It’s been 14 years since the first iPhone was introduced by Steve Jobs, and a lot has changed since then. Each iPhone generation has brought unique advancements that are sometimes hard to notice, but stand out when you look back. And that’s what I did with the GRID frames.
Update: To celebrate Earth Day, GRID is offering a special 20% discount on all of its frames. Use Coupon EARTH2022 when ordering to benefit from the discount. The offer is only valid for April 22, 2022.
I’ve always enjoyed understanding how things are done behind what we see and use every day, like the code and hardware that makes everything work. Earlier this year I discovered GRID, a company that sells disassembled electronics in frames. I even wrote about GRID 4S here on 9to5Mac:
As someone who really loves technology (and Apple, of course), I was looking for related decorations for my house – then I came across GRID 4S, which is literally a room with a disassembled iPhone 4s that you can put wherever you want.
GRID is a company that has been selling framed electronics for a while, and they all look pretty cool. For Apple fans, they have parts with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, and second generation iPod touch.
After recovering the chassis of the iPhone 4s, I had to complete my collection with other models. Seeing how the iPhone has evolved over all these years was nice, but being able to watch all the hardware evolution right in front of me is even more amazing – which is why I wanted to share this gallery with our readers.
Who doesn’t remember when Jobs first unveiled the iPhone in January 2007? It was an iconic moment that changed everything. And even though I never got the iPhone 2G (also known as the iPhone Classic), this product made me want to get into the Apple ecosystem (and I ended up getting the first iPod touch that year).
The construction of this iPhone may seem simple by today’s standards, but it was much more sophisticated than other smartphones of the time. The iPhone 2G’s body was almost entirely aluminum, but with a plastic underside to allow cellular and Wi-Fi signals.
This iPhone already had a built-in rear camera, but the quality was really bad. Its sensor – with a very small aperture – captures 2MP photos and it cannot record video. Also, it has no focus adjustment.
The motherboard has been split into two parts and is based on a Samsung ARM processor since Apple had not yet developed its own Apple Silicon at the time. Although the processor has a single 620 MHz core, Apple has lowered the clock to 412 MHz in order to save battery power. There are other things to note too, such as the simplicity of components like the speakers and the vibration motor.
As a gift, GRID has included the 9to5Mac logo on a metal plate which made my device even more unique.
A year later, Apple completely redesigned the iPhone with the iPhone 3G. It was the first model to support 3G networks, but there weren’t many other changes to its hardware (it even uses the same processor as the iPhone 2G). However, the iPhone 3GS was released in 2009, retaining the same design but with more hardware improvements.
The iPhone 3GS was announced at WWDC 2009 by Phil Schiller, as Steve Jobs had to leave Apple for a few months that year for a liver transplant. During the keynote, Schiller mentioned that the letter “S” stands for “speed”, since the iPhone 3GS was the first to have an improved processor and graphics. Also made by Samsung, this ARM processor is 600 MHz.
Apart from the glossy plastic back, one can notice that the camera of the iPhone 3GS is slightly different compared to previous generations. Unlike its predecessors, the iPhone 3GS had a 3MP sensor with adjustable focus that records 480p video.
It’s also cool how Apple marks its components, even the smallest ones like flex cables.
The iPhone 4 in 2010 was the first major change to the iPhone since the original product. After a massive leak, the iPhone 4 was introduced with a new glass design, Retina display, Apple’s first A4 chip, and significant camera upgrades.
In 2011, exactly one day before Steve Jobs died, the iPhone 4S was announced at an event hosted by Tim Cook, who had recently taken over as Apple CEO. The iPhone 4S followed the iPhone 3GS strategy of keeping the same design as the previous generation, but with deeper hardware improvements.
One of the main highlights was the A5 chip, the second version of Apple’s own ARM chip that was also the first dual-core chip in an iPhone. The performance of the iPhone 4S was significantly better compared to all other iPhones.
Looking at the camera module, it’s easy to guess that it’s much better than the cameras seen on previous iPhones. The sensor seems more advanced, as it now captures 8MP photos and, for the first time, 1080p video. It also has a small LED flash, which was introduced with the iPhone 4.
The front camera was only 0.3 MP, just like on the iPhone 4 (which was the first model to have one), but even so, it certainly provided amazing moments for many people during their first FaceTime calls or selfies taken with an iPhone. Look how small the front sensor is.
Overall, the internal design of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S is much sturdier, and most components like buttons and flex cables feel more refined.
After the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s, both of which have a slightly larger screen, there’s the iPhone 6. I remember watching the Apple event in September 2014 and being very excited by the new iPhones, as they were much larger than their predecessors.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus had an all-new, more rounded all-aluminum design, with the antennas integrated as strips of plastic on the back. With a more compact motherboard and more internal space, Apple was able to add larger batteries to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (they still weren’t perfect, but much better than the iPhone 4 and iPhone). iPhone 5).
The rear camera sensor was still 8MP, but it has more tricks. It was the first iPhone to be able to capture 1080p video at 60 frames per second, or 720p at 240 frames per second, which allowed for super slow motion. Users could capture photos while recording videos, and autofocus became faster and more accurate. You can also see the True Tone LED flash in the photos.
Here, the front camera was already 1.3 MP with the possibility of shooting videos in 720p. In terms of performance, the A8 chip was still a dual-core processor, but now with 64-bit architecture (first introduced with the A7 chip in the iPhone 5s). The iPhone 6 still had a mechanical Home button, which was also the biometric reader.
Finally, we come to the iPhone 7, which I consider the last iteration of the original iPhone form factor before the iPhone X (excluding the iPhone 8 and iPhone SE). The iPhone 7 was an upgrade with a refreshed look (including this gorgeous matte black version) and significant improvements.
Unlike other iPhones, the Home button on the iPhone 7 is somewhat virtual. It’s there, but it’s not a mechanical part since it works on the basis of pressure sensors.
The quad-core A10 Fusion chip was way ahead of the competition back then, and it’s still considered a great chip today. The name “Fusion” is due to the fact that this chip was the first with different cores for optimal performance and energy efficiency.
The iPhone 7’s cameras were quite advanced, with optical stabilization on all models for the first time. The larger 12MP sensor has an f/1.8 aperture to capture better photos in the dark, and it can record video in 4K resolution. The front camera has also taken a giant leap forward with a 7MP sensor.
Components like the Lightning port and the speakers have rubber protection because the iPhone 7 was the first water-resistant iPhone. Speaking of speakers, look how much bigger the iPhone 7’s earpiece is – that’s because it was also the first iPhone with stereo speakers. And I couldn’t forget Taptic Feedback, which is really cool to see that it looks exactly like what Apple shows in its videos.
To look forward
These days we have very different iPhones with no Home button, much smaller chips, and advanced sensors for facial recognition. These, however, I will leave for another article in the future when we get to the next iteration of iPhone design.
If you also want to take a closer look at the hardware of the iPhone or just decorate your home with technology, check out the GRID store to get these frames and more.
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