The iPhone Timeline


What this is not: This is not an attempt at keeping track of every mention of the iPhone, concept designs, re-hashed PR, near-identical transcriptions of articles from news agencies, mentions of an Apple MVNO, links to rumor site drivel, and a lot of pie-in-the-sky ideas that are usually floated by pundits (who often have absolutely no idea of what is involved in developing phone hardware).


The iPhone is Apple’s foray into the world of mobile phones, and the first generation device was announced in January 9th 2007 after years and years of speculation.

I decided to start keeping track of relevant (or irrelevant) mentions of it around mid-2004 or so, a few months before the ROKR launch turned the whole affair into something of a bad taste soap opera.

Although I don’t really keep track of iPod Touch news, there is a pattern of sorts to iPhone, iPod and OS announcements and releases – the iPod is usually released without any announcement delays. There’s a more detailed one on Wikipedia, too.

Year iPhone iPod Touch iPad iOS
Ann. Rel. Rel. Ann. Ann. Rel. Dev. Rel. (GM)
2007 Jan 9 Jun 29 Sep 13 1.0 – Jan 9
2008 Jun 9 (3G) Jul 11 Sep 9 2.0 – Jun 9
2009 Jun 9 (3GS) Jun 19 Sep 9 3.0 – Jun 9
2010 Jun 7 (4) Jun 24 Sep 7 Jan 27 Apr 3 4.0 – Jun 7
2011 Oct 4 (4S) Oct 14 Oct 4 Mar 2 (2) Mar 11 5.0 – Oct 4
2012 Sep 12 (5) Sep 14 Sep 14
(for Oct. rel.)
Mar 7 Mar 16 (3) 6.0 – Sep 12


At the time I started doing this (and for a very long time up to the actual announcement), I found the notion of Apple doing a mobile phone somewhat ridiculous, since there was no clear intersection between the iPod and mobile phone markets and there was already far too much bloat on phones.

Furthermore, Apple would have to deal with a lot of regulatory (and technology) issues that were not part of their core business, and they would always have significant difficulties where it regards being able to control the entire user experience from the moment they attached something to a carrier.

The Apple Way

Steve, however, turned the entire notion on its head and, after the ROKR fiasco, decided to do precisely that: acquire the required expertise, build (or design) the hardware from the ground up and create (in opposition to the prevalent ethos of most phone manufacturers) a virtually closed, Apple-centric mobile phone.

Their going with AT&T was not an accident (what with Cingular being notoriously lacking in advanced mobile services), and their European strategy was necessarily different. Apple has, in fact, pulled a substantial stunt in the US regarding the way they manage their relationship with carriers, even though their going with EDGE at the beginning meant that the initial device had little practical interest to operators in UMTS-enabled (and HSDPA-driven) Europe – something that changed markedly with the 3G device.

The Timeline

Here it is, without further ado, broken into sections, and excluding the iPad and the iPod Touch for simplicity’s sake:

Phase Notes
iPhone 5 The widescreen display, increased processing model, with its new connector.
iPhone 4S The revised 4th generation, with its speech recognition feature, called Siri.
iPhone 4 The 4th generation, with its video calling feature, called FaceTime.
iPhone 3GS 3GS-era references.
iPhone 3G another summary table covering the 3G edition and European re-launches.
Reviews a summary table of all reviews around the US launch date
European Launch news coverage for the european launch on and around Sep 18th
Post-Launch generic news coverage on and after Jun 29th up to the european Launch on Sep 18th
From Announcement To Launch when the panic started.
The Early Years assorted rumors, mostly, with interspersed opinion. A lot of them.

I also keep a set of pages for development resources, some notes on the Safari variant that runs on the device and a few others on the hardware, now mostly outdated.

My own opinions are interspersed where appropriate, and you can also read my first impressions (post-launch) and mull on the fact that it didn’t seem to include any particular Assistive Technologies on the first release – only on the 3GS did those become a reality.

See Also

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The iPhone’s 8th AnniversaryWishlistThe Instant Mess We're IniPad at a Crossroads
iPhone 6 Is a Thin, Sexy Phone with a Killer CameraRecord Pre-orders for iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 PlusIt's Too BigiPhone 6
Reviving a dead synth with a Raspberry PiAndroidiMessage purgatoryiPhone and iPad Development
How Apple Protects Your iPhone from Your EmployerTydlig - Calculator ReimaginedA Folio That Packs a PunchMaps
The HTC OneAnd Then Steve Said, "Let There Be an iPhone"First Weekend iPhone Sales Top Nine Million, Sets New RecordAnandTech's iPhone 5s Review
The Short TailChargeKey for iPhone 5Apple - iPhone 5cMicrosoft's first act of business as Nokia owner? Cut the Lumia 1020 price
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A Hack In The WildernessApple quietly kills iPod touch 4, intros camera-less $229 fifth-gen modelBurn, RSS, Burn!Starbucks Still Gets Orders For 4,000 Lattes
PatienceThe Switcher's Application GuideHow to Switch to the MacFlickr-box-o-gram+
iPhone BluesTwitterZagRatchet
Google Nexus 4 reviewiPadAnandTech - The iPhone 5 ReviewZig
5iPhone 5Infernal SeptemberRe-scoping, Again
Surviving RIMiOS: A visual historyNo Windows Phone 8 upgrade for current phonesMusings on the Retina Pro and the Philosophy of Highway Robbery
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The 4-inch iPhoneThreePropellerhead FigureThe Trodden Path
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SublerApple iPhone 4S: Thoroughly ReviewedThe Fifth (in November)Taking Away The Magic
Hello, AndroidApple's 4M-iPhone-4S weekend in contextInstapaper 4.0iPhone 4S Teardown
The iPhone 4SiPhone 4S Pre-Orders Top 1 Million in 24 HoursNew iPhone portfolio vs. Average Sale PriceDecluttering
The Four ScrewsThe iPhone TimelineApple Special Event October 2011iPhone 4S apparently leaked by iTunes
The Right QuestionApple overtakes Nokia in smartphone stakesCloudyWindows Phone 7
Atari’s Greatest HitsPing the MercilessSo a bar walks into an app...Hot Multitasking Action
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In the PondI, for one, welcome my new amphibian overlordsCarpe TerramiCircuit
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AirVideoMicrosoft COO Kevin Turner: 'The iPhone 4 Might be Their Vista'iPhone 4Hideous Printing
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On iOS 4 and the Archaic iTunes ExperienceiOS 4 now available for your iPhone 3G, 3GS, newer-generation iPod touchesFind My iPhone App Now AvailablePost-Note
FaceTime video calling added to iPhone 4... and it's WiFi-onlyCut My SIMA Services Menu for iPhoneChipping Away
iPhone 3GSSmokescreenTaking a BreatherPalm Pre, Pixi and WebOS
iPhone 3G Press CoverageGoogle Me SidewaysThin ThoughtsThe real reason why Steve Jobs hates Flash
Windows Live Messenger for iPhone unveiledSite DesignsMinimalismOpera Mini for iPhone different, not exactly better
Meanwhile, as I rest...Citrix Receiver for iPadSunny, with a chance of restApple holding iPhone OS 4 event, April 8th!
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The iPhone obsessionMinor AdjustmentsOn iPad Punditry and CurmudgeonsRank and File
New MobileMe Gallery App for iPhoneGordon, a Flash runtime written in pure JavaScriptRain or Shine, Trouble Is MineThe Speculative Prehistory of the iPhone
2009 in ReviewDACPOn Bits of Various Descriptions and Musicexpod
iPhone Now 50% of All Mobile TrafficInfirmwareDropbox Gets a New Home, iPhone AppBlackberry 9500 (Storm)
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Apple Claims Jailbreaking An iPhone Is Copyright InfringementLong Missive From The Trenches Of ParentingWill AT&T's Network FAIL Hurt the iPhone? (not bloody likely)iPhone MMS
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Wherever NoteMobileMeEvernote Offline Notes on iPhone and iPodGoogle LatLong: Google Earth now available for iPhone
Simplify MediaMobile SafariApple Reports Fourth Quarter ResultsOn Apple, Netbooks, and My Line of Work
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App stores and APIs: It's the ecosystem, stupidTale of a NetbookSo now what?Tethering possibly coming to an iPhone near you
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Appropriate amounts of funRestful MorningTrism : Upcoming iPhone Game by DemiforceiPhone WebClip speed dial
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Dear Lazyweb: Mandarin on Series 60?iPhone - HardwareThe Ultimate iPhone Timeline/Roundup?iPhone - From Announcement To Launch
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.Mac's Missed OpportunitiesGreen RingsDipping My ToesApple
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MVNOReal Newsblog.flush();28 Degrees
Saturday Morning LinksLink ModeWhere Do You Want To Groove Today?Keynote Intermezzo
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