“Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.”
With those words, Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world in 2007. And in the nearly 14 years since, he’s been proven right.
iPhone releases have occurred every year since 2007, though – especially in this year of the coronavirus pandemic – they don’t quite look the same as they used to. A highly produced Tim Cook basking in the futuristic beauty of the Apple Campus has replaced the pacing and electric Steve Jobs; customers opt for placing online pre-orders instead of camping out in lines around Apple Stores.
It’s not better or worse, it’s just different. But looking at the photos and videos of launches through the years shows how far the iPhone has come from Steve Jobs’ pocket to 2020.
Here’s a look back at every iPhone launch, in photos.
The early years (2007 – 2009)
The launch of the original iPhone, followed by iPhone 3G and 3GS (with the App Store!), saw tents and creative ways of passing the time in line.
Steve Jobs showed up to the Apple Store at the Palo Alto iPhone launch!
The hype continued for iPhone 3G and 3GS
iPhone 4 and 4S
The iPhone that gave the world a high resolution display *and* a selfie camera changed everything once again. More lines, more camping, and… performance art?!
iPhone 5, 5C, and 5S
The slimming, transformative design of the iPhone 5 got the hype it deserved. The following year, Apple debuted its split tiered phones (one more expensive, one less) with the 5S and the bright and beloved 5C.
Tim Cook pulled a 2007 Steve Jobs and came to the Palo Alto Apple Store to celebrate.
iPhone 6, 6Plus and 6S, 6S Plus
People flocked to Apple stores to herald the age of the iPhone’s physical expansion with the 6-series in 2014. In 2015, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus launched alongside the Apple Watch, which led to even more hype.
iPhone SE, 7, and 7 Plus
Releasing three different iPhone models on two different dates, 2016 was a big year for Apple. The cheaper SE became so near and dear that its users clung to it until Apple released a new SE in 2019. The 7-series got rid of the headphone jack and added a second lens on the 7 Plus camera.
iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and the game-changing iPhone X
The reborn iPhone with its spectacular graphics and full screen display (sayonara, home button) was a huge moment in Apple history, and people lined up and celebrated as always. Oh yeah, and the iPhone 8 was also there.
However, between the Russian cyberwarfare-assisted election of President Trump and the successful Brexit campaign in 2016 secured in large part by the efforts of Cambridge Analytica, 2017 was a year the public’s rosy image of technology shifted. Apple felt the effects, too: Some people flocked to the Apple store in Paris not to buy new iPhones, but to protest Apple allegedly not paying its fair share of taxes.
iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR
A smarter, better camera on the XS models and the colorful budget phone that is the XR made 2018 a somewhat underwhelming year. While photos show some hardcore devotees lining up and camping out in Moscow, the immediate, must-have feeding frenzy did not turn out in the streets.
iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max
The year of the three lenses saw orderly lines and an always excited Apple Store staff.
Apple’s first iPhone in the time of coronavirus was a reboot of the SE, and saw a release that looked like nothing that came before: A virtual drop, and in stores in the parts of the world that were even allowed to be open, with customers socially distanced and in masks.
The Apple 12-series phones are currently available for pre-order, and will be released on October 23rd. We just hope anyone lining up remains at least six feet apart.