Tech Transformers

Apple’s iPhone turns 10: Here’s a look at the smartphone through the last decade


was credited with revolutionizing personal technology and communication devices when it unveiled its first iPhone in January 2007.

Since then, the smartphone market has exploded with over 1 billion devices shipping each year.

"The iPhone changed everything, it changed the entire market, it changed what people thought a mobile phone should be. It took the smartphone market – which was a niche section of the market – mainstream," Ian Fogg, head of mobile at IHS Markit, told CNBC by phone.

"No question Apple revolutionized nearly every technology product. If you buy any technology product it connects to the smartphone. The smartphone is the hub that connects people to their digital lives."

Apple celebrates the tenth anniversary of the unveiling of the iPhone on Monday and CNBC takes a look at the evolution of the handset through the last decade.


Steve Jobs holds up the original iPhone at the Macworld Conference 09 January 2007 in San Francisco, California.
Tony Avelar | AFP | Getty Images

Launch date: January 9, 2007

On January 9, 2007, the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs declared, "Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone."

They were words that rang true in the years to come with the iPhone. Apple was by no means the first to market with a touch screen device, but the user friendliness and sleek design really appealed to consumers.

"The touch screen, despite not being the first phone to have one, completely changed the way we interact with devices," Francisco Jeronimo, research director for European mobile devices at IDC, told CNBC in a phone interview.

The first generation iPhone had a 3.5-inch screen, far smaller than the plus 5-inch screens on the market today. It boasted a 2-megapixel camera, which at the time was behind competitors like Nokia. This quickly changed with subsequent models however. But the original iPhone did not have any third-party apps, video recording or GPS.

iPhone 3G

Apple CEO Steve Jobs announces aGPS feature on the new iPhone 3G as he delivers the keynote address at the Apple Worldwide Web Developers Conference June 9, 2008 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Launch date: June 9, 2008

The next iteration of the iPhone introduced GPS and 3G data, as well as the next version of the iOS operating system.

But what was significant about this device wasn't so much the hardware, it was the introduction of the App Store, which has become an increasingly important revenue driver for Apple. In 2016, developers raked in $20 billion on the App Store, while analysts suggest that Apple made at least $8 billion in revenue.

"It was the biggest revolution in the last few years in technology, it revolutionized the way we interact with services and what we can do not just with the phone but with other devices," Jeronimo told CNBC.

"Apps changed the way we interact with the internet because we can access almost anything today."

iPhone 3GS

An iPhone 3G S sits on display at an Apple store in New York, U.S., on Friday, June 19, 2009.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Launch date: June 8, 2009

Fogg describes the 3GS as a "pragmatic" upgrade to the previous version of the iPhone. The third iPhone in the series came with an improved 3-megapixel camera and for the first time, introduced a 32-gigabyte model.

Apple spent a lot of time talking up the "autofocus camera" and the "tap to focus" feature allowing you to touch an object or area on the screen so the camera automatically adjusts focus on light exposure.

iPhone 4

Steve Jobs, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., demonstrates the FaceTime video call functionality of the iPhone 4 during his keynote address at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, June 7, 2010.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Launch date: June 7, 2010

The iPhone 4's first striking feature was the new design, featuring a glass and stainless steel body with Apple declaring it as "the thinnest smartphone in the world" at the time.

Apple introduced a retina display for the first time, making the screen the highest quality on an iPhone so far. And the iPhone 4 also sported an improved 5-megapixel camera, with Apple finally catching up with rivals such as Nokia.

"They were starting to compete in areas which consumers cared about but they couldn't fit it in the 2007 original iPhone. From thereon, the camera became a signature feature of the product," Fogg said.

FaceTime was also launched in conjunction with the iPhone 4 allowing people to make video calls over Wi-Fi to other users of the device. Jobs hailed this and the iPhone 4 as the "biggest leap since the original iPhone". He said that Apple had been dreaming about retina display and FaceTime "for decades".

iPhone 4S

A man uses 'Siri' on the new iPhone 4S after being one of the first customers in the Apple store in Covent Garden on October 14, 2011 in London, England.
Oli Scarff | Getty Images

Launch date: October 4, 2011

Apple launched the updated iOS 5 operating system with the iPhone 4s which brought in many of the features that users today find so popular.

A bolstered camera allowed for high-definition video recording while the voice assistant Siri – which Apple acquired in 2010 – was first introduced onto the company's flagship device.

Apple's iMessage, which allowed iPhone users to send messages, photos and videos, to each other, was also unveiled as part of the software update. And iCloud – which allows users to store documents, photos, music and other files remotely – made its first appearance.

Much of this marked Apple's ecosystem play by attempting to lock users into the company's products from apps to messaging, and is behind why it has such a loyal user base.

This was also the first iPhone to be released under newly-appointed CEO Tim Cook after .

iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 is displayed at an Apple Store on September 21, 2012 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Launch date: September 12, 2012

The iPhone 5 was the first model capable of 4G mobile data connectivity.

Apple continued to play with the form and made the phone taller with a 4-inch screen, and thin aluminum frame which was 18 percent thinner than the 4S model.

The camera continued to improve with new software features such as the "panorama" mode and a front facing high-definition "selfie" camera to improve FaceTime calls.

Apple also included newly-designed headphones called "EarPods" (not to be confused with the latest wireless "AirPods") with the iPhone 5.

iPhone 5S/5C

The iPhone 5C is seen on display at the Fifth Avenue Apple store in New York City.
Getty Images

Launch date: September 10, 2013

The 2013 launch event marked the first time Apple introduced two different iPhone models during one keynote – the .

A fingerprint sensor was built into the 5S in what Apple called "the most forward-thinking smartphone in the world". Apple wasn't the first to introduce a fingerprint sensor (like many of its other features) but it has become a popular tool to unlock the phone and became an enabler for services like Apple Pay.

Fogg notes that Apple was the first however to introduce a 64-bit processor, which the company said brought "desktop-class architecture to a smartphone".

"They beat the rest of the market by 18 months to two years," Fogg told CNBC.

At the same event, Apple launched the iPhone 5C – a model with different colored plastic backs and a lower price point than the flagship. Apple's aim was to create a device that appealed to consumers in emerging markets with a cheaper device that had many of the features found in the 5S.

iPhone 6/6 Plus

Tim Cook announces Apple Pay during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California.
Getty Images

Launch date: September 9, 2014

Apple continued bringing out more than one model of its iPhone and for the first time introduced a large screen version.

The 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus was announced alongside the smaller 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and gave Apple a product that could compete in the large-screen "phablet" market that Samsung had been dominating.

Apple continued to improve the internal processors as well as adding in new sensors to help track certain health characteristics. The company also introduced the Apple Pay contactless payment system with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which has continued to see growth. CEO Tim Cook said on the firm's fiscal fourth-quarter earnings call that there were more Apple Pay transactions in September 2016, than there were in the entire fiscal year of 2015.

iPhone 6S/6S Plus

Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller speaks on stage during a Special Event at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium September 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California.
Getty Images

Launch date: September 9, 2015

The "S" models of the iPhone 6 brought incremental updates to hardware – better processor, battery life and camera.

Apple introduced "3D Touch" for the first time which lets users carry out certain tasks depending on how much pressure they put on the screen. "Live Photos" also made an appearance allowing users to capture the moment before and after the shot was taken.

"The only thing that has changed with iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus is everything," Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, declared in a press release at the time.

iPhone SE

Apple iPhone SE on display at an Apple event in Cupertino, Calif. on March 21, 2016.
Mark Neuling | CNBC

Launch date: March 21, 2016

The iPhone SE is very similar to the iPhone 5 in looks, but it had much of the advancement in camera technology and processors that the iPhone 6S had.

At the time, it may have seemed like a fairly minor upgrade, but the phone served a pragmatic function – to access customers who didn't want any of Apple's more expensive and larger screen phones.

Shortly after the iPhone SE was announced, IHS Markit released a note estimating that of the iPhone models in active use, 29 percent are iPhone 5 models with four inch screens, and 23 percent are even older iPhone models with screens sized just three and half inches. So the iPhone SE was created to appeal to this user base.

"The SE was about understanding the user base and a group of people who want a smaller screen and providing a device for that market segment. It's nothing new, but it was about Apple understanding their customers very well. I don't know that many vendors that can know their customer base as well as Apple," Jeronimo told CNBC.

iPhone 7/7Plus

New Apple iPhone 7
Source: Apple

Launch date: September 7, 2016

The iPhone 7 continued Apple's path of improving the under-the-hood hardware, camera, and battery performance.

On the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple introduced a dual-lens 12-megapixel camera for the first time and a new front-facing 7-megapixel sensor.

Apple also took the controversial move or axing the headphone jack and introduced the wireless AirPods.

Siri has taken on a more prominent role too, interacting with more apps and even being accessible via the AirPods.