Fifteen years ago today, Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPhone.
From its humble beginnings as a bulky device dismissed by naysayers for being too expensive for mass markets, to something many people can’t imagine living without. It’s been a wild ride, in fact it feels like just yesterday we were celebrating the 10th anniversary. Speculation for the iPhone 14 has already started, but let’s take a minute to look back and celebrate the iPhone’s 15th birthday.
2007: The very first iPhone
The iPhone was such a novel concept that Steve Jobs introduced it by describing it as a touchscreen iPod that makes calls and also has the internet. But with a puny 4GB of storage and a $499 price tag, the world would forever be changed.
2008: The iPhone we know and love starts to take form
The the first iPhone was really about introducing the concept, but the second generation of iPhone came with the iconic features that are now ubiquitous to smartphone users: GPS tracking, the App Store, and push notifications.
2009: “Twice as fast, at half the price”
The third generation unveiled an early iteration of voice control, sophisticated camera features that established the iPhone as the gold standard of this feature for many years to come, and baseline storage of 16GB for $199.
2010: A new design comes with new problems
It’s hard to imagine a phone without a front-facing camera, but thanks to the iPhone 4, we don’t have to. This iPhone’s squared-off edges was a departure from its rounded predecessors. Unfortunately, the design came at a cost. Because of the internal placement of the antenna, holding the iPhone inhibited network reception. With its new retina display, there were also many complaints of a yellowish discoloration that prompted an official statement from Apple.
2011: The world says hello to Siri, but farewell to Steve Jobs
Apple introduced several new features that still impact the way we interact with technology: Siri — an evolved but not perfect — form of the previous virtual assistant, iCloud storage, and iMessage. After stepping down as CEO several weeks earlier, a day after the iPhone 4s was released, Steve Jobs died of complications from pancreatic cancer.
2012: This year’s big reveal is… a lightning port?
This year’s iPhone was thinner, lighter, and featured a lightning port instead of the 30-pin dock connector. The somewhat underwhelming announcements prompted people to wonder about the future of Apple without Steve Jobs.
2013: Apple experiments with the two-tiered model
iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s
This was the first year that Apple unveiled two iPhones to appeal to budget-friendly consumers. The iPhone 5s came with the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the home button, AirDrop, and new camera features like Burst Mode and Slo-Mo videos. The iPhone 5s had mostly the same features but was with made plastic casing instead of metal. The iPhone 5s and 5c failed to impress investors which reignited concerns about Apple without Jobs.
2014: The iPhone goes big
iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
With the 5c and 5s also on the market, there were now four different models of the iPhone, which would become commonplace as Apple continued to release several new models ever year. At 4.7 and 5.5 inches respectively, the larger iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were a big hit especially in Chinese markets. Apple also introduced us to Apple Pay and the Health app.
2015: Rose gold captures the hearts of millennials everywhere
iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus
For a few years now, the annual iPhone events revealed less groundbreaking features and more all-around advances and improvements. This year was no different, unless you consider the rose gold color option as groundbreaking.
2016: RIP headphone jack
iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone SE
Apple removed the headphone jack to apparently make room for other internal components, which caused an uproar. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus came with a headphone adaptor, but as Mashable accurately described, “It’s a miserable compromise that adds a bouncy white phallus to your otherwise sleek iPhone.” Ouch.
2017: You can now unlock your phone with your face
iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X
With the iPhone X, Apple introduced Face ID, which also meant the removal of the home screen button but the addition of the controversial notch. In case this was too much of a change for Apple users, there was also the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus that had a more classic design.
2018: All-around upgrades are enough to please the masses
iPhone Xs, iPhone Xs Max, iPhone XR
Big edge-to-edge screens (5.8-inch for the iPhone Xs and 6.5-inch for the iPhone Xs Max), OLED display and advanced camera features made this generation a worthy improvement of the iPhone X.
2019: Sure, let’s add another lens
iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max
All jokes aside about the flashy three-lens design, the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro received favorable reviews and is still considered a good buy several generations later, thanks to its camera features and long battery life.
2020: The iPhone gets 5G
iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone SE 2nd Gen
This was touted as the first iPhone with built-in 5G, but insiders knew that was mostly a marketing ploy since 5G wasn’t (and still isn’t) that useful yet. Apple also released a mini version of the standard size, but it lagged in sales, suggesting that sometimes bigger is better.
2021: The iPhone may have jumped the shark, but it doesn’t really matter
iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max
While not a game-changer, all-around improvements to battery life, camera, and battery life has made the iPhone 13 generally a hit, despite its hefty price tag, that stubborn notch, and criticisms that the tech giant has been coasting for a while. Regardless, the world will be watching to see what Apple comes up with next.
Happy birthday iPhone, here’s to 15 more.