The Evolution of the iPhone

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 at 9:16 am

Perhaps the only sign of evolution we can experience within our lifetime lies within technology. None of it stays the same anymore and our way of lives constantly change alongside scientific advancements.

How many conversations start with the words: ‘remember when we used…?’
These recollections reflect on a different way of life, defined by an attachment to a device which, so strong at the time, is now more distant than a dream one has awoken from. Apple are responsible for so many ‘remember when…’ conversation starters as they constantly innovate and alter the nature of their products, producing wave after wave of developments. I could for example ask: ‘remember when we had an Apple Macintosh?’ One need not even delve so far back however to the extent that the query ‘remember when we had iPhone 3G’s’ holds similar resonance. Such is the rate of Apple’s progression.

This article aims to dive into the evolution of just one Apple product, which in a mere five years has progressed heaps and bounds, dominating the mobile phone market. But before, we can commence in investigating the origins of the iPhone, we must first look into the products from which it evolved from. Like with Darwinism, one cannot understand humans without looking at apes. So let us begin by exploring the iPod: ancestor of the iPhone.

The iPod
Unveiled in October 2001, the late venerable Steve Jobs described it for what it was: a device that put 1000 songs in your pocket. Its history actually began with a British man called Kane Karmer, who in 1979 developed the concept of a mini gadget that stored music onto a chip. While the design was almost identical to Apple’s first prototype of the iPod, it could only store 3 and a half minutes of music, although it was of Karmer’s belief that this amount would increase over time through technological developments. Karmer’s own initiative fell through in 1988 and as a result his work became public property, a fact exploited by Apple thirteen years later in 2001. After being pitched as a device that could not only store large quantities of music, but also connect to software through which songs could be obtained; Apple developed this idea into what we now know as the iPod.

In the years that followed its release, subsequent versions and improvements were spawned, from making it Windows compatible to the introduction of the 3rd and 4th Generation models as well as a tiny mini-iPod product. The iPod’s synchronisation software iTunes would play a key role in driving Jobs’ ambition of developing the iPhone.

The MessagePad
Another one of the iPhone’s ancestors, the MessagePad was a personal assistance device and Apple’s first product with touch screen interface. It was released in 1993 and, like the iPhone, its front is a large screen.

The Birth of the iPhone
Thus from the iPod and MessagePad sprung the iPhone. Of course one needs not to believe in the theory of evolution and it’s very possible that the iPhone sprung out of its own accord. In what was labelled Purple Project Two, it is well known that Steve Jobs, sought to develop a touch screen device which like the iPod would have exceptional synchronisation software. However, despite teaming with Motorola to develop the ROKR E1 Jobs wasn’t satisfied. He felt that with the phone being a product of Motorola, Apple was restricted from developing the product they wanted to make, which like a tablet PC would have a touch screen interface.

The iPhone Original
Lo and behold, after a year of brainstorming and development, Jobs announced the iPhone at a Macworld convention on the 7th January 2007. The iPhone was 3.5inches, with a glass multi-touch touchscreen display, aluminium and plastic back and chrome plated metal frame. With a 412MHz processor and 320×480 pixel resolution at 163 ppi the iPhone was like nothing else on the market. It came with a YouTube application, Safari web browser and wireless internet access. It was in fact the use of third party applications that propelled the iPhone into the history books as a truly life changing and revolutionary device. The introduction of the app, meant that the functions of the iPhone were practically unlimited, as different applications brought in different innovations and perks. This was perhaps the most genius ingredient to Jobs’ invention.

iPhone 3G
Appearing first on June 9th 2008, the iPhone 3G came with an abundance of added features and perks. The most notable for consumers in search of cheap iPhone deals, was that the $99 product was released at half the price of the original iPhone. The smartphone was also slightly bulkier than its predecessor. It supported 3G data roaming, while the aluminium on the back was now completely replaced with hard plastic. It thus looked a lot smoother and silkier.

iPhone 3GS
The third generation of iPhone was introduced on the 9th June 2009, exactly one year after the emergence of its predecessor. With a faster performance, a higher 3MP camera resolution and greater video ability, the 3GS also included 24-bit colour emulation, enabling richer images. It also had voice controls attached.

iPhone 4
Unlike those which came before it, the 4th generation iPhone had a frontal camera, 512MB of RAM and HD video. With a 960×640 display and a pixel density of 326, the iPhone 4 features what is called a ‘retina’ display, based around the assertion that it offers the maximum amount of detail the human retina can perceive.

iPhone 4S
The iPhone 4S kept the exterior design of the iPhone 4, however a range of improved hardware and software specifications caused Apple’s next product to remain fresh and exciting. The smartphone fascinatingly has a memory capacity that can reach up to 64GB, which needless to say is pretty impressive for a phone. The camera quality was also upped from 5-megapixel still pictures on the iPhone 4 to 8-megapixel for the 4S; while being able to record 1080p HD Video – a step up from 4th generation’s 720p. With face detection and video stabilization, much of the 4S’s biggest sweeteners lie within its camera. A powerful processor and improved battery life also feature in Apple’s latest device.

What to Expect From the Next Generation?
Well while no one yet knows when and in what form the latest iPhone will arrive (even its name remains undisclosed from the masses), there have been a number of reliable rumours about what we can expect. It’s likely that the next generation will feature a mouth-watering 4+inch display screen, 4G LTE Data Connectivity and Near Field Communication Technology (NFC): an advanced means of radio communication.

Through merely writing this article, I’ve been reminded of the huge technological advancements made throughout the years and at how Apple has spearheaded this progress. When Apple introduced the iPod in 2001, we were astonished at the capacity capabilities such a small and simple device had. Perhaps, such astonishment has been lost with latest innovations; to an extent with the American corporation now cease to surprise us with the almost magical features that are brought to our mobile phones. However that in itself is a signal of the technological progress our mobile phones have made and due to the iPhone, I thank Apple for much of this.

About the Author
Michael Thomas is a freelance writer that loves discussing all matters of technology.