The iPhone is five years old today. That's right: it was only five years ago that Steve Jobs turned the technology world upside down with his company's take on the smartphone. It feels like it's been around forever.
To celebrate the milestone, we've collected together your favourite memories of the iPhone. We also decided to put together a potted history of the best smartphone the world has seen. From the bombshell of the first iPhone to the commercial behemoth that is the iPhone 4S, from antennagate to the prototype leak scandal, here are the significant landmarks in the iPhone's amazing history.
9 January 2007: First-gen iPhone is unveiled
Speaking at the Macworld Conference in San Francisco, legendary Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in January 2007.
It was a classic piece of Jobs showmanship. "Today, we're introducing three revolutionary products," he said. "The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. The third is a breakthrough internet communications device.
"These are not three separate devices. This is one device. And we are calling it iPhone. Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone."
It's fair to say that Apple generated a certain amount of excitement with the iPhone announcement. Some sections of the press christened the smartphone the 'Jesus phone'. But others were less impressed; columnist John C Dvorak pronounced: "Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone… [because it's just] going to be another phone in a crowded market." He's still justifying that call to this day.
29 June 2007: First-gen iPhone is launched
The original version of Apple’s smartphone hit shops later in 2007: five years ago to the day, on 29 June. The UK had to wait until autumn for its own iPhone launch, however.
It was a serious success, with huge queues lining up at the flagship Apple Stores and widespread critical acclaim greeting the launch.
The first iPhone lacked many of the aspects that made more recent iPhone models great, such as 3G connectivity. But, like other great Apple products, the iPhone took ideas and technologies available elsewhere and combined them in one desirable, reliable product. By creating a good-looking and intuitive gadget that anyone could use as a mobile phone, web browser and MP3 player, Apple re-invigorated and redefined the mobile market.
Apple already had the mobile audio players market sewn up with the iPod, and moved its seamless music-playing ecosystem lock, stock and barrel from 'Pod to 'Phone. iPhone web browsing was a world beyond that experienced on other handsets, and the original iPhone introduced Visual Voicemail, multitouch gestures, HTML email, threaded text messaging and YouTube video. Indeed, even 'missing' functions such as cut and paste, push email and multimedia messages made it on to the iPhone after a couple of software updates.
And that’s before we get to Apps. Apple's App Store is the home to a staggering array of software services, and it all started with this device.
Look around now and you’ll see smartphones of all flavours that resemble the original iPhone. The principal innovation the iPhone brought to the world was its use of multitouch input. It’s strange to recall that many sage observers at the time Steve Jobs announced the iPhone thought it couldn’t succeed without a hardware keyboard. The iPhone had then, and retains now, only a handful of hardware buttons – and now RIM is increasingly isolated in including qwerty keyboards on its BlackBerry mobile devices.
In our review at the time, we were surprisingly equivocal about what became an oustanding success. We didn't write it off, by any means, but expressed some reservations, mainly related to the contract pricing.
"There's plenty to love, and plenty to lament about Apple's new mobile. With its solid design and a beautiful, touch-sensitive 480 x 320-pixel screen the iPhone is beautiful to look at and a joy to use. Its browser, while not as versatile as the one on a desktop or laptop, is impressive and - at a stroke - has made all other mobile internet devices look antiquated and woeful. And of course, it works fine for making phone calls.
"But there is a dark side to the iPhone: activation requires signing up for an expensive 18-month service plan with O2, the UK's largest mobile service provider. Unlike most mobile phone deals you need to pay £269 for the phone as well as a top-tier monthly contract, and there is no mention of an upgrade offer when the contract finishes. To add insult to injury the 18-month contract may well outlast the usefulness of the sealed-in battery."
1 July 2007: Apple buys iPhone.com for a million bucks
A million dollars is nothing compared to Apple's iPhone revenues, and in July 2007 it was reported that the company had happily shelled out a cool million on the iphone.com URL, which one Michael Kovatch had presciently - or luckily - registered in 1995. iPhone.com now redirects to Apple's iPhone page.
5 September 2007: iPod touch is launched
Targeting more budget-minded gadget fans and those who were wowed by the iPhone's apps, touchscreen display and interface without needing the phone functionality, Apple launched the iPod touch later that year. It would go on to become a vital element in the iOS ecosystem: a sort of gateway drug that would introduce dabblers to the many pleasures of iOS - still referred to in those days, and indeed until June 2010, as iPhone OS - and downloadable apps.
Steve Jobs once referred to the iPod touch as "training wheels for the iPhone".
10 September 2007: One millionth iPhone is sold
It took Apple 74 days to sell a million units of the first iPhone: a great and by no means universally predicted success, but one that would be continually outshone by later iOS devices.
9 June 2008: Apple unveils the iPhone 3G
In 2008 Steve Jobs established the tradition of announcing an update to the iPhone at WWDC, also held in San Francisco. As the name suggested, the new model differed most significantly from the first-gen iPhone in offering a 3G data connection for faster downloads. But it also saw external modifications, with a tapered-edge, grip-friendly chassis, a plastic back and black and white colour options.
11 July 2008: The iPhone 3G is launched
It was with the iPhone 3G that Apple also established its now traditional rapid turnaround from unveiling to launch, an approach that depends on the company's legendary secrecy. Barely a month elapsed between the 3G being announced and hitting the shops, in a multinational launch across 22 countries.
"If you've been cautious and waited a year for the second generation of iPhone, your patience will be rewarded," was our iPhone 3G verdict. "The iPhone 3G improves on the original iPhone’s audio quality, offers access to a faster data network, and sports built-in GPS functionality. You’ll also be getting in on the ground floor of the exciting new world of third-party software written for the iPhone."
Next page: The iPhone 3GS, antennagate and more >>