Even though some people say that iPhones look the same year after year, I beg to differ. Now, yes, if you go from an iPhone 13 Pro to an iPhone 14 Pro, there is going to be very little change in the design and form factor. But what about when we went from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4? Or if you are someone that waits years to upgrade, and you go from the iPhone 6 to the iPhone 14 Pro? Those upgrades or differences become much more drastic.
Depending on when you got your first iPhone, your choices may differ. I am lucky enough to have owned pretty much every iPhone since the very first iPhone back in 2007. Little did I know that 16 years later, I would be using the same brand.
The iPhone has gone through several design evolutions over these 16 years. I began to ask myself which iPhone was my favorite iPhone of all time: Was it the OG version, the iPhone 4/5 series, or one of the newer ones? What was your favorite iPhone?
iPhone design over the years
I do not want to get too detailed, trying to review everything single design change Apple has made with its iPhone lineup, but I do want to highlight some of the big changes they made as the iPhone lineup matured.
This phone has many names: the iPhone 2G, the iPhone 1, or just the OG iPhone. But this is the one that started it all. The iPhone was released in June of 2007 with its two-tone look. It was a nice silver aluminum with the bottom fourth made of this black rubber-feeling material. It was small, had rounded edges, had that famous physical mute switch, and had the headphone jack that caused so many issues with third-party headphones because of how far the headphone input went into the phone.
iPhone 3G & 3GS
After the OG iPhone, Apple really changed the look of the iPhone 3G. It was called the 3G because the original iPhone only had EDGE data connectivity, and iPhone 3G was the first to give us better 3G data support. But the design did change. It was now made of this reflective black plastic (or white, if you remember that one). It had more of a bubbly feel to it, and I remember it used to rock on the table a lot because the back was not flat. I personally liked the white one better, but this was the first real design change Apple gave us.
This was peak iPhone design time. Apple got rid of the cheap-feeling plastic casing from the iPhone 3G lineup and went to glass and metal for their entire iPhone. This is the phone that made you feel like you were using a piece of jewelry. We got front and back glass for the iPhone with a metal frame to hold it all together.
A few things to note are that the iPhone 5 was the first iPhone to give us a larger display and the first to get the lightning connector. We also had antennagate during this time, where users would complain about a dropped signal when covering the antenna band with their hands. We also got a selfie camera in these iPhones, and touchID came to the iPhone 5 lineup. Apple also gave us the iPhone 5C lineup during this time, which was a forgetful offering.
iPhone 6 to iPhone 8 Plus
This period of iPhones covers a wide range of iPhones. This was the time we had bendgate because the iPhones were just so thin. We also had the first-ever camera bump and our first dual camera setup with the iPhone 7 Plus. Lastly, we also got our first plus-sized model iPhone. These phones were ultrathin, especially when you compare them to today’s iPhones. Apple was in a state where thinness was considered a premium feature – so the thinner, the better. These phones got rid of the back glass and went all aluminum for the casing. In my opinion, these were nice, but it was a very safe design that peaked with the matte black iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone X to the iPhone 11 Pro Max
During this period, Apple went back and innovated again. This was the magical introduction of Face ID and the iPhone X. Gone was touchID and the forehead and chin bezels. This was the first iPhone that was truly bezel-less with its all-glass casing. Gone was the headphone jack; AirPods really began to take over during this time.
We also got the iPhone 11 lineup this time around, which included our first triple camera array on the 11 Pro Max. I remember thinking that this camera bump was insanely big when I first got it. The iPhone 11 lineup was also the first time Apple separated its iPhone offerings into Pro and non-Pro models. The gold 11 Pro Max was one of my favorite iPhones ever.
iPhone 12 to iPhone 14 Pro Max
We have made it to the current generation of iPhones. Apple went back to the iPhone 4/5 design by giving us flat sides, a more industrial look, a glass back, and much more. They introduced 5G with these phones and gave us MagSafe for charging, and each year these camera bumps got bigger and bigger. From a design standpoint, I actually love these models of iPhone. It brings the best of the old design and brings it to 2023 standards.
The iPhone 14 Pro lineup did give us the Dynamic Island, which is a great software and hardware marriage. But outside of that, they are very similar to the 12 and 13 lineups of iPhones
My favorite generation of iPhone is probably the iPhone 5/5s. It was the first time Apple made an iPhone with a four-inch display, which at the time was wild for Apple. It was just a gorgeous design with the glass back and front and the chamfered edges. It was a pleasure to use and hold.
Let me know what you think is the best iPhone Apple has ever made! Also, leave a comment letting me know what your first iPhone was. Were you there from the beginning with the OG iPhone? Or did you get one later? Let’s discuss below!
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.