Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

The Apple iPhone at 5: a potted history

David Price | July 3, 2012
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.

The iPhone 3GS reportedly sold a million units in its first weekend on sale.

19 April: The iPhone 4 leak

The iPhone 4 launch saw the most significant break-down in Apple's normally airtight control of information. A clear seven weeks before Apple was ready to tell us about the next iPhone update, tech site Gizmodo spilled the beans on the iPhone 4, after having reportedly bought a prototype for $5,000. Apple had apparently lost the prototype.

What could have been a journalistic triumph for Gizmodo took a turn for the alarming when California police raided the home of the reviewer responsible (Jason Chen) and seized his computers, a response that was felt by many to be excessive. Gizmodo returned the prototype to Apple and charges against the site were dropped; the finders and sellers of the prototype, however, faced misdemeanour charges.

In any case a second prototype emerged in May, details of which were published on a Vietnamese website. Both prototypes were similar to the eventually unveiled iPhone 4.

Publicly at least, Steve Jobs took the leaks in good spirit, eventually introducing the iPhone 4's design with the words "Now, some of you have already seen this", to loud applause and laughter. But one would assume that it was a different matter behind closed doors at Apple; the next iPhone update would be notable for the combination of overwhelming hype and information hunger with total secrecy.

7 June 2010: iPhone 4 is announced

As was traditional by this point, the 4th version of the iPhone was announced in June at San Francisco's WWDC. This time around Apple completely reworked the physical design, introducing a flat back and stainless steel frame, and slimmed it down to 9.4mm thick, compared to the 3GS's 12mm.

"You gotta see this thing in person," said Steve Jobs. "One of the most beautiful designs we've ever seen. Glass on front and back, stainless steel around the edge. Precision on this thing... its closest kin is like a beautiful old Leica camera."

24 June 2010: iPhone 4 is launched

In an iPhone 4 video review, my predecessor as editor of iPad & iPhone User, Andy Penfold, commented that: "If you've had an iPhone before, the first thing you'll notice about the iPhone 4 is its Retina display. Apple has crammed four times as many pixels into the same size screen, and the result is really striking. Text is much better defined, and images look much sharper too."

But there was trouble in paradise. The biggest criticism of the iPhone 4 concerned the antenna, which had an apparent tendency to lose signal and drop calls if the phone was held in a particular way. Apple fans spent a few weeks complaining about this, until...


Previous Page  1  2  3  4  5  6  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.