All generations of the iPhone use Apple's iOS mobile operating system software. The first-generation iPhone was released on June 29, , and multiple new hardware iterations with new iOS releases have been released since. The user interface is built around the device's multi-touch screen, including a virtual keyboard. The iPhone has Wi-Fi and can connect to cellular networks.
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An iPhone can take photos , play music , send and receive emails , browse the web , send and receive text messages , record notes, perform mathematical calculations, and receive visual voicemail. Shooting video also became a standard feature with the iPhone 3GS. Other functionality, such as video games, reference works, and social networking, can be enabled by downloading mobile apps. Apple has released twelve generations of iPhone models, each accompanied by one of the twelve major releases of the iOS operating system.
The first-generation iPhone was a GSM phone and established design precedents, such as a button placement that has persisted throughout all releases and a screen size maintained for the next four iterations. The iPhone 3G added 3G network support and was followed by the iPhone 3GS with improved hardware, the iPhone 4 with a metal chassis, higher display resolution and front-facing camera, and the iPhone 4S with improved hardware and the voice assistant Siri.
In , Apple released the iPhone 5S with improved hardware and a fingerprint reader marketed as 'Touch ID' , and the lower-cost iPhone 5C , a version of the 5 with colored plastic casings instead of metal. They were followed by the larger iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus , with models featuring 4.
The iPhone 6S was introduced the following year, which featured hardware upgrades and support for pressure-sensitive touch inputs , as well as the iPhone SE —which featured hardware from the 6S but the smaller form factor of the 5S. In , Apple unveiled the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus , which add water resistance, improved system, and graphics performance, a new rear dual-camera setup on the Plus model, and new color options, while removing the 3.
The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus were released in , adding a glass back and an improved screen and camera. The iPhone X was released alongside the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, with its highlights being a near bezel-less design, an improved camera and a new facial recognition system, named Face ID , but having no home button, and therefore, no Touch ID. The first-generation iPhone was described as "revolutionary" and a "game-changer" for the mobile phone industry. Subsequent iterations of the iPhone have also garnered praise.
The iPhone is one of the most widely used smartphones in the world, and its success has been credited with helping Apple become one of the world's most valuable publicly traded companies. As of November 1, , a total of more than 2. Development of what was to become the iPhone began in , when Apple started to gather a team of 1, employees including Jonathan Ive , the designer behind the iMac and iPod  to work on the highly confidential "Project Purple.
According to Steve Jobs, the "i" word in "iMac" and therefore "iPod", "iPhone" and "iPad" stands for internet, individual, instruct, inform, and inspire. Apple rejected the " design by committee " approach that had yielded the Motorola ROKR E1 , a largely unsuccessful collaboration with Motorola.
Cingular gave Apple the liberty to develop the iPhone's hardware and software in-house   and even paid Apple a fraction of its monthly service revenue until the iPhone 3G ,  in exchange for four years of exclusive U. On July 11, , Apple released the iPhone 3G in twenty-two countries, including the original six.
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The back of the original first generation iPhone was made of aluminum with a black plastic accent. The iPhone 3GS was available in both colors, regardless of storage capacity. The iPhone 4 has an aluminosilicate glass front and back with a stainless steel edge that serves as the antennas. It was at first available in black; the white version was announced, but not released until April , 10 months later. This became known as antennagate. Verizon said it would be available for pre-order on February 3, with a release set for February In February , ComScore reported that On September 12, , Apple announced the iPhone 5.
The device comes with the same pixels per inch found in the iPhone 4 and 4S. On July 22, , the company's suppliers said that Apple is testing out larger screens for the iPhone and iPad. On September 10, , Apple unveiled two new iPhone models during a highly anticipated press event in Cupertino. The iPhone 5C, a mid-range-priced version of the handset that is designed to increase accessibility due to its price is available in five colors green, blue, yellow, pink, and white and is made of plastic.
The iPhone 5S comes in three colors black, white, and gold and the home button is replaced with a fingerprint scanner Touch ID. Both phones shipped on September 20, Both devices had a larger screen than their predecessor, at 4. In , Apple unveiled the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus , which added water and dust resistance, improved system and graphics performance, a new dual-camera setup on the Plus model, new color options, and featured the removal of the 3. On September 12, , Apple officially unveiled the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which features a new glass design, camera improvements, a True Tone display, wireless charging and improved system performance.
It also unveiled the iPhone X, which features a near bezel-less design, a facial recognition feature dubbed "Face ID" with facial tracking used for Animojis, an OLED screen with the highest pixel density on an iPhone, a new telephoto lens which works better in low light conditions, and improved cameras for AR. Apple sold 6. Recorded sales grew steadily thereafter, and by the end of fiscal year , a total of Apple's sales surpassed that of Research in Motion 's In the fourth quarter of , the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S were the best-selling handsets with sales of While Samsung has led in worldwide sales of smartphones, Apple's iPhone line has still managed to top Samsung's smartphone offerings in the United States,  with The continued top popularity of the iPhone despite growing Android competition was also attributed to Apple being able to deliver iOS updates over the air, while Android updates are frequently impeded by carrier testing requirements and hardware tailoring, forcing consumers to purchase a new Android smartphone to get the latest version of that OS.
Apple announced on September 1, , that its iPhone trade-in program would be implemented at all of its specialty stores in the US. For the program to become available, customers must have a valid contract and must purchase a new phone, rather than simply receive credit to be used at a later date. A significant part of the program's goal is to increase the number of customers who purchase iPhones at Apple stores rather than carrier stores. On September 20, , the sales date of the iPhone 5S and 5C models, the longest ever queue was observed at the New York City flagship Apple store, in addition to prominent queues in San Francisco, and Canada; however, locations throughout the world were identified for the anticipation of corresponding consumers.
This was the first time that Apple has simultaneously launched two models and the inclusion of China in the list of markets contributed to the record sales result. The store's high sales results are due to the absence of a sales tax in the state of Delaware. The finalization of a deal between Apple and China Mobile, the world's largest mobile network, was announced in late December The iPhone Upgrade Program is a month program designed for consumers to be able to get the latest iPhone every year, without paying the whole price up-front.
The program consists of "low monthly payments", where consumers will gradually pay for the iPhone they have over a month period, with an opportunity to switch upgrade to the new iPhone after 12 months of payment have passed. Once 12 months have passed, consumers can trade their current iPhone with a new one, and the payments are transferred from the old device to the new device, and the program "restarts" with a new month period. Criticism of the program includes the potential endless cycle of payments, with The Huffington Post ' s Damon Beres writing, "Complete the full month payment cycle, and you're stuck with an outdated phone.
Upgrade every 12 months, and you'll never stop owing Apple money for iPhones". Additionally, the program is limited to just the iPhone hardware; cell phone service from a network operator is not included. Before the release of the iPhone, handset manufacturers such as Nokia and Motorola were enjoying record sales of cell phones based more on fashion and brand rather than technological innovation. Phones at the time were designed around carrier and business limits which were conservative with regards to bandwidth usage and battery life.
Apple's marketing, developing from the success of iPod campaigns, allowed the phone to become a mass-market product with many buyers on launch day.
Some market research has found that, unusually for a technology product, iPhone users are disproportionately female. When then-CEO of Research in Motion Mike Lazaridis pried open an iPhone, his impression was of a Mac stuffed into a cellphone, as it used much more memory and processing power than the smartphones on the market at the time. The dominant mobile operating systems at the time such as Symbian , BlackBerry OS , and Windows Mobile were not designed to handle additional tasks beyond communication and basic functions.
These operating systems never focused on applications and developers, and due to infighting among manufacturers as well as the complexity of developing on their low-memory hardware, they never developed a thriving ecosystem like Apple's App Store or Android 's Google Play. The iPhone's success has led to a decline in sales of high-end fashion phones and business-oriented smartphones such as Vertu and BlackBerry , as well as Nokia.
It ultimately agreed to a technology-sharing deal and then a takeover from Microsoft. Prior to the iPhone, "Handsets were viewed largely as cheap, disposable lures, massively subsidized to snare subscribers and lock them into using the carriers' proprietary services. By contrast, Google has allowed carriers and OEMs to dictate the "pace of upgrades and pre-load phones with their own software on top of Android ". As a result, many Android OEMs often lag months behind Google's release of the next iteration of Android; although Nexus and Pixel devices are guaranteed two years of operating system updates and a third addition year for security.
However, Apple has supported older iterations of iPhones for over four years. Up to the iPhone 4 , all iPhone models, as well as other iOS devices were manufactured exclusively by Foxconn , based in Taiwan. In , after Tim Cook became CEO of the company, Apple changed its outsourcing strategy, for the first time increasing its supply partners. The iPhone 4s in was the first model which was manufactured simultaneously by two stand-alone companies: Foxconn as well as Pegatron , also based in Taiwan. The 6 Plus model is being produced solely by Foxconn. The touchscreen on the first five generations is a 3.
The iPhone 5 model's screen results in an aspect ratio of approximately The touch and gesture features of the iPhone are based on technology originally developed by FingerWorks. The iPhone 3GS and later also feature a fingerprint -resistant oleophobic coating.
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The iPhone has a minimal hardware user interface, with most models featuring five buttons. The only physical menu button is situated directly below the display, and is called the "Home button" because its primary function is to close the active app and navigates to the home screen of the interface. Earlier models included a rounded square , reminiscent of the shape of icons on the home screen, however, new models which include Apple's fingerprint recognition feature Touch ID which use the Home button as the fingerprint sensor have no symbol.
It serves as the unit's power button, and also controls phone calls. Situated on the left spine are the volume adjustment controls. The iPhone 4 has two separate circular buttons to increase and decrease the volume; all earlier models house two switches under a single plastic panel, known as a rocker switch, which could reasonably be counted as either one or two buttons.
This switch does not mute alarm sounds from the Clock application, and in some countries or regions it will not mute the camera shutter or Voice Memo sound effects. The touchscreen furnishes the remainder of the user interface. A software update in January  allowed the first-generation iPhone to use cell tower and Wi-Fi network locations trilateration ,  despite lacking GPS hardware. Since the iPhone 8 it supports Galileo. The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, introduced in , feature 3D Touch displays which allows the screen to recognize how hard it is being pressed using pressure sensitive multi-touch technology.
Haptic touch retains some of 3D Touch's features but is based on a long press instead of a hard press. A proximity sensor deactivates the display and touchscreen when the device is brought near the face during a call. This is done to save battery power and to prevent inadvertent inputs from the user's face and ears.