Back to the Future

Ten years of the iPhone

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Back in 2007, when the iPhone made its debut, even Jobs could not have imagined how it would dominate the company’s portfolio within a decade. Over a billion iPhones have been sold and over 65 per cent of Apple’s revenue comes from the iPhone. There’s no single annual event that generates more buzz (or rumours) than the launch of an iPhone. This hype is likely to hit fever pitch given this is the tenth anniversary edition. We roll back the years and map the iPhone’s fascinating journey, which a lot of us have been part of.

iPhone (2007): The device that started it all. Jobs poked fun at the keyboard phones of the era (like Windows phones) while he showed off the touchscreen. We were blown away even though this phone had no GPS or video recording capabilities. Back then, 4GB and 8GB of on-board memory was a big deal.

iPhone 3G (2008): The second iPhone had two key upgrades—3G, which changed the way we accessed the internet through our phones, and the App Store, a big moment in the history of handheld devices.

iPhone 3G S (2009): The first device with the ‘S’ suffix (S for Speed) had video recording features, an improved camera and voice commands.

iPhone 4 (2010): This was, in effect, the second generation of iPhone devices with a much improved form. The display looked gorgeous, it had the first retina display and featured a front cam (it wasn’t called a selfie cam back then).

iPhone 4S (2011): The Siri memes began; the voice assistant was repackaged and launched as Siri while the cam went up to 8MP. The big improvements were on the software front; something that became a practice with the ‘S’ editions.

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iPhone 5 (2012): Apple leaned towards industrial design with a lighter aluminium build and a taller screen, going from 3.5 to 4 inches. It was still smaller than its Android flagship counterparts. The lighting connector made its debut and we all got used to the frayed cables soon enough.

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iPhone 5S and 5C (2013): Apple broke tradition and launched two phones—the 5S was the flagship with the A7 processor while the 5C packed the internals of the 5 in a plastic body and a range of funky colours. The 5C was a bid to widen the iPhone’s appeal with an attractive price tag that worked only in a few markets.

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (2014): Two phones again, except this would become a recurring event with the debut of a 5.5-inch plus version. It’s unlikely Jobs would have approved this ‘phablet’ or the iPhone going from a 4 to 4.7 inch-screen. The plus versions were evidence that Apple was going to take cues from competition. This duo saw much improved cams.

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iPhone 6S and 6S plus (2015): Apple fanboys were disappointed that the 6S looked almost identical to its predecessor. Live photos and 3D touch were some of the new features.

iPhone SE (2016): Apple stunned industry observers with a smartphone within six months of its 2015 flagship. The SE was a 6S dressed up as a 5S for all those who missed the small size and one handed navigation of the earlier iPhones.

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iPhone 7 and 7Plus (2017): Despite the rumours about a new form, the 7 ended up looking like the 6 and 6S except that Apple ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack and became waterproof like the competition had done a couple of years ago. The 7 Plus featured a dual cam that added a host of options for camera buffs.

The 2017 iPhone edition: The rumours have begun and so have the wish lists (see box). One thing is clear, Apple better deliver an iPhone that breaks new ground. The fanboys are waiting.

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The rumour mill is working overtime over the 10th anniversary iPhone. Here are some of the things we’ve been hearing:

Apple might unleash three 
iPhones - an iPhone 7S and a 7S Plus with minor upgrades and a pricier flagship that might be called the iPhone 8 or the iPhone X.

The X is likely to have a curved. edge-to-edge OLED display with True Tone technology and a virtual home button.

Touch ID might make way for Facial recognition. We could also see the debut of USB-C charging on an 
iPhone

A dual-lens camera is in the mix, except it is likely to be in a vertical configuration (the iPhone 7 Plus featured a dual cam in a horizontal configuration).

If you own an Apple Pencil, you might actually be able to use it on this device.

The device will be powered by 
Apple’s next-gen A10X or A11 
processor.

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