Evolution of All iPhone Models: 17 Years of Innovation

March 1, 2024 • Devin Partida


The iPhone has come a long way since Steve Jobs first announced the now-iconic device at the Macworld convention in January 2007. Since then, at least one new model has been released yearly, each more advanced than its predecessor. Explore the evolution of all iPhone models to date. 

iPhone (2007)

Described as a “magical product five years ahead of any other mobile phone,” it’s safe to say the iPhone lived up to its hype. It is a mobile phone, an iPod® with touch controls and an internet communicator, all on one handheld device. 

The iPhone featured a 3.5-inch display, a 2 MP camera and 128MB of RAM. It ran on OS 1.0, which powered apps like Google Maps, Safari Browser and the iTunes Store. The phone launched at a retail price of $499 and sold nearly 1.4 million units in 2007. 

iPhone 3G (2008) 

Standout Features: App Store, 3G connectivity, GPS

The iPhone 3G built on the success of its predecessor, introducing the era of the app. 3G meant quicker internet access plus 500 applications available for download. The phone launched at $199 and sold over one million units in just three days. 

iPhone 3GS (2009)

Standout Features: 3 MP camera, 480p video, voice control, 256 MB RAM

The iPhone 3GS retained the form factor of the 3G variant as Apple decided to focus more on its internal workings. As a result, it has a faster processing capacity and more intuitive functions. The phone had sold over 30 million units worldwide by the first quarter of 2010.

iPhone 4 (2010) 

Standout Features: Facetime, IPS LCD screen, 5 MP camera, Retina Display 

The iPhone 4 introduced the front-facing camera, marking the arrival of video chatting. It ran on iOS 4.0 and was powered by the Apple A4 processor. The phone sold for $199 at launch, hitting 1.7 million unit sales within the first three days. 

iPhone 4S (2011) 

Standout Features: Siri, 8 MP camera, 1080p recording, iCloud

Where the ‘S’ in 3GS stands for speed, the ‘S’ in the iPhone 4S stands for Siri, the smart voice assistant. The introduction of Siri sparked a revolution in mobile technology, as did cloud storage. Apple sold four million units in the first week of launch. 

iPhone 5 (2012) 

Standout Features: 4-inch screen, 1 GB RAM, Lightning connector, LTE

The iPhone 5 was the last Apple device overseen by Steve Jobs. Its biggest upgrades came from 4G connectivity and a smaller port for quicker charging. Demand for the iPhone 5 was massive, with reports of stores across the U.S. selling out within the first day. 

iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C (2013) 

Standout Features: Touch ID, 64-bit processor, dual-LED flash, gold shell

The iPhone 5S heralded a new way for users to unlock their phones and pay for apps with the Fingerprint Touch ID. Bluetooth-sharing feature AirDrop was also introduced as part of the OS features in 2013. The iPhone 5C is similar to its precursor, except it comes in white, yellow, pink, blue and green plastic. 

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (2014) 

Standout Features: 4.7 – 5.5 inch display, Apple Pay, 128 GB storage

The iPhone 6 series is one of Apple’s best-selling touchscreen phones, with over 220 million units sold worldwide. Both models featured a redesigned, thinner profile powered by the new A8 processor. However, the main highlight was the NFC functionality, which allowed users to use their phones for online purchases. 

iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus (2015) 

Standout Features: 3D Touch, 12 MP camera, 2 GB RAM

The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus benefited from the new A9 chip with up to 70% more CPU and 90% better graphics performance. 3D Touch enabled pressure-sensitive inputs, allowing the device to pull up sub-menus when you firmly press and hold a screen icon. 

iPhone SE, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (2016) 

Standout Features: Waterproofing, dual camera system, air pods, 256 GB storage

The iPhone SE had all the awesome internal specs of the iPhone 6S but was smaller and more affordable. iPhones 7 and 7 Plus launched later that year boasting water resistance and the new A10 Fusion processor. No headphone jack meant users required a lightning cable headphone jack or wireless air pods. 

iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X (2017) 

Standout Features: 5.8-inch Super AMOLED display, wireless charging, Siri Translations, Face ID

iPhones 8 and 8 Plus hit the market with a new glass design capable of wireless charging. The Plus model was larger and featured improved dual rear cameras. Apple skipped the iPhone 9 and went straight to the iPhone X, which was released later in 2017. It introduced Face ID as a new biometric security feature and removed the home button. 

iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR (2018) 

Standout Features: 5.8 – 6.5 inch display, 4 GB RAM, Group FaceTime, dual 12 MP camera

The iPhone XS and XS Max came with the advanced A12 bionic chip and a storage option of up to 512 gigabytes. The iPhone XR was released a month later at a more affordable retail price of $749. 

iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max (2019) 

Standout Features: Triple 12 MP camera, A13 bionic processor, 12 MP front camera

The iPhone 11 offered a night mode for taking better images in low light conditions, while the Pro version came with three rear cameras for better video capture quality. The iPhone 11 Pro Max had a larger display and a longer-lasting battery. It retailed for $1,099 at launch. 

iPhone SE (2nd Gen),  iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro (2020) 

Standout Features: XDR OLED display, 5G connectivity, Ceramic Shield screen protection, 6 GB RAM

The iPhone 12 series introduced a redesigned home screen and app tracking transparency. Combined, all four iPhone 12 variants sold over 100 million units worldwide. 

iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max (2021)

Standout Features: 5.4 – 6.7 inch display, up to 5-core GPU, A15 bionic chip, bigger battery

iPhones 13 and 13 mini reverted to the dual rear cameras, while the 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max retained the triple camera + lidar technology of the iPhone 12 Pro. The biggest highlight of the series was quick charging, which allowed users to charge their iPhone 13 to 99% in 1.5 hours when connected to Apple’s 20W USB-C Power Adapter.

iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max (2022)

Standout Features: Dynamic island notch, eSim connectivity, Crash Detection and Emergency SOS via Satellite

The launch of the iPhone 14 and its variants marked the first time Apple has completely done away with physical SIM cards. iPhones 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max are where the main upgrades shine, with one 48 MP camera and two 12 MP cameras. These variants also use the A16 bionic processor. 

iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max (2023)

Standout Features: 48 + 12 MP camera, USB-C charging, improved security features, 6-core GPU, Dolby Vision support, up to 8GB RAM 

As with the previous year, the main changes appear on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max variants. These include bigger batteries, titanium casing, A17 Pro processor and up to 1 TB of storage. There’s also an action button that users can configure to do other things like open the camera or record a voice memo.

When Will the iPhone 16 Be Released? 

If past release dates are anything to go by, Apple should launch the iPhone 16 generation in September 2024. However, it’s still too early to predict much about it. The most widely circulating rumors indicate the iPhone 16 Pro and Pro Max models will feature a 6.3-inch and 6.9-inch display, respectively. The phones will also reportedly come with an AI-powered Siri, though everything remains speculative at this time. 

Evolution of All iPhone Models

Apple’s innovative approach to product design and genius marketing has paved the way for 17 years of revolutionary handheld devices. Imagine what it will be capable of 10 years from now.  One thing’s for sure — there’s still more to come from the incredible evolution of the iPhone.