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Guide to the iPhone family

The iPhone was a groundbreaking mobile phone, first introduced in January 2007 by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple. It combined a mobile phone with an iPod MP3 player, camera, web browser and email client all controlled via an amazing touch screen interface. Since it's introduction, the iPhone has been improved and more features added, including in the latest iPhone 4, an HD video camera and face-to-face video calling. This guide will help you to understand the different models that make up the iPhone range and together with our guide to choosing the right iPhone, will help you to make an informed purchasing decision.

The original iPhone - iPhone 2G

The very first iPhone introduced in 2007. The brand new touch interface astonished the world as it set new standards in interactivity, allowing you to simply touch a number on a web page to dial it and to scroll by flicking, or to zoom in or out by pinching your fingertips together. It incorporates a 2.0 megapixel camera allowing you to take still digital images, but doesn’t have a built in flash or an autofocus feature. It has a built-in iPod with an 8GB hard drive for storing photos and music. For the original iPhone Apple had to develop a new operating system based on Mac OS X, this operating system is designed and created specifically for the iPhone to deliver an outstanding user experience. The touch screen almost fills the entire front panel and measures in at 3.5” with a resolution to deliver clear and crisp images. It connects to Wi-Fi and 2G (EDGE) allowing for fast data transfer. Although it has been eclipsed by later models in terms of features and performance, it is still one heck of a phone that can now be picked up for next to nothing.

iPhone 3G

With the arrival of the iPhone 3G came a new way of internet browsing. 3G allows users to connect to the Internet wherever they are, depending on signal strength, and allowed for even faster data transfer. It uses Safari, Apple’s own web browser, for powerful internet browsing much like that of a computer. It has several built in apps that come on the phone, these include YouTube to view videos on the go, an app to check the Weather and a mail application like that on Macs but redesigned for the iPhone. The iPhone 3G has a new glossy plastic design, replacing the aluminium back on the original iPhone, and the 16GB version can be purchased in either black or white. You can get an 8GB or a 16GB hard drive in the iPhone 3G which gives plenty of space for you to fill up with music, photos and apps. The camera is still 2.0 megapixels and does not support video recording much like its predecessor. One of the best additions to the iPhone 3G was the Assisted GPS which allows you to use the Google Maps app to find your way around.

iPhone 3GS

The iPhone 3GS was released in June 2009 and added quite a few new hardware and software features. The camera is no longer 2 megapixels like the previous 2 iPhones, but it is now 3.15MP. The software behind the camera has also been improved, it is capable of recording good quality video and sound, has a tap to focus feature to reduce blurriness and also has geo-tagging which records location where the photo was taken. A faster processor makes the iPhone 3GS nearly twice as fast as it's predecessor. A new compass app was added which allows the user to see which direction they are facing using the Assisted GPS - handy for walkers and orienteers! This model comes with iPhone OS 3 but is easily upgradeable to the new iOS 4 through iTunes. This particular model is available in black or white, and comes with either a 16GB or 32GB hard drive.

iPhone 4

The iPhone 4—released in June 2010—comes pre-loaded with iOS 4, allowing for app multitasking, the creation of folders to better organise your apps and improved voice controls to make a phone call or to play a song. It has a sleek new design, with a steel frame that doubles as the antenna. This iPhone has two cameras, one on the back and one on the front, which allows face-to-face video calling. The back camera has been improved to 5 megapixels and is capable of recording video in 720p high definition with built-in flash for taking pictures and video in low-light areas. The iPhone 4 can connect to networks via Wi-Fi, 3G and Bluetooth, ensuring you can connect to the Internet no matter where you are. The display of this iPhone is even sharper and clearer than before, allowing text and images to be rendered to extremely high quality. A further addition is the iBooks app: released in conjunction with the iPad, iBooks is an eBook application for the iPhone that makes the most of the iPhone’s screen quality to deliver easy readability. The 8GB model is available only in black, whereas the 16GB and 32GB models are available in black or white.

iPhone 4S

The iPhone 4s—released in 2011—comes pre-loaded with iOS5, the new iOS operating system that features a number of free apps such as Passbook and iMessages, and also iCloud integration. The 4s is currently available from the Apple store with 8GB of memory, though versions that featured up to 64GB memory were previously on sale—meaning that if you are interested in a 4S with a larger memory, a second hand phone might be the best solution for you. The 4s features an 8 megapixel camera as well as 1080p HD video recording, which is an improvement over the 7MP camera of the iPhone 4. One of the most talked about features of the 4s is the introduction of Siri, a voice command system that can send texts, make calls, search the web, and make events all from your vocal instructions. The A5 chipset in the 4s noticeably improves the performance and speed of the iPhone 4s as compared to the iPhone 4. In addition, with Wi-fi, 3G and Bluetooth capability, connecting to the Internet via iPhone has never been easier.

iPhone 5

Launched in 2012, the most noticeable difference between the 4s and 5 is the bigger screen. The iPhone 5 boasts a new, bigger, 4-inch screen and weighs 20% less than the 4s. This iPhone features an improved Apple A6 chip, which when complemented with the iOS6 operating system allows for faster performance. Another big change for this iPhone was the change from a 30-pin charger to the more compact ‘Lightning’ connection. The camera of the iPhone 5 has the same 8 megapixels of the iPhone 4s but is 40% faster and has improved low light performance. In addition, you can view all your photos on the beautiful retina display screen—new to the iPhone 5. An Apple product file-sharing system, AirDrop, also debuts on the iPhone 5. The battery has an overall talk-time of 10 hours on 3G, a two-hour improvement over the 4s. The iPhone 5 is no longer in production, but was previously available in black or white with 16, 32 or 64GB of storage.

iPhone 5C

Positioned as the more affordable version of the iPhone 5S, the newest iPhone on the market, the 5C brings a splash of colour to the normally monochrome iPhone range. Available in white, pink, yellow, blue, and green, the 5c comes pre-loaded with iOS7, the most recent version of the Apple operating system. Keeping the 4-inch retina display of the iPhone 5, the 5c screen also comes with a fingerprint-proof coating—although many reviews have noted that it is not very effective and that the screen gets smudged just as its predecessors did. iPhone 5c also comes with improvements to Siri, the voice activation software that was first released with the iPhone 4s. On the 5c you can now make dinner reservations, update your Facebook status and send a tweet, amongst other things.

iPhone 5s

The most recent and top of the range iPhone is the 5S, available in space-grey, silver, and gold. It is the lightest iPhone so far, weighing in at just 112 grams—10 grams lighter than the 5c and 18 grams lighter than the 4s. The iPhone 5S features an A7 chip—the first dual-core processor to be featured on a smartphone—meaning that it is one of the fastest smartphones on the market and a noticeable improvement from the 5 and 4S models. In addition to this, a M7 co-processor is included in the 5s to improve overall battery life. The iPhone 5s comes pre-loaded iOS7, which features improved Siri and Facebook integration with Apple’s pre-loaded apps such as Calendar and the App Store. Increased security measures on this iPhone include a new fingerprint sensor on the home button and a remote-locking function via Find My iPhone. When purchased new, this iPhone comes with the new Apple EarPod headphones that are claimed to be more durable and offer better sound quality than previous Apple earphones. The camera is still at 8 megapixels, but the flash has seen significant improvements over previous models, with new ‘True Tone’ technology exclusive to the iPhone 5s. The 5s has been called the most advanced smartphone on the market and is perfect for someone who is looking for the latest technology in a stylish package.