128 GB), $849 (256 GB); 7 Plus: $769 (32 GB), $869 (128 GB), $969 (256 GB)
June 2017: App Store users have downloaded more than 180 billion apps to date, and Apple says it’s paid more than $70 billion to app developers since 2008.