Apple’s most revolutionary iPhone innovations

iphone innovations

The 7 best iPhone innovations

Ever since the original iPhone hit stores shelves back in 2007, Apple has skillfully managed to introduce new technologies to successive iPhone models to keep the refresh cycle strong and consumers excited about the latest and greatest model. Not only that, but most new iPhone releases are accompanied by new and innovative technologies that raise the technological bar for all organizations industry-wide. To this end, Apple’s influence within the smartphone industry is immense.

With 12 iPhone models having been released thus far (if we include the 5c, SE and the larger Plus models), and with the iPhone 7 unveiling looming on the horizon, we decided to take a look back at the most important and influential innovations that Apple’s various iPhones have brought to the marketplace.

retina display

Retina Display

Of all the features the iPhone 4 brought to the table, it was Retina Display that truly shook up the industry. The iPhone 4 featured a 960×640 resolution display, packing in an impressive 326 pixels per inch. This exactly doubled the resolution that came with previous iPhone models.

Immediately, the technological leap that the iPhone 4’s Retina Display provided was plain to see. In an instant, displays on older devices such as the iPhone 3GS appeared ancient and pixelated next to the crisp and vibrant iPhone 4 display. Today, every Apple product—including the Apple Watch—sports, at a minimum, a Retina Display.

2 Apple app store

App Store

The impact that resulted from Apple’s 2008 introduction of the App Store can’t be overstated. Put simply, the App Store forever changed the way we interact with our mobile devices. For the first time in history, the App Store made it extremely easy and affordable for the masses to purchase and enjoy mobile applications.

What's more, the App Store incentivized developers to churn out apps that the world had never dreamed possible. From apps like Shazam to an endless array of games, the App Store quickly became a digital economy all its own. In 2015 alone, revenue from the App Store topped $20 billion. Put differently, the revenue Apple generates from the App Store alone is greater than what some other tech companies generate at all.

64-bit processor

64-bit processor

With the iPhone 5s, Apple introduced the 64-bit A7 processor, completely setting a new hardware bar that shocked and surprised the entire smartphone industry. While the arrival of 64-bit processors was inevitable, no one expected Apple to beat everyone to the punch and leave rivals scrambling to keep up. 

Some Apple rivals were quick to dismiss the A7 as nothing more than a gimmick, but such declarations were rooted in fear more than anything else. Truth be told, not only can 64-bit chips access more RAM, but they can also retrieve data in larger chunks. Additionally, the A7 brought with it tremendous improvements for certain tasks such as encoding and decoding video.

So, while the 64-bit architecture on the iPhone 5s may not have had an immediate impact on usability for all users, it signaled Apple’s efforts to future-proof its devices in the years ahead. And, naturally, rival manufacturers such as Samsung inevitably followed suit with 64-bit devices of their own.

4 multitouch


We’d be remiss if we didn’t include multitouch, the underlying technology that made the iPhone possible in the first place. As tends to be the case, Apple didn’t invent multitouch, but it wasn’t until Apple implemented the technology on the iPhone that it became mainstream.

Once Apple introduced the original iPhone based on a multitouch display, the future of mobile computing was clear. Much as Steve Jobs promised, the iPhone was a truly leapfrog product that inarguably set the blueprint that every single smartphone would eventually follow

Touch ID

Touch ID

One of the hallmark features of the iPhone 5s was Touch ID, Apple’s take on fingerprint recognition technology. While the technology itself wasn’t new, it wasn’t until the iPhone 5s came along that it managed to become a feature used by the mainstream. Apple truly succeeded in making the Touch ID set-up process extremely easy while simultaneously ensuring that its implementation was seamless and intuitive.

Thanks to Touch ID, Apple helped make iPhones inherently more secure, especially given how few individuals at the time utilized passcodes. And like clockwork, once the iPhone 5s was introduced, it was only a matter of time before other smartphone manufacturers began adding similar technology to their smartphone lineup.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay

Built on the foundation of Touch ID, Apple Pay was introduced when Apple rolled out the NFC-equipped iPhone 6. Apple Pay is significant because it provides us with a glimpse into how the future of mobile payments will likely operate, with one’s phone serving double duty as a digital wallet. What makes Apple Pay particularly commendable is that it’s extremely easy to use and set up and, more important, it’s incredibly secure as well.

Since the iPhone 6, Apple has extended Apple Pay support to the Apple Watch. Looking ahead, it won’t be a surprise if Apple leverages Apple Pay to facilitate a new person-to-person payment system in iOS 10.

3D Touch

3D Touch

A feature that was reportedly years in development, 3D Touch was one of the hallmark features that Apple introduced alongside the iPhone 6s. For those unfamiliar, 3D Touch adds an additional layer of interaction to the iPhone’s traditional multitouch interface.

Specifically, an iPhone with 3D Touch can detect varying levels of pressure a user is applying to the device. As a result, 3D Touch opens up the door to all sorts of exciting and new types of user interaction.

To date, 3D Touch on the iPhone is limited to a small selection of applications. Still, with the technology in place, it’s only a matter of time before developers truly come up with clever ways to take advantage of the feature in ways that perhaps we can’t dream up just yet.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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