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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.

Inevitably, the launch was overshadowed by the death the following day of Steve Jobs.

7 October: iPhone 4S is launched

Just three days later the 4S went on sale in the UK and six other countries. It proved to be a curious combination: a disappointment to many hardcore fans (almost inevitably, after the degree of hype that preceded its launch) but a colossal commercial success.

Carrier AT&T reported that it saw more than 200,000 pre-orders within 12 hours of release. A few days later Apple said that over a million iPhone 4S units were pre-ordered in the first 24 hours. Compare that to the 74 days it took the first iPhone to sell a million, which seemed pretty good at the time.

"Following the launch the reaction to the iPhone 4S was less than impressed, with some analysis suggesting the new iPhone was a disappointment," we wrote at the end of the year. "However, any negative feedback proved unfounded as the iPhone 4S sold four million in the first three days following the launch."

Additional reporting by Matt Egan


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