iPhone 4 preorders set record: Today in Apple history

June 16, 2010: Apple reports a massive surge of interest in its smartphone, with iPhone 4 preorders racking up 600,000 sales on thir first day.

The company calls the number “far higher” than expected. At the time, it’s the most iPhone preorders Apple has ever taken in a single day. AT&T suffers server problems thanks to the demand — with 10 times the usual traffic on its website. It’s proof positive that Apple is onto a winner!

iPhone 4 preorders prove Apple has a hit on its hands

Looking back, it’s easy to assume that the iPhone was always a massive hit for Apple. While it’s true that the device was always a critical and commercial success, it took a few years for it to become a true sales juggernaut. For example, it took the original iPhone 74 days to pass the 1 million sales mark.

For many of my friends who aren’t totally into tech, the iPhone 4 was their “jumping on” point. After a few years on the market, the iPhone had successfully crossed the chasm from early adopters to everyday users. Although iPhone sales headed in a positive direction from Day 1, the iPhone 4 sparked an explosion in consumer interest.

The device benefitted from a ton of good publicity for Apple, coming the same year the company launched the first-generation iPad. On a sadder note, the iPhone 4 was the last iPhone ever introduced by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. He was no longer healthy enough to serve as CEO when the following year’s iPhone 4s was announced. Jobs died shortly after Apple showed off that device.

iPhone sales year by year: iPhone 4 launch saw unprecedented demand for Apple's smartphone.
iPhone sales year by year.
Image: Business Insider

iPhone 4 launch: FaceTime and other features make it a hit

What fueled the massive increase in preorders for iPhone 4? Along with a refreshed design, the device introduced FaceTime, the video calling service we know and love today. Specs-wise, the phone brought an upgraded 5-megapixel camera with LED flash, a VGA-quality front-facing camera, a new Apple A4 processor and a RAM boost. A significantly upgraded Retina display meant a screen resolution that packed four times the pixels of its predecessor.

Less favorably, the iPhone 4 spawned Apple’s “Antennagate” scandal, which dragged on until 2012. Due to its sleek design, the phone occasionally dropped calls when held a certain way. The problem occurred most often when an iPhone 4 owner held the device in their left hand, with their palm covering the phone’s tiny antenna gap.

The evolution of Jony Ive’s product designs for Apple

I’ve personally always been a big fan of the iPhones of this era. The iPhone 4’s 3.5-inch form factor, combined with its flatter, Braun-esque design (a whole 24% thinner than the iPhone 3GS), made this  Apple design chief Jony Ive‘s best iPhone yet. At the time, Apple’s design style was shifting rapidly under Ive’s guidance. (Ive left Apple in 2019 to start his own design firm, LoveFrom, although he remained involved with Cupertino’s projects for a couple of years. He severed ties with Apple completely in 2022.)

Did you preorder the iPhone 4 or line up to buy one upon its release? What was your first iPhone? Leave your comments below.

Leave a Comment