Within the first 30 minutes of Apple’s 2007 Macworld keynote in early January, Steve Jobs unveiled the first-ever iPhone. Just an hour later, however, the tech press and eager fans alike learned that they’d have to wait until June to actually get their hands on one. Fifteen years ago today, that wait was over.
With June 29, 2007 marking something of a milestone in the history not just of smartphones but consumer technology as a whole, we thought it’d be fun to see how that fledgling handset has evolved into the most established smartphone on the planet, by serving up a smattering of facts pulled from the history of the iPhone’s 15-year existence.
The iPhone actually missed its first sales target
During the iPhone’s 2007 launch, Jobs said the company had set its sights on selling 10 million units, equivalent to 1% of the mobile phone market at the time. Despite successfully launching on time and to generally positive reviews, (according to Statista) the original iPhone actually only sold 1.39 million units in 2007, and a total of 6.2 million handsets before being discontinued in July 2008.
Apple didn’t own the ‘iPhone’ brand name at launch
Apple had reportedly been in talks with networking giant Cisco for years ahead of the iPhone’s unveiling in an effort to lock down the rights to the brand name. Cisco took ownership of the iPhone name when it acquired a company called InfoGear back in 2000, which had in turn trademarked the name ‘iPhone’ way back in 1996 (as reported by CNBC).
According to TechRadar’s US editor-in-chief, Lance Ulanoff, at the time speculation started to form regarding potential alternatives Apple might have to settle for if a deal with Cisco couldn’t be struck. Suggestions such as ‘Apple Phone’ and even ‘Steve Phone’ were apparently bandied about; however, Apple and Cisco settled their dispute in late February 2007, just four months ahead of the iPhone’s market release.
The iPhone didn’t launch with the App Store, or a selfie camera
While nowadays the thought of having an iPhone without an App Store is unthinkable, that’s exactly how the original device made its way to market. It wasn’t until July 10, 2008, that the App Store launched, at which time it featured just 500 apps.
Today there are 1.96 million App Store apps (according to Statista) and that’s after Apple culled all the 32-bit apps no longer compatible with iOS.
Other notable iPhone staples also took time to materialize: the iPhone 4 was the first in the line to play host to a front-facing camera; Siri didn’t arrive until 2011, as part of iOS 5 on the iPhone; and the iPhone’s signature Lightning Port didn’t replace the 30-pin connector – popularized by the iPod – until 2012’s iPhone 5.
The iPhone 13 is up to 3.2 times more expensive than the original iPhone but at least 53 times more powerful
The original iPhone – with its 4GB of storage – cost $499 on a two-year plan from AT&T, Stateside (the 8GB model cost $599), while the current iPhone 13 line ranges from $699 to $1,599 – that’s for the base 128GB iPhone 13 Mini and top-spec 1TB iPhone 13 Pro Max, respectively. As price increases go, that’s not that bad, especially considering just how far features and performance have come.
Speaking of performance, Moore's Law be damned; based on figures from GadgetVersus, the iPhone 13 line’s A15 Bionic chipset is approximately 53 times more powerful in single-core comparisons, compared to the underclocked RISC ARM 1176JZ(F)-S v1.0 SoC inside the original iPhone and, understandably the gains afforded to multi-core architecture expand the chasm even further.
Apple has shipped over 2.8 billion iPhones to date
While Apple hasn’t been officially releasing worldwide iPhone sales figures since November 2018 – when the total officially stood at 2.2 billion – multiple sources (as collated by Business of Apps) peg the units shipped, as of the end of 2021, at a total 2.8 billion iPhones.
According to Counterpoint Research, Apple also currently holds 62% of the premium smartphone market, and the top four spots for the most popular phones on the market (as of April 2022), worldwide.
What does the future hold for the iPhone?
While it’s clear that Apple has made some monumental strides in the iPhone’s illustrious history so far, it’s also no secret that a successor is already waiting in the wings.
Our iPhone 14 hub has all the latest updates on the next line of iPhones, including leaks, rumors and news.
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Alex joined as TechRadar's Senior Phones Editor in June 2022, but brings over a decade's worth of experience to the role, with an expertise in smartphones, tablets and wearables. He's covered keynotes hosted by the biggest brands and attended the launches for some of the most influential mobile products of the last few years. His experience was amassed at some of the most reputable consumer technology publications out there, including GSMArena, TechAdvisor and Trusted Reviews.