Apple had started the buzz about touchscreen smartphones way back in January 2007. The company follows annual product refresh cycle and has introduced six generations of smartphones branded as iPhone till now. With great software packaging and dedicated resources to introduce only one but compelling device, Apple continues to reap the benefits of its smart strategy.
Apple has kept the nomenclature of its all the iPhone models as simple as numbering. Three hardware refreshes and two major design refreshes have been implemented in the iPhone line-up till date.
Here is a quick and comprehensive look at the iPhone lineage to catch up with the story so far.
Apple announced the sixth generation smartphone branding it as the iPhone 5. It features a fresh industrial design and new styling. Apple has used anodized aluminium back panel along with the glass panel components to build the basic shell. The iPhone 5 measures mere 7.6 inch thick and weighs just 112 grams.
Apple has finally adopted 4-inch touchscreen display in the high-end smartphones. It features Retina IPS panel technology and support 1136×640 pixel resolution. Even with increased resolution, Apple has ensured the same 326 ppi pixel density for the display. Apple has used new dual-core A6 mobile processor based on the latest ARM Cortex-A15 MPCore to power such a massive display and also stay abreast with the competition.
Apple has also used new 8 megapixel iSight camera which is 25 times smaller than the one use in iPhone 4S. This camera is touted to offer great imaging quality, especially in the low light environment. Sporting the lens made from five elements which now includes Sapphire Crystal to give it strength and make it scratch proof. Along with the add-ons like the hybrid IR filter, the new 8 MP iSight camera is said to be 40 per cent faster than the iPhone 4S camera.
It can record 1080p HD videos at 30 frames per second with improved video stablitisation and now one can click still images while the video recording is in progress.
Besides that, the camera can now detect up to ten faces while recording a video. For the HD quality FaceTime video chat experience, Apple has added a 1.2 megapixel camera in the front panel just above the earpiece grill.
For better music output, Apple has offered precision drilled speaker mesh at the bottom of the phone which also accommodates the new 9-pin connection port, Lightning port, in the centre.
To offer support for Long Term Evolution networks in several markets Apple has used a new modem chip from Qualcomm. The iPhone 5 also supports HSPA+ and DC-HSPA networks to offer high speed data connectivity. Apparently, Apple iPhone 5 will support the new Nano-SIM and will not be compatible with the existing Micro-SIM modules.
For better connectivity over WiFi, Apple has used a new dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi support for superfast speeds of up to 150 mbps. This works only when you are using a wireless router that supports 802.11n specifications. Location based services will have the same A-GPS and GLONASS network support found in the iPhone 4S. However, this time the mapping experience will be different for Apple as it will be using in-house designed cartography on the new Maps app. It will also offer new realistic looking 3D view.
Virtual assistant Siri will now comprehend more queries and will offer support for more languages. The new iOS 6 will be pre-loaded and will feature system-wide Facebook support after the system-wide Twitter support in iOS 5.
Apple iPhone 5 will be offered in two tone colour combinations – black and slate; and white and silver. The factory unlocked version of iPhone will be sold at $649 for 16GB, $749 for 32GB and $849 for 64 GB.
Apple replicated its strategy used in iPhone 3GS and announced the new iPhone 4S on October 4, 2011. In this fifth generation iPhone, Apple had introduced a new voice recognition and natural language processing system – Siri which also acted as digital assistant. Besides that iPhone 4S also introduced a new f/2.4 aperture bearing 8 megapixel iSight camera, cloud storage based iCloud service and totally new Apple A5 mobile processor. While most features were incremental, the Apple Siri was the major highlight of the iPhone 4S.
Apple had used the same screen dimensions, resolutions, colour bit depth and pixel density. Apple had packed a new Apple A5 System on Chip mobile processor that again has been underclocked at 800 MHz instead of its usual 1 GHz clock speed. This new Apple A5 clad iPhone 4S delivered significantly better performance compared to Apple A4 bearing iPhone 4. Carrying the same amount of 512 MB RAM clocked at 200 MHz, Apple added a new PowerVR SGX543MP2 dual-core bearing graphics chip. The new hardware promised phenomenal speed boost with the iOS 5 software update.
Apple had used dual-antenna architecture to make the iPhone 4S as the world phone – that means it could choose between GSM and CDMA network without adding additional chip. iPhone 4S offers 14.4 Mbits data speeds on the HSDPA networks and continued to support the same Micro-SIM modules like the ones for the iPhone 4.
The iPhone 4S has the new 8 megapixel camera with the latest back-side Illumination 2 sensor for greater imaging coupled with a lens built using five different elements. Apple had added hybrid IR filter and also added features such as face detection and video stabilisation for recording a full 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second. Apple also demonstrated that the same video can be edited on the iPhone 4S itself using the iMovie iOS version. Front facing VGA camera offered FaceTime but still locked down to WiFi networks only. Apple had added Bluetooth 4.0 but did not enable any fancy features around it.
The most interesting feature of the iPhone 4S apart from new camera was the Apple Siri. This virtual digital assistant was widely popular and the dedicated team had been working day and night to deliver better results with this app. The Apple Siri required basic data connection to send across the queries and throw up options or answers based on the queries. For months, the iPhone 4S across globe faced some issues with voice recognition but Apple eventually tweaked and fixed it with intermediate iOS updates.
Apple offered iPhone 4S in 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB models. Apple introduced the iPhone 4S in India on November 25, 2011 at slightly shocking prices for Indian consumers. The Apple iPhone 4S was being sold starting Rs 44,500 for 16 GB, Rs 50,900 for 2 GB and Rs 57,500 for 64 GB.
The fourth generation iPhone has the most dramatic history of launch. Apparently, one of the iPhone developer team employee forgot a testing prototype at a bar. The person who found it sold it to Gizmodo.com for hefty price and the prototype was previewed couple of days before the official announcement of the smartphone. Apple and Gizmodo ran into legal battle for a while but that did not hamper launch of the next major iPhone.
Apple finally announced a totally new design bearing iPhone 4 on June 7 in 2010 and also the mobile operating system was rebranded to iOS from iPhone OS. Apple had introduced an uninsulated stainless steel frame at the sides of the iPhone 4 to act as the antenna for the device. It was also the joint that clamped two glass panels. Apparently, the iPhone 4 suffered from the infamous “Antennagate” issue where Apple had to call for a special press conference explaining the stainless steel antenna usage yet again and promising a software update fix for the issue.
With the new radical and attractive design, Apple had implemented several improvements at the fundamental level in the hardware as well as the software. Most important change was the support for micro-SIM modules which made it incompatible with the regular SIM modules. Several consumers managed to chop the regular size SIM modules to accommodate it in the iPhone 4.
Apple had yet again demonstrated its prowess in industrial design space with the iPhone 4. The fourth generation iPhone however had the same 3.5-inch screen size but the resolution was bumped to 960×640 which made every icon and image sharp and crispy on the display. Apple had introduced the new Retina display based on the In-Plane Switching (IPS) panel technology for better viewing angles and color reproduction. This Retina display had 24-bit color depth which was a major upgrade form from 18-bit color in the iPhone 3GS. Even the native pixel density was now set to 326 pixels per inch compared to the 163 ppi pixel density in the predecessors. Arguably, Apple had introduced one of the best screens bearing smartphones then. The glass display also had the oleophobic coating to make it finger print resistant.
Inside the 9.3 mm thick glass and steel built chassis, Apple had used its own first generation single core Apple A4 System on Chip mobile processor that was underclocked to 800 MHz from 1 GHz. The memory was beefed to 512 MB low power RAM clocked at 200 MHz while it continued to use the same PowerVR SGX 535 graphics chip clocked at 200 MHz.
Apple had also introduced new 5 megapixel camera with back-side illumination CMOS image sensor at the back with LED Flash for the first time. This camera was capable of capturing great quality still images and also record 720p HD videos at 30 frames per second. The iPhone 4 featured a dual-mic for noise suppression and also aid in better audio recording.
For the first time, Apple had added a front facing camera I this smartphone to support video calls dubbed as FaceTime. Apparently, in order to deliver the best quality audio-video experience, Apple had locked down the FaceTime feature to work only on WiFi networks. In order to lure more mobile gamers and game game developers, Apple added a 3-axis gyroscope sensor that could offer great interactive 3D experiences with the built in Accelerometer.
Apple had also announced CDMA model of iPhone 4 which was made available in couple of weeks after the GSM model made its way to the market. Apple offered the 16 GB and 32 GB storage options of the iPhone 4 for both GSM and CDMA versions. For India, Apple introduced GSM only version starting Rs 34,500 for 16 GB and Rs 40,900 for 32 GB model.
After offering similar hardware bearing smartphones for two years, Apple had learned several important lessons. Firstly, hardware was very important part of the smartphone and consumer are always on a look out for faster processing speed as well . Apple announced its third generation iPhone as the iPhone 3GS on June 8, 2009 in the Unites States. In the iPhone 3GS brand name, S stood for Speed which was offered through powerful hardware.
The iPhone 3GS also had the same 3.5-inch touchscreen display and resolution as the first and the second generation iPhone. Carrying the same design as the iPhone 3G, the interesting changes had taken place inside the chassis. Apple had packed a single-core ARM Cortex-A8 based Samsung mobile processor offering peak speed of 833 MHz but was underclocked to 600 MHz. Apple had bumped the amount of memory to 256 MB RAM and also used a new graphics chip – PowerVR SGX535 clocked at 150 MHz. The iPhone App Developers were quite impressed with the new hardware bump and had started delivering some of the best as well as graphic intensive games for the iPhone OS platform.
Apple had bumped the 3G network chip capability and the one in iPhone 3GS offered up to 7.2 Mbps data speeds. Apple had also added a new 3 megapixel camera that was capable of recording video in 480p resolution at 30 frames per second. The camera brought along features such as focus, white balance, macro focus and great exposures yet surprised everyone by the missing LED Flash.
By now, Apple had also introduced the copy-paste and MMS support which was available only for this smartphone and iPhone 3G. Despite of the hardware bump, the iPhone 3GS users suffered from over-heating and poor battery life issues. With the iPhone 3GS, Apple also introduced a 32 GB on-board storage offering model along with the 8 GB and 16 GB models. Meanwhile, in order to prevent the jailbreaks from happening, Apple had released the iPhone 3GS in two different batches carrying two different versions of ROMs that made jailbreak community to work harder to find the exploits. Due to heavy demand, the iPhone 3GS launch for India was delayed and was finally unveiled on March 26, 2010. Airtel had introduced the iPhone 3GS starting Rs 35,500 for 16 GB and 32 GB version for Rs 41,500. Apparently, now the iPhone 3GS sale has been frozen in India since the authorized resellers and the mobile operators have been reporting the “out of stock” status.
Almost a year and half after the first iPhone was launched, Apple surprised everyone with the second generation iPhone. Apple announced the iPhone 3G on June 9, 2008 in the US. The iPhone 3G was almost first generation iPhone but had several significant improvements. The new highlights of the iPhone 3G apart from design was tri-band UMTS/HSDPA support for 3G data connectivity and Assisted GPS support for better location locking.
Apple iPhone 3G was announced in two basic back panel colours – Black and White. Except for the new design and plastic material used for the back panel, the iPhone 3G had almost the same hardware specifications as the original iPhone. Apple announced the iPhone 3G with the iPhone 2.0 OS that brought along slew of new features which in a way over-shadowed the lack of new hardware.
Apple had added the Assisted-GPS support to work along with Google Maps for better location locking. With the iPhone 3G, one could technically expect 3.6 Mbps data speeds on the 3G networks. However, because of the 3G support one crucial aspect of the phone that took a massive hit was the battery life. The original iPhone offered 8 hours of battery life on 2G networks and the iPhone 3G offered about 5 hours of battery life on 3G networks.
The consumers rated this smartphone poorly when it came to battery life and select white models also suffered from hairline cracks at the back panel. Apple gulped down all the heat and supported the iPhone 3G till the fourth generation mobile OS update. However that led to diminishing performance output instead of improving it. Jailbreak community was heavily criticised by Apple’s then CEO Steve Jobs. However, the jailbreak community continued its efforts to offer jailbreaks and software unlocks through different tools.
For this model, Apple offered the iPhone 3G in 8 GB and 16 GB storage options. By August 2008, Apple India has formally launched the iPhone 3G for Indian consumers through carrier partnership with Airtel and Vodafone.
After several months of speculations, Apple finally announced the first generation iPhone on January 9, 2007. It was the special day for technology industry to see a full touchscreen device that was beautiful and robust at the same time. Apple had introduced a new mobile operating system that was based on its Mac OS X kernel and called it iPhone OS. This was not the perfect smartphone even back then due to some crucial feature omissions but it was balanced with great design and compelling user interface.
The original Apple iPhone featured 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen display that was made with Corning Gorilla Glass technology for strength and scratch resistance. It also had the oleophobic coating to prevent loads of finger prints. Despite of carrying a resolution of 320×240 and the 163 ppi pixel density, the iPhone OS looked quite interactive and intuitive. The iPhone measured 11.6 mm thick and weighed about 135 grams with the aluminum back panel used.
Apple was not that big on hardware since it was their first attempt to “reinvent the phone” and thereby omitted some of the crucial features of a mobile phone. The original iPhone or also referred as the iPhone 2G had a 412 MHz ARM 11 mobile processor coupled with 128 MB eDRAM. This first generation iPhone featured the PowerVR MBX Lite 3D graphics processor which was also used in the first iPod touch.
Apple was not gung-ho about the camera and neither were other mobile handset makers. The iPhone had a f/2.8 aperture clad 2 megapixel camera at the back with no LED flash to support it. Back in 2007, while most countries were in transition of offering 3G cellular network infrastructure, the iPhone was labeled as one generation backward. However, the GPRS/EDGE support did offer good mobile web browsing experience despite of the lacking support for Adobe Flash in the web browser and the system.
This first generation iPhone did not feature any Radio, Java support or even GPS for location based services. However, it came pre-loaded with Google Maps native app. There was no memory card slot to expand the storage as the company offered iPhone models with 4GB, 8GB and 16 GB on-board storage options. Apple faced lot of criticism for using its proprietary 30-pin connector instead of a micro-USB port for charging the iPhone and connecting it to the computer. Despite of all those limitations, the iPhone was looked upon more as status quo and luring design clad smartphone.
Apple had taken loads of heat for not providing basic features such as Push Email, copy and paste, MMS and capability for developers to offer all kinds of App. Eventually the company was labeled as walled garden. Apple never formally introduced the original iPhone in India but it was being sold at shocking prices in India. That was possible due to a bunch of enthusiast hackers who managed to circumvent the security in the iPhone OS and came up with a method to jailbreak the smartphone.
A teenager named George Francis Hot (Geohot) had managed to find an exploit in the iPhone OS and had made loads of money by selling the exploit to others in the name of Jailbreak. The jailbreak for the iPhone OS were meant to remove the limitations levied by Apple on the software and the hardware of the mobile phone. Also, software unlock of the modem on the iPhone allowed using any GSM carrier supporting SIM module in it. That is when the cat and mouse chase between the jailbreak community and Apple actually begun.