Fri. Aug 19th, 2022

Apple started 2007 with a single product that made a big splash. But over the past 15 years, there have been far more than 15 iPhones, as the company rolled out large, small, cheap and expensive.

The plan was one iPhone a year until 2013, when the iPhone 5c joined the iPhone 5s in a dual release. Since then, we’ve got up to five iPhones a year, in the banner year 2020, when we saw the iPhone SE 2, 12 mini, 12, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max.

I have reviewed every iPhone. All! Over the 15 years, here are the five that made the biggest mark for me. Note that not all of these were my reviews at the time.

iPhone 3G (2008)

App store makes iPhone. Apple’s original iPhone was interesting but limited; I wouldn’t even really call it a smartphone because I define a smartphone as a device that can run third-party apps. It had poor phone call quality and could not display many desktop web pages. I loved the interface, but the experience could be quite harsh, as I said in my original review of the first iPhone.

iOS 2.0 was even more important than the iPhone 3G hardware, but the two went hand in hand. The new iOS introduced the App Store, while the 3G model had network connectivity fast enough to download apps. More than any other iPhone, I believe the 2008 model and its software changed the entire world we live in. (Read our iPhone 3G review.)

iPhone 5 (2012)

The iPhone broke free of its AT&T shackles in the 4S year, but thanks to 4G LTE and the larger 4-inch screen, the iPhone 5 was the one that really took advantage of being on all US carriers. This was just a beloved, well-made phone that I called “faster, less frustrating and less fragile” than the 4S in my review. This was the first iPhone I feel like I saw all hold at once. (Read our iPhone 5 review.)

iPhone SE (2016, 2020)

As the decade began to turn around, smartphones steadily became larger and more expensive. iPhone SE (and its successor, SE 2) were happy fixes for these trends – affordable, powerful handsets that fit smaller hands but got you into the iPhone ecosystem with finesse. They showed that you did not have to empty your pockets or fall back to an older model to get those precious blue chat bubbles. I have high hopes for an SE 3 soon (Read our iPhone SE review.)

iPhone X

iPhone X eliminated the home button, still a controversial decision.

iPhone X (2017)

Apple’s tenth anniversary iPhone piled up with new design ideas and features that unfolded over the next five years. It was the first iPhone with an OLED screen, the first without a physical home button, the first with Face ID, the first with remarkable AR features and the first to cost $ 999. Whether you liked these changes or not – and many people still do not! – set the iPhone X an agenda that the iPhone 13 family still works from. (Read our iPhone X review.)

iPhone 12 Pro

iPhone 12 Pro is a true professional camera phone.

iPhone 12 Pro (2020)

I’m the 5G man! So I have to give a nod to the first 5G iPhone, even though 5G networks have not lived up to the promises Verizon’s Hans Vestberg made at the phone’s launch. The 12 Pro also introduced the latest sharp, square design and dramatically improved camera night mode, probably the top camera feature that average people have requested. (Read our iPhone 12 Pro review.)

Be sure to read 15 years ago, iPhone created ‘Big Tech’ and my reporting notes from the original iPhone launch 15 years ago.


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