iPhone at 7: How it changed everything (pictures)

This Sunday marks the anniversary of the very first iPhone's release. Here's a look at how Apple's mobile took over the tech world, and some of the casualties along the way.

Luke Westaway
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Happy birthday, iPhone! Apple's groundbreaking mobile first went on sale seven years ago this Sunday.

Love or hate Apple's phone, there's no doubting its enormous cultural impact, so click through as we chart the history of the iPhone, and the changing face of the smartphone revolution.

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Before the iPhone, there was the iPod. Revolutionary in its own right, this portable music player established Apple as a lethal force in the world of mobile gadgets, and saw the foundation of the iTunes media empire.

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Apple's first foray into the phone world came with 2005's Motorola Rockr, which was designed to work with iTunes. On paper it merged music with mobiles, but in practise it left us feeling underwhelmed.

Steve Jobs demos the first iPhone in 2007
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The memory of the Rockr was washed away however when Steve Jobs revealed the iPhone in January 2007, following years of rumour and speculation.

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Google's then-CEO, Eric Schmidt, (who at the time is a member of Apple's board of directors) helped Jobs unveil the first iPhone. Google would go on to make Android the iPhone's most prominent rival, generating increased tension between the two companies.

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The original iPhone featured a 2-megapixel camera but lacked 3G; copy and paste; and other key features. Its nonremovable battery also proved divisive.

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Here's Jony! Steve Jobs calls Jony Ive, Apple's design chief, during the iPhone announcement, to demonstrate the device's phone interface. In May 2012 Ive received a knighthood for services to design and enterprise.

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The iPhone's secret weapon was its touch interface (illustrated here on an iPod touch), which allowed for a 3.5-inch display unhampered by physical buttons.

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Today we take touchscreen keyboards for granted, but at the time of the iPhone's introduction, the concept was a novel one. Happily, adjusting to the virtual keys wasn't too tough.

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The original iPhone's screen looks tiny by today's standards, but when it made its debut, it was bigger than the screens on many of its rival devices. Nokia's powerful N95 smartphone for instance had a 2.6-inch display, compared with the iPhone's 3.5-inch panel.

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The Safari mobile browser proved that a large touchscreen interface was excellent for Web browsing, at least -- and the secret ingredient was Apple's pinch-to-zoom technology. Using this multi-digit interface, iPhone owners were able to zoom and swoop through Web pages with ease.

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Jobs speaks with developers at the World Wide Developers' Conference in San Francisco on 11 June 2007, shortly before the iPhone goes on sale. Google's Eric Schmidt can be seen on the left, apparently deep in thought.

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At the time the iPhone was launched, its biggest rivals were chunky, feature-packed smartphones like the Nokia N95...

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...and the BlackBerry. Nowadays physical keys on phones have all but died out -- just one of the victims of the iPhone's success.

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Amid furious hype, the doors to San Francisco's downtown Apple store opened seven years ago today, to let in eager iPhone shoppers.

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Throughout the iPhone's history, Android has been its nemesis. Google's mobile operating system was officially launched on 5 November 2007, less than five months after the first iPhone went on sale. This prototype running early software doesn't look like much compared with today's Android -- a testament to how rapidly Google's OS has evolved.

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One year after the iPhone's debut, Apple's Steve Jobs led the audience in singing happy birthday to the gadget.

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The iPhone 3G went on sale on 11 July 2008. It had a similar design but had 3G powers for faster mobile data, and introduced some excellent new features.

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For instance, the iPhone now had GPS, removing the need to ever carry a paper map again. Here's a screenshot of Google Maps pinpointing CNET's San Francisco offices.

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The 3G also saw the launch of Apple's App Store. It had around 500 apps when it launched -- today the figure is closer to 1 million.

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Later in 2008 the first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1, went on sale. It wasn't a serious rival to the iPhone, but rapid development would quickly turn Android into a real competitor.

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In November 2008, "The Simpsons" saw Lisa gazing at rows of "MyPhones" in a "Mapple Store" Apple parody -- a sure sign that the iPhone, while just over a year old, had become part of pop culture.

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A year later, in the summer of 2009, we got our first look at the 3GS, which was faster than its predecessor. It wasn't a radical step up, but it didn't need to be -- by this point the iPhone was already a success story.

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Indeed, Steve Jobs touted Apple's success at Macworld 2009, saying 17 million iPhones had been sold through the end of 2008. Those were impressive figures, which would steadily rise over the next few years (Apple sold more than 35 million iPhones in the second fiscal quarter of 2012 alone, for instance).

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By early 2010 HTC had emerged as the biggest iPhone rival, and was chosen by Google to create the first Nexus smartphone -- the Nexus One, released on 5 January. Here it is, fresh out of the box.

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Apple didn't rest on its laurels. On 27 January 2010, just a few weeks after the Nexus One went on sale, Steve Jobs showed off the first iPad, a tablet computer that was released off the back of the iPhone's success.

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Rumoured names for the iPad included iTablet and iSlate. Apple's tablet was much derided at first, labelled by its detractors as an oversized iPod touch.

Apple's head start in the tablet market would prove invaluable. Today, Android has overtaken iOS as the most widely used smartphone platform, but Apple still dominates the world of tablets.

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The iPad proved popular straight away when it went on sale on 3 April 2010, with queues at Apple stores across the US.

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A few days later Apple gave a preview of iOS 4, which was then dubbed iPhone OS. Among the most exciting new features was multitasking -- the power to have several apps running at once.

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Jobs also revealed that the iPhone would enjoy folders for apps. The Apple head honcho called the implementation of these folders "beautiful."

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Hot on the heels of the iPad, Apple shows off the iPhone 4 on 7 June 2010.

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Jobs praises the design of the iPhone 4, which offered a new, industrial look that Apple has yet to stray from.

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The iPhone 4 event saw the first public FaceTime call, between Steve Jobs and designer Jony Ive. This momentous chat was every bit as awkward and stilted as every video call since.

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Apple called the iPhone 4 the "biggest leap since the original iPhone."

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Jobs offers a breakdown of the iPhone 4's specifications. The phone's Retina Display was a standout feature, packing 960x640 pixels compared with the 800x480 display on Samsung's flagship at the time, the Samsung Galaxy S.

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By the time the iPhone went on sale on 24 June, queuing for new Apple products was an established pastime. For some, it was a way to earn some cash, trading their valuable place in line for money.

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The iPhone 4 saw Apple face one of the greatest PR disasters in recent tech history, as it was revealed that gripping the phone's steel flanks could cause signal to drop.

On 16 July, at a specially organised event, Jobs said that getting signal loss from holding the phone was "not unique" to the iPhone 4. To prove that rival smartphones were also vulnerable, signal was shown dropping on a BlackBerry and some other mobiles too.

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Despite Antennagate, the iPhone 4 was a hit. Later in 2010 a new rival emerged onto the smartphone scene, however: Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system was colourful, easy to use, and was the OS of choice for struggling phone giant Nokia.

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The iPhone 4S was Apple's fifth phone, announced on 4 October.

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The iPhone 4S introduced iOS 5, which brought Twitter integration.

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iOS 5 also introduced Siri, Apple's snarky, voice command-powered assistant. Siri was fun to toy with, but to this day voice control remains sketchy at best. To find out why making voice control work is such a challenge, check out this video.

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On 5 October 2011, the day after the iPhone 4S was shown to the public, Steve Jobs died at his home in Palo Alto, Calif., due to complications from a relapse of his pancreatic cancer. In a statement, Apple said, "Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives. The world is immeasurably better because of Steve."

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A tribute to Steve Jobs sits outside an Apple Store in London. Apple and Microsoft flew flags outside their headquarters at half-staff following the news of Jobs' death.

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In early 2012 this graphic circulates online, showing mobile phones before and after the iPhone -- a clear visual representation of the impact Apple's device has had on the industry.

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The year 2012 saw Samsung emerge as Apple's biggest smartphone rival. The Galaxy S3 was announced on 3 May to great fanfare.

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Samsung's phone was significantly larger than the iPhone, pleasing phone fans who craved larger displays. CNET awarded the Galaxy S3 four and a half stars and an Editors' Choice award.

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In September 2012, Apple countered with the iPhone 5, which increased the iPhone's screen from 3.5 to 4 inches.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook looks on as Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl gets to grips with the latest iPhone.

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The iPhone 5 introduced iOS 6. Among the new features were Facebook integration...

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...and a significantly less popular feature, Apple Maps. Striking Google's own Maps software from iOS, Apple instead created its own cartographical app using data from GPS company TomTom. The result was dodgy satellite imagery, shoddy listings and sometimes even whole towns struck from the record.

The Maps crisis provoked an apology from CEO Tim Cook, who said, "At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better."

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Despite issues with Maps, the iPhone 5 was another hit. On 24 September 2012 Apple said sales hit 5 million during the gadget's first weekend on sale.

By this point however, Android had become the most popular mobile operating system globally, thanks largely to cheaper smartphones from the likes of Samsung and Huawei.

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Though Android devices are winning in market share, the iPhone manages to retain plenty of cultural cache. Here singer-songwriter Taylor Swift brandishes an Apple phone at ABC News' "Good Morning America" Times Square Studio on 23 October 2012, in New York City.

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January 2013 saw another iPhone competitor hit shop shelves. This time it was the much-delayed BlackBerry 10 operating system, seen here running on a BlackBerry Z10 (left).

BlackBerry 10 showed promise, but would ultimately prove too little too late. Today, BlackBerry's once vast smartphone empire is facing ruin -- though there are some things that BlackBerry did right.

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In the wake of the Maps crisis, Apple shook up its software, putting design-pro Jony Ive in charge of revamping iOS. The result is iOS 7.

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iOS 7 offered a serious visual revamp, flattening icons and adding translucent effects. A prominent new feature was Control Center, which offered quick access to import settings.

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On 10 September 2013, Apple broke from tradition and revealed not one, but two new smartphones. The first was the iPhone 5S, which packed the 64-bit A7 processor and a fingerprint scanner, used to unlock the phone and verify purchases.

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The second was the plastic iPhone 5C. Speculation ahead of the 5C's debut suggested that this colourful mobile would be aimed at those shopping on a budget, but in fact it turned out to be rather expensive. Apple sold 9 million of its new iPhones in their first weekend on sale.

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With the iPhone still a storming success, Apple's rivals continued to maneuvre in a bid to make their own mobiles a hit. Days before the iPhone 5S was announced, Nokia confirmed plans to sell its handset business to Microsoft. Then-CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer (left), called the acquisition "a bold step into the future."

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Meanwhile, spring of 2014 saw HTC and Samsung produce well-received iPhone rivals. The HTC One M8 (left) and Samsung Galaxy S5 each earned four and a half stars in CNET's reviews.

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Recently, on 2 June 2014, Apple surprised guests at its WWDC event, revealing that iOS 8 would allow apps to communicate with each other, and enable the installation of third-party keyboards.

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On 18 June, Amazon revealed a late entry in the smartphone race. The Fire phone seeks to take on the iPhone with dynamic 3D effects, as well as the power to scan everyday objects before buying them online.

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That brings us to the present, as excitement builds for the iPhone 6, which is rumoured to come in a variety of size options, with redesigned buttons.

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That concludes the story of the iPhone so far. What comes next for Apple's smartphone is unclear, but if we think back to life before the iPhone, it's clear that Apple's mobile has left an indelible mark on both the tech sphere, and the wider world. Happy birthday, iPhone -- here's to the next seven years.

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