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The new iPhone is here. The iPhone 4S is the next generation of Apple mobile phone, so let's look back at the history of the gadget that ushered in the age of the smart phone.

We first met the iPhone in January 2007, when then-Apple boss Steve Jobs took to the stage and announced a new "widescreen, touch-controlled iPod, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough Internet communications device". But they were not three devices, they were one: the iPhone.

Envisionated by Apple's design guru Jony Ive and masterminded by Jobs, the iPhone was the first mobile phone to do a touchscreen really well.

iPods and Rokrs

The iPhone had its roots in the iPod, Apple's iconic MP3 player. A genuine phenomenon, the iPod was launched in 2001 and changed the face of music forever. With its minimal, intuitive design, the iPod put digital music in the pockets of the people and helped spark the digital music revolution.

Apple tested the waters of the phone market with the Motorola Rokr E1 in September 2005, a Motorola phone that included iPhone-style controls. It could only hold a measly 100 songs -- but it paved the way for the iPhone.

The iPhone arrives

The first iPhone had an aluminium metal back and a 3.5-inch touchscreen, displaying 160 pixels per inch. It had just the one physical button on the front, which returned you to the home screen containing the now-familiar grid of apps. At the time it was a pretty clever new way of arranging stuff on your phone, putting loads of functions at your fingertips and inviting you to customise the phone to your heart's desire.

It didn't have stereo Bluetooth and you couldn't copy and paste text, or -- with the exception of the iPod music app -- run more than one app at a time. Most shockingly, it didn't include 3G, so early adopters browsed the Web at arthritic speeds.

The iPhone landed in the hands of the US public in June 2007, but we had to wait until November here in the UK. It ran iPhone OS software and came in 4GB, 8GB and 16GB flavours.

3G or not 3G

The iPhone 3G followed in July 2008, making Internet surfing a much more pleasant experience. It also heralded the App Store, which allowed third-party developers to make software for the iPhone, so you could buy new games and stuff. The flat silver metal back was replaced by a curved, glossy plastic to improve the signal. The 3G eventually came in white too. Then there was the iPhone 3GS in 2009, which looked identical to the 3G but added a 32GB model.

In 2010 we also saw the arrival of the original iPad, followed less than a year later by the iPad 2.

4 to the floor

There was a new look for the iPhone 4, announced in June 2010. Now made of flat glass with an aluminium surround, the iPhone 4 quickly ran into controversy when it was discovered that the antennas built into the side of the phone could lose signal if held in the wrong hand. Whoops!

The iPhone 4 also boasted an eye-scorching retina display, showing 326 pixels per inch. It now boasted a 5-megapixel camera and recorded 720p video -- and there was a camera on the front too, for the new FaceTime video-calling feature.

Multi-tasking was built into the software for the first time, software renamed iOS as it also ran on the iPad and iPod touch. With an Apple A4 processor and 512MB of RAM inside, the iPhone 4 was twice as powerful as its predecessor and four times as powerful as the first iPhone.

iPhone 4S

The latest iPhone is physically identical to the iPhone 4, with all the changes taking place on the inside: a new A5 processor, 8-megapixel camera and iOS 5 software. iOS 5 boasts improved notifications, iMessage for free messages to other iPhones, and voice-controlled Siri personal helper.  

Did the iPhone change your life? Tell us whether you think the latest addition to the iPhone lineage measures up to its illustrious ancestors, in the comments or on our Facebook page.

To see the life and times of the iPhone in nifty cartoon form, check out our history of the iPhone video. It's magic!

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The grandaddy of the iPhone: the iPod. On the left is the very first iPod, in the middle is the iPod Photo -- the first with a colour screen -- and on the right is the first iPod nano.
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The ill-fated Motorola Rokr E1, the iPhone's distant cousin.
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Behold: iPhone.
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The iPhone 3G added 3G. And apps!
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You can have it any colour, as long as it's black -- or white.
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The 3GS looked very similar to the 3G.
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The iPhone 4 included video calling and multi-tasking, but had a few problems with its antenna...
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The iPhone 4S is identical to the iPhone 4, although the antenna issues are now fixed. Here we see Siri. But what does the future for hold?
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