Today in Apple history: Apple receives record preorders for the iPhone 4

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Steve_Jobs_Headshot_2010-CROP
The iPhone 4 wound up selling 1.7 million units in its first weekend.
Photo: Matthew Yohe/Wikipedia CC

xJune 16, 2010: Apple reports a massive surge of interest in the iPhone, with a massive 600,000 pre-orders placed for the iPhone 4 on its first day.

The number is “far higher” than Apple expected, and at the time is the largest number of pre-orders Apple has ever taken in one single day. AT&T suffers server problems thanks to the demand — with 10x the usual traffic on its website. It’s proof positive that Apple is onto a winner!

An important iPhone upgrade

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 until it started to become a sales juggernaut. For example, the original iPhone took 74 days before it passed the 1 million sales mark.

iPhone sales
iPhone sales year by year.
Photo: Business Insider

For a lot of my casual tech-using friends, the iPhone 4 was their “jumping on” point for the iPhone. The iPhone had been around for a few years by this point, and had successfully crossed the chasm from early adopters to everyday users. Although sales had been heading in a positive direction from day one, the iPhone 4 coincided with sales of the iPhone exploding in a big way.

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, it was also the last iPhone ever introduced by Steve Jobs, as he was no longer the CEO by the time the following year’s iPhone 4s was announced — and passed away shortly after it was shown off to users.

The iPhone 4 saw the introduction of FaceTime, an upgraded 5 megapixel camera with LED flash, VGA-quality front-facing camera, refreshed design, new A4 processor, RAM boost, and significant Retina display screen resolution upgrade — with 4x the number of pixels as its predecessor. Less favorably, it also brought Apple’s “Antennagate” scandal, which dragged on until 2012.

I’ve personally always been a big fan of the iPhones of this era, with the 3.5-inch form size, combined with the flatter, Braun-esque design (a whole 24 percent thinner than the iPhone 3GS) having made it Jony Ive’s best iPhone design yet — at a time when Apple design was still shifting rapidly.

Did you rush out to buy the iPhone 4 upon its release? What was your first iPhone? Leave your comments below.

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