The iPhone through the Ages

by Corinne Webb | Jun 03, 2011

There are many things I’m sure I’ll remember when I’m a crusty old man. First kiss – Shelly McDonald when I was 12 years old. First car – my banana-coloured Mini Metro when I was 17. First love – Wonder Woman’s Lynda Carter.

The first time I saw an iPhone was just as memorable. I remember thinking it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen, heavy and well-built but sleek at the same time. I spent about ten minutes flicking through pictures and zooming in and out on random details, and seeing how far I could scroll through the contact lists with just one mega-flick. I was gutted when I finally had to give it back to my friend.

It wasn’t long before I had my own, and I realised that even though it was by far the best telephone on the market, it still had plenty of room for improvement. Three subsequent models have now been released, each one with improvements – and some drawbacks – over its predecessors. This is how the iPhone story has unfolded so far…

iPhone Released back in June 2007, the iPhone “changed everything” according to Apple. It was indeed revolutionary, with a multi-touch touchscreen and only four physical buttons on the handset. The 4gb or 8gb models came with Wi-Fi, Edge, 128mb of RAM and a 413mhz processor. It was heralded as an iPod, a web browser and a telephone all wrapped into one sexy little package. However, the 2mpx camera on the back of the phone was a bit lame, and didn’t support video. The headphone jack was recessed – meaning you had to use Apple’s earphones to listen to your tunes. And you couldn’t use it to send media messages like photos and audio. It was a revolution, and raised the bar in the market, but Apple still had lots of work to do. For the first time, users began to take out insurance policies on their phones due to the relatively fragile screen.

iPhone 3G Just over a year later, the second model was released. The form factor changed slightly, with a 100% plastic body being preferred over the aluminium casing of the original model. It was also available in black or white, and the headphone jack was now flush with the casing too. Aside from these cosmetic changes, there was only one other major change – the introduction of 3G telephony and faster mobile internet. Inside, the phone was basically the same and Apple came under fire for charging more money for essentially the same piece of kit. In fact, battery performance was even a little better on the original model.

iPhone 3GS The iPhone 3GS brought bigger changes and improvements that really counted. Performance increased dramatically, with double the processing speed and double the RAM. The camera jumped to 3mpx and high quality video at 30fps. Other bonuses included a digital compass, voice control and a 32gb model for the first time.

iPhone 4 Apple promised that the iPhone 4 would “change everything all over again,” and it’s true but it came at a cost. The new form factor is simply beautiful, with toughened glass on the front and back and an aluminium rim that acts as an antenna. RAM is up to 512mb, and the processor clocks in at a cool 1ghz. The camera now boasts 5mpx and records HD video. Best of all is the Retina Display – with a resolution so high that it’s impossible for the human eye to discern individual pixels. However, problems with reception and call-dropping have been well-publicised, with Apple being forced into giving away a free rubber insulator to prevent the problem.

iPhone 5 Who knows what to expect from the next instalment… Maybe it will just be minor improvements on the iPhone 4, or maybe it will be another great leap. It will almost certainly be slimmer, sleeker and faster, as each model has been so far. Rumours abound online but as usual Apple bosses are keeping their cards very close to their chest. With a release date as yet uncertain, the rumours are likely to reach boiling point over the next few months. Ultimately though, only time will tell.

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