Leaked prototype photos show that at one stage the iPhone was planned to be the size of the iPad mini and a much squarer shape. It would also have been a pocket-challenging almost two inches thick.
The pictures were provided to ArsTechnica by a former Apple staffer and date back to 2005. That makes them the earliest prototype images yet, predating the designs that became publicly available through the Apple vs Samsung trial.
Those designs were much closer in form factor to the finished iPhone, or at least its first generation release (pictured above). The new shots look very different: the device is said to be five inches by seven inches.
It’s not clear if Apple did intend to release the device in this size which, between the bulk and the likely price implications, would have made it a tough sell as a consumer product. The 5″ x 7″ form may simply have been for testing, or could even have been a way to throw people off the scent. The person who leaked the images says staff weren’t actually told what the finished product would be, and it appears they’d likely have assumed it was something closer to what wound up being the iPod touch.
This early design is also extremely chunky, though that may be misleading. Part of the bulk is because under the base of the main board (making up the rear of the phone) is a row of ports including a power inlet, USB A and B sockets, an Ethernet cable and even a serial port.
Don’t get too excited and think this is evidence that Jobs and company were considering flexibility for users over style and control for Apple. It appears these ports were solely for easier access for developers testing the software and were never intended for the final product.
One of the other notable revelations of the design is that the board houses a Samsung S3C2410 ARM chip, complete with Samsung label. Given the two companies’ later falling out, it’s intriguing to see that it appears that Samsung was always planned to be at the heart of the iPhone from the outset.