With iPhone Still Setting Usability Benchmarks, Apple May Build on the Legacy in Today's Announcement
Every September, Apple announces new iPhones. This year will be no different. Android phone makers will have something to try and emulate, for the next twelve months.
The very first Apple iPhone was released in the year 2007, by the co-founder and then chief executive office of Apple, the Late Steve Jobs. That iPhone, Jobs believed, was at least 5 years ahead of its time, and gave Apple that buffer for the next iteration. That said, it took the likes of Samsung, HTC and other Android phone makers much more, before they came close to making something that could at least compete with the iPhones. Things have changed since, and the competition from Android phones is stronger than ever before. Yes, Android phone makers still tend to rely on the iPhone for a lot of inspiration, but the powerful hardware and the fact that Google has improved Android a lot, has brought Android phones in the same league as the iPhone. In order to keep the advantage, Apple has over the past decade, invested billions in building its own chips that power the iPhones.
That being said, the new iPhones will be announced on September 12. How will Apple build on the iPhone legacy? Here is a look at the journey thus far, and perhaps, history might show us the path to the future.
The very first iPhone was, as Jobs called it, one device for three tasks—phone, internet communication and a music player. The iPhone was indeed revolutionary at its time. At the time, touchscreen phones as a concept was alien to most. We can safely say that this iPhone, with a 3.5-inch multi-touch display, kickstarted a revolution. With 6.1 million iPhones sold in the first year itself, the idea of a touch-only device truly caught on. Nokia must have been kicking itself for reportedly dumping the touchscreen phone concept a few years prior.
Just as the name suggested, the big add-on to the original iPhone’s successor was the addition of the 3G mobile network capability and GPS for location-based services and navigation. Apple also introduced the App Store and the ability to download and use third-party apps for the first time. The iPhone 3G also got something known as push-email. The iPhone craze was at its peak when the iPhone 3G was launched, and 1 million were sold in the first week of launch.
This is the first time that Apple truly focused on the specifications powering the newest iPhone. “The fastest, most powerful iPhone yet,” as it was called at the time, this packed in more RAM and storage space than ever before. The design retained a sense of familiarity. With iOS 3, Apple finally introduced a number of features that had been conspicuously missing from iPhones so far, including the ability cut, copy, and paste text. The iPhone 3GS also sold close to 1 million in the first week of launch.
The fourth generation iPhone saw a new naming philosophy being implemented, where the number indicated the generation. A completely new design language too, with a stainless-steel frame, flat sides and glass on the front and back. This was also the first iPhone to support the CDMA mobile networks in many countries. The iPhone 4 also introduced the Retina Display. Performance was again in focus—the RAM was increased to 512MB (the iPhone 3GS had 256MB RAM) to allow faster app response.
A lot changed under the hood in the iPhone 4S, but on the outside, it looked identical to the iPhone 4 it succeeded. Apple, incidentally, announced this phone one day before the death of Jobs, the CEO of Apple Inc. There was great emphasis on improving the performance, as well as to improve the camera capabilities. Along with the iOS 5 operating system, the iPhone 4S introduced us to the voice recognition assistant Siri as well as the cloud storage service called iCloud, both unique things at the time.
The iPhone 5 brought with it a lot of changes that remain a part of the latest line-up of Apple iPhones. One of which is the Lightning connector for charging and data transfer (the iPhones prior to the iPhone 5 had used a wider 30-pin connector). A complete design refresh also saw the screen size increased from 3.5-inches to 4-inches with a wider aspect ratio (when looked at in landscape mode) and a thinner aluminium chassis. Support for LTE mobile networks was also introduced. More than five million were sold during the first three days of hitting the shelves.
iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C
The iPhone 5s retained the same design and dimensions as the iPhone 5. But, under the hood was a 64-bit processor (for the first time in a smartphone), an improved camera, Touch ID fingerprint scanner integrated into the home button and the M7 “motion co-processor,” which allowed fitness tracking. Apple had faced a lot of criticism for the price of the iPhone in certain markets, including India. Thus, in came the iPhone 5c, which retained the innards of the previous year’s 5, but had a polycarbonate body in white, pink, yellow, blue and green colour options—safe to say, this didn’t really set the sales charts alight.
iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
This is the first time Apple introduced two different screen sized iPhones, with the iPhone 6 getting a 4.7-inch screen and the iPhone 6 Plus with a larger 5.5-inch screen. These were also the thinnest iPhones thus far. For the first time, 128GB storage options were on offer. There was however the entire “Bendgate” furore after some users reported the iPhone 6 Plus bending a bit, under pressure at certain angles.
iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus
Following the trend of the “s” line-up over the years, the 6s and the 6s Plus was boosted versions of the 6 and 6 Plus. The design remained the same. A newer processor, a better camera and the stronger 7000 series aluminium alloy chassis were the major upgrades—the last being important after the “Bendgate” allegations. For the first time, the Rose Gold colour option was made available, something that has been shamelessly copied by a lot of other Android smartphone makers since. These iPhones also introduced the 3D Touch technology, which detects the different pressure of your finger’s touch on the iPhone’s screen and opens up menus and options for faster interactivity with certain apps.
This was a bit unexpected, but Apple was convinced that there was still a demand for compact smartphones. The SE’s design was a tribute to the design of the iPhone 5 and 5s, with the 4-inch display, so much so that even some accessories such as cases would work on the SE too. The internals exactly replicated the iPhone 6s. It wasn’t short on power, but clearly there weren’t enough small screen phone buyers as one would have imagined.
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
The design remained largely similar to the 6s and the 6s Plus, but Apple introduced two new colour options—the glossy jet black and a matter black. However, these iPhones will be remembered for ushering in the demise of the 3.5mm headphone jack for your earphones. Apple did bundle an adapter that allowed your existing headphones to work, but critics weren’t impressed with this fine detail. The larger iPhone 7 Plus also became the first iPhone with a dual camera—one 12-megapixel standard wide-angle and one a telephoto with 2x optical zoom.
iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
Significantly more powerful than the previous year’s iPhones, with the A11 Bionic processor. In terms of the looks, these looked very similar to the predecessors, except for one big change—the glass layer on the back, which enabled wireless charging, making these the first iPhones to do so. The cameras were improved along the way, and the True-Tone display feature was now a standard option too.
The big one. The biggest iPhone evolution in years. Gone was the home button which had resided below the display, for years now. The screen became taller, this became the first iPhone with an OLED screen and there was a notch on the top which divided opinion as quickly as it divided the notification bar on the iOS 11 interface. The fingerprint sensor was replaced by the Face ID image recognition technology and the dual cameras on the back were primed for AR apps. This had a larger display than the iPhone 8 Plus (5.8-inch as against 5.5-inch) yet was more compact to hold and considerably lighter too.
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