Take off your rose-colored glasses.
On June 29, 2007, Apple launched a device that changed the way we thought about our phones. In the years that followed, the iPhone became the most iconic personal device on the planet, spawning countless imitators and creating an entire industry around its content distribution models. In short, even if you own a smartphone from a competitor, the iPhone is the reason it exists in the first place.
That being said, Apple has launched a total of nine different generations of the device so far, and some of them are clearly better than others. Here is the iPhone ranking to end all iPhone rankings, from an idiot who has owned every single one of them.
What is the best iPhone?
9) iPhone 5
I know this one stings a little, but the iPhone 5 was kind of a joke. After years of standing by the “nobody wants a bigger phone” line, Apple finally relented and gave us another half inch of screen real estate. Wow, thanks a bunch, guys!
The move from a 3.5-inch display to a 4-inch display was awesome for about 15 minutes, and then it was too small again. It was like asking for a pair of JNCO jeans from your parents but getting Lee Pipes instead.
What a disgrace. Do you have any idea how many times I had to lie to my friends and say, “This is the perfect size, really”? I’m actually getting sick just thinking about it. Oh, and it was the first iPhone that used Lightning Connectors, so have fun throwing out the 400 30-pin charging cables you already own.
8) iPhone 3G
These were the days before Apple had gotten its upgrade cycle rhythm figured out, and it showed. The sexy aluminum of the original iPhone was replaced with a single piece of crappy black plastic that would scratch if you so much as sneezed on it.
The display was getting old, the battery couldn’t hold a charge to save its life, and the camera still sucked. Its only saving grace was that it launched for a much more reasonable price than the first iPhone. I dropped this phone on a wet floor once and it slid away from me like a bar of soap. I hate it.
7) iPhone 2G
This one started it all, but even back in 2007, it was kind of difficult to like. You might not remember this, but this first iPhone actually cost $17,000—or at least that’s what it seemed like. In classic knee-jerk fashion, Apple scrambled to drop the price down to $399, which was $200 cheaper than the actual launch price. Then, when all the early adopters (rightfully) went literally insane over getting screwed, Apple handed out store credit.
The base model came with 4GB of storage. You know what you can store on 4GB? Approximately half of an iOS update. Oh, and nobody knows what to call this thing so they just call it the iPhone 2G, even though that makes absolutely no sense.
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6) iPhone 4s
The iPhone 4s was basically Apple saying, “You wanted a larger screen? How about you go die in a corn field.” There was almost nothing good about the iPhone 4s, besides the fact that it could play a half-dozen decent games that weren’t on Android. It had a decent camera for the time, which is literally the only thing that got it up this high in the rankings.
The other “marquee” feature on this industrial turd was Siri, which was somehow even worse then than it is now. Siri is great if you’re trying to send a passive aggressive text to your boss while driving and don’t want to smash into a school bus, but that’s pretty much it. Once you’ve reprogrammed her to refer to you as “Mr. Crazy Butt Stuff,” the novelty has fully worn off.
5) iPhone 5s
Apple probably knew it made a mistake with the pitiful screen size of the iPhone 5, but since it refused to change its upgrade pattern it was forced to roll out yet another too-small iPhone in the 5s. The 5s wasn’t bad, but unless you’re a goddamn secret agent or a world leader, its key feature—Touch ID—was pointless.
I know you’re sitting there right now thinking, “Wow, you’re wrong! I value my privacy and security!” You know who wants to break into your phone? Nobody. Those videos of your dog farting at Christmas and photos of half-eaten enchiladas you forgot to post to Twitter aren’t exactly worthy of biometric protection. Sorry.
5) iPhone 7 / 7 Plus
We can easily forgive the faults of the 6 Plus for being the first large Apple phone, but the disappointment that is the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will make you want to take back ever saying you’ll “wait ‘til things are ironed out in the second generation.” Practically identical to the 6, the 7 and 7 Plus only helped Apple catch up to its Android competitors by adding some water resistance and increased storage options. Sure, the camera is improved, but it took Google about a month to best it with the first phone it ever created.
Do you like music? Too bad. In a move that pissed everyone off, Apple mustered all of its “courage” and removed the headphone jack from its flagship device and released $160 electric toothbrush heads packed in a floss box. It’s OK because Apple is a trendsetter, right? Not exactly. Its closest Android rivals in Samsung and LG not only kept the headphone jack but made devices so compact it makes you wonder how much room it took up in the first place. —Phillip Tracy
4) iPhone 6 / 6 Plus
After waiting so long for a big iPhone, we finally got two new sizes, and shockingly they didn’t totally suck. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were actually pretty solid all-around smartphones, as long as you didn’t sit on them. The biggest mark against them is that no matter what size you bought, you were always secretly wondering whether you should have bought the other size instead.
3) iPhone 3GS
How the hell did this one get ranked so high, you ask? A little thing called the App Store. The 3GS was really the first iPhone that made the App Store a place to be. The phone was a good deal more powerful than the 3G, and it could run some impressive games for the time, which caused a massive App Store boom. With the 2G and 3G, the iPhone felt like a decent smartphone, but the 3GS felt like a whole different kind of device, despite looking pretty much identical to its predecessor. That crappy plastic stuck around, but I was too busy playing with apps to really notice.
2) iPhone 6s / 6s Plus
With the 6s and 6s Plus, Apple gave you another chance to pick the right size, and despite the fact that you probably messed it up again, it’s still one of the best iPhone generations yet. The 6s refined so many features that had been added in the past that it’s kind of crazy. Slow-mo video got better, Touch ID got faster, Siri got somewhat usable, and the camera became world-class. Easily the best “S” year iPhone ever, and if you don’t agree you’re wrong.
1) iPhone 4
If you don’t think the iPhone 4 is the best iPhone of all time, I don’t know if we can even be friends anymore. Are you serious right now? Coming from the already great 3GS, the iPhone 4 was such a colossal step up that it’s amazing Apple didn’t retire the iPhone line after hitting such a massive home run.
The all-new design was amazing. It was thin, incredibly sturdy, and it looked fantastic. It was like a flat brick made out of aluminum and glass. You could crack a walnut with this thing and it wouldn’t even flinch.
The screen wasn’t any bigger, but it was a whole hell of a lot sharper thanks to a huge bump in resolution. Looking at the iPhone 4’s gorgeous Retina display for the first time was like gazing into the eyes of the [insert whatever deity you want] as they smiled upon you and also winked at the end. To this day it holds the record for being the flagship longer than any other iPhone—Apple changed its upgrade cycle after launching this phone, probably because it was so awesome—and it was still being sold in 2014, which is also a record. You can’t not love this phone.
If I had the choice, I’d live in 2010 forever.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated for relevance. Additional reporting by Phillip Tracy
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