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iPhone: A Visual History (2012-2016)


We’re continuing our recap of the iPhone’s visual history. See part 1, covering the iPhone 1 to 4S here.

iPhone 5 (2012)

Apple’s second major redesign of the iPhone arrived with the iPhone 5. An aluminum design encased larger 4-inch display, bringing with it 16:9 viewing for all of that iTunes content into the thinnest and lightest iPhone so far. Apple favored a black band this time for its black model around the handset’s frame instead of the ‘traditional’ silver, but the white version featured the silver on the edges and on its matte rear panel. The iPhone 5 also included an improved 8-megapixel camera with a sapphire crystal lens cover and HD FaceTime camera at the front. That headphone jack moved to the bottom edge alongside two speakers and the all-new Lightning connector that once again rendered a wide range of peripherals obsolete Apple also redesigned its earphones to their EarPod design. The iPhone 5 also finally came in with LTE.

iPhone 5S (2013)

Continuing the ‘S’ legacy, the iPhone 5S is almost identical in appearance to the iPhone 5, the new color combinations are what set them apart. A gold option is offered, for the first time, as an alternative to the typical black or white.  A dual-LED flash around back made for another design tweak. Apple also redesigned its home button for the first time with the iPhone 5S, adding a fingerprint Touch ID sensor to unlock the device by simply touching your finger on the home button. The phone’s software saw its most significant design change to date though, as iOS 7 ushered in a new look for Apple’s mobile operating system, the new typography, icons and retooled UI.

iPhone 5C (2013)

For the first time, Apple debuted two iPhone models at the same time! While many were expecting the iPhone 5C to be a budget iPhone, it debuted as an iPhone 5 with a plastic rear, which was just slightly cheaper. But, its internal components are identical to the iPhone 5. Apple had always stuck to black and white color combinations, the iPhone 5C introduced some much needed color to the range.  The multicolored rear casings are made of reinforced, glossy polycarbonate. Touch ID was exclusive to the pricier model, and those color-matched controls included two elongated volume buttons rather than the circular ones that debuted on the iPhone 4.

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (2014)

The iPhones for the first time have two screen size options, both significantly bigger than any of the previous iPhones. The iPhone 6 has a 4.7-inch display, and the iPhone 6 Plus jumps to 5.5 inches. Both models are also noticeably thinner too, at 6.9mm and 7.1mm respectively, they’re the thinnest iPhones ever! Both have Retina HD displays with a curved body and NFC chips for Apple Pay, but the iPhone 6 Plus includes optical image stabilization with its 8-megapixel camera. A rounded metal frame similar to that of the current-gen iPod touch is incorporated in the design. Visually, there is no difference in the two options, size is the main exterior differentiator. There are three color options here once again: silver, space gray or gold. The circular volume controls have been replaced by two long, rounded buttons on the left side to match the gadget’s svelte shell. Both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have an anodized aluminum unibody enclosure that seamlessly meets up with the glass display around front for a “completely smooth and continuous surface.” Which iPhone impressed you the most? Let us know in the comments below!

iPhone 6S and 6S Plus (2015)

Another incremental upgrade from Apple, the 6S and 6S Plus brought ‘Force Touch’ to the iPhone. Force touch allowed users to do more with a single tap, depending on the tap of course. Dismissed as gimmicky at first, the feature was quickly hailed by a majority of iPhone users once the phones were shipped. The devices thsemselves looked rather similar to their predecessors.

iPhone 7 and 7 Plus(2016)

The iPhone 7 should’ve been a big upgrade, but wasn’t. Rumors suggest that Apple went ahead with yet another similar looking iPhone to preserve its big guns for the iPhone 8. Reason? The iPhone 8 is the 10th anniversary iPhone.

That isn’t to say that the iPhone 7 is a minor upgrade. The 7 Plus brought with itself a dual lens camera, allowing for DSLR-level photography. Both phones also shipped with ‘tactile’ home button instead of a real one. This, along with the very controversial removal of the headphone jack, were the standout features on the 7 and 7 Plus.

Oh and, they also came in the very slick looking Jet Black color!


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