iPhone through the ages: just how much has it changed?

The brilliance and the missteps

iPhone through the ages just how much has it changed

It was January 2007 when Steve Jobs took to the stage of the Moscone Center in San Francisco to announce the arrival of the iPhone, which went on sale worldwide later that year.

If you find it difficult to remember that far back, Leona Lewis was number one in the UK with A Moment Like This and people were flocking to the cinema to get teary-eyed at Will Smith in The Pursuit Of Happyness.

While our pop music and movie choices may not have improved much, smartphones were changed forever: from that point on, touchscreens, apps and digital media were the way forward.

iPhone 1 (first generation)

Launched: June 2007 (US), November 2007 (UK)

Part iPod, part phone, part Internet device: the original 2007 iPhone.

Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone as three devices in one: a touchscreen iPod, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a truly mobile web browser.

Now we take touchscreens, digital media playback and web access for granted, but in 2007 the iPhone was unlike anything that had appeared before. Its 3.5-inch screen had a 320 x 480 pixel reoslution (one of the best displays of the time), with a 2MP camera built in, and up to 8GB of storage.

Third-party apps were not yet allowed on "iPhone OS". In the TechRadar review, we noted that despite several shortcomings, the phone had "changed the mobile device landscape… multitouch will prove to be a model for interfaces in the future".

iPhone 3G (second generation)

Launched: July 2008

iPhone 3G
The second iPhone model brought with it 3G connectivity, but was very similar to the original

High-speed connectivity was big news in 2008, which is why the second generation iPhone included 3G in its moniker (rather confusingly, as this was the second generation iPhone). It also brought with it a thinner shape, a plastic back and – crucially – support for the newly launched App Store.

The app store model worked so well you'll now find it replicated in everything from your smart TV to your Windows 8 laptop, and the change helped Apple's phone really start to gain traction.

We said in our iPhone 3G review that buyers would be "amazed by the function and feel of this handset". The iPhone era had begun in earnest.

iPhone 3GS (third generation)

Launched: June 2009

Video recording came to the iPhone with the launch of the 3GS model
Video recording came to the iPhone with the launch of the 3GS model.

The iPhone 3GS upgrade was viewed as disappointingly minor at the time, but look at the detail and a different picture emerges: as well as faster performance, the new handset offered a better 3.2MP camera (that could now record video as well as take photos), extra storage options and voice control (the precursor to Siri).

The display was the same 3.5-inch 320 x 480 screen, and the device's appearance remained largely unchanged from the 3G model. TechRadar's take on the unit praised the multimedia and internet capabilities, while still finding niggles with the camera, call quality and battery life – this was the first of the more iterative updates to the iPhone, but did enough to keep users happy.

iPhone 4 (fourth generation)

Launched: June 2010

The iPhone 4 transformed the look and display of Apple s flagship device
The iPhone 4 transformed the look and display of Apple's flagship device.

If the 3GS was a minor upgrade, the iPhone 4 was a serious step up – a new, flat design with an integrated antenna (although questions were raised about how you held the device), a high-resolution Retina display (640 x 960 pixels) that showed the rest of the world how it was done and a superior 5MP camera (featuring HD video recording), on top of internal performance improvements.

The competition was catching up, and Apple had responded in brilliant fashion. We were certainly impressed, despite some reservations about the high price, saying "It's intriguing to see record-breaking numbers queuing up to pick up this device – but after playing with it for a few days, you can see why."