Dubbed the "world's thinnest smartphone" by Apple executives, the long-anticipated iPhone 5 is lighter, faster and taller than any of Apple's previous smartphones.
"We have updated every aspect of iPhone 5," said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing. "The challenge is to make it better and smaller."
Analysts say they expect online pre-orders for Apple's latest phone, which begin Friday, to be record-breaking.
Since Apple released its game-changing smartphone five years ago, over 200 million devices have been sold. And since the introduction of Apple's App Store in 2008, over 30 billion apps have been downloaded. Some analysts expect that number to rise to 45 billion by the end of this year. The average customer uses more than 100 apps, Apple said Wednesday.
While it's hard to imagine a world without Angry Birds, Siri and FaceTime, let's go back to a time when the first rumblings of a cell phone technology revolution were being felt in Silicon Valley. That would have been eons ago -- in 2007.
ABC News' Alexis Shaw and Joanna Stern contributed to this report
|June 29, 2007: iPhone Debuts|
And so it begins. The revolution of the smartphone (and the obsessive, frantic buyers' need to have one) started with typical Apple fanfare.
Apple debuted the iPhone at the Macworld convention in January 2007, but in keeping with the company's traditional secrecy, it didn't announce the phone's public release date until June 3, 2007. The iPhone was then released in stores on June 29, 2007.
Lines snaked around Apple stores across the country as people waited for the phone.
Touted as "major breakthrough" in cellphone technology, the first iPhone combined Apple's immensely popular mp3 player, the iPod, with smartphone capabilities: surfing the Internet, checking email, playing movies, messaging friends and -- oh, yeah -- making phone calls. All that came in one sleek, lightweight package.
It made the smartphone wicked cool, but it only worked on AT&T's network.
Features included: a multi-touch screen, up to 16 GB of storage, 620 MHz processor, 2-megapixel camera for still images, USB dock.
Debut price: $499 and $599 for 4 GB and 8 GB, respectively. The 16 GB model wasn't released until Feb. 5, 2008.
Apple's late CEO, Steve Jobs, told ABC News in a 2007 interview that his motivation to develop the iPhone wasn't to compete with other tech companies. He said it was the need for a fresher product, one that he would want to use daily.
"We just try to build products that we feel are really wonderful and that people might want," Jobs said at the time. "Sometimes we're right, sometimes we're wrong, but I think we're going to hit a grand slam with this."
|July 11, 2008: iPhone 3G|
Within two weeks of the iPhone's 2007 debut, Apple sold 700,000 units. Within a year, the company had sold 6 million units.
The iPhone 3G, sometimes called the "iPhone 2," was released on July 11, 2008. With Apple having claimed the high ground in the consumer cellphone market, once again a buying frenzy followed the announcement.
Apple made some tweaks to its 3G unit, but one of the biggest was to its price. Just 10 weeks after the original iPhone's release on June 29, 2007, Apple dropped the price from $599 to $399 for the 8 GB model. When the original iPhone 16GB model debuted in February 2008, it was priced at $499, but dropped to $399 within two months.
Early-bird customers who had paid the higher prices up front were outraged, and Apple took their criticisms to heart. With the debut of the iPhone 3G, the company offered its new operating system upgrade -- iPhone 2.0 firmware -- for the original unit for free.
Additional features: thinner edges, assisted GPS.
Debut price: $199 and $299 for the 8 GB and 16 GB phones, respectively, with cell carrier contract; $599 and $699 without a contract.
|June 19, 2009: iPhone 3GS|
"Better, faster, stronger." Apple could have easily lifted those Kanye West lyrics for its announcement of the iPhone 3GS in 2009.
The 3GS promised to perform "twice as fast as the iPhone 3G" -- after all, the "S" stood for speed. Over 1 million units were sold in its first three days on the market.
This was also the same year Apple launched its "There's an app for that" ad campaign, and its now-famous App Store.
New features: up to 32 GB of storage, 833 MHz processor, 3.0-megapixal camera that included video recording, digital compass, voice control, Nike+.
Debut price: $199 and $299 for the 16 GB and 32 GB, respectively, with cell carrier contract for new and qualifying customers; $599 and $699 for the 16 GB and 32 GB without a contract.
|June 24, 2010: iPhone 4|
At the time of its debut, Steve Jobs said the iPhone 4 would be "the biggest leap since the original iPhone."
When it was first announced on June 15, 2010, Apple and AT&T said they took 600,000 pre-orders in the first 24 hours -- so many that it caused their online ordering system to crash. Although the white version of the phone was also slated for a June 2010 release, it was delayed until April 2011.
Apple boosted the phone's processor, camera and video capabilities, and gave the body of its fourth model a makeover, flattening the phone's curved back and slimming its sides.
Perhaps the biggest change came when Verizon Wireless announced on Jan. 11, 2011 that it would now carry the iPhone 4. Even though the phone more or less worked the same on either network, the real advantage was giving Verizon's roughly 94 million wireless customers the option to get in on the iPhone without switching carriers.
Features added: black or white body, bigger battery, 1 GHz processor, 5.0-megapixel camera with LED flash, HD video recording.
Debut price: $199 and $299 for the 16 GB and 32 GB, respectively, with carrier contract for new and qualifying customers. $599 and $699 without a contract.
The 8GB version is still available, free with a new carrier contract.
|Oct. 4, 2011: iPhone 4S|
The iPhone 4S looked a lot like its predecessor, but inside, said Apple, it was all new. The killer app -- if "app" is the word for it -- was intelligent voice recognition, a system called Siri that allows users to query the phone with spoken words.
Apple said Siri was smart enough that if you asked, "What's the weather forecast?" or "Do I need a raincoat?" it would recognize that you wanted essentially the same information.
Other added features: An A5 processor (the same as the one that ran the iPad 2), an 8-megapixel camera capable of shooting stills in low light and HD video, and dual antennas so that it can be used almost anywhere in the world.
Apple said it would be available to customers of AT&T, Verizon and -- for the first time -- Sprint.
Debut price: $199 for the 16 GB, $299 for the 32GB, and $399 for the 64GB with a two-year carrier contract.
The 16 GB is now available for $99 with a new carrier contract.
Ironically, the 4S was announced the day before the death of Steve Jobs, eulogized as the mastermind of the iPhone and so many other game-changing technologies.
Jobs had laid out long-term plans for Apple before illness overtook him, and the company has continued to thrive.
|Sept. 12, 2012: iPhone 5|
Apple was characteristically secretive about iPhone 5's body and upgraded features, but they matched many of the rumors leaked about its introduction months before the announcement.
The iPhone 5 has a 4-inch screen with an 1136x640 resolution Retina display. It is 7.6 mm thick and weighs in at 112 grams. That's half an inch bigger, 18 percent thinner, and 20 percent lighter than the iPhone 4S.
Other improved features: Apple's latest iOS6 operating system, an A6 processor, a new dock connector, LTE data connection, a boosted audio system, 8-megapixel FaceTime HD camera now with panorama view, longer battery life, improved graphics and Apple's passbook app.
Debut price: $199 for the 16GB version, $299 for 32GB and $399 for 64GB with a new carrier contract.
Before the announcement, sites like Gazelle and Glyde, which buy older iPhones, saw a huge surge in traffic as people tried to unload their phones before switching to the new one.
Some analysts predict people may buy 10 million iPhone 5s in its first month on the market.