Newly revealed early Apple iPhone prototype had massive 5x7-inch display

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
A newly revealed iPhone prototype from early 2005 shows a device very different from the final shipping product, with a 5-by-7-inch display nearly 2 inches thick frame much closer to the size of an iPad.

Prototype
A prototype Apple device that eventually led to the creation of the iPhone, via Ars Technica.


The development-only prototype, revealed on Monday by Jacqui Cheng of Ars Technica, also featured a number of ports, including USB, serial and even a full-fledged Ethernet connection. The images of the device were revealed by a former Apple employee who saw some of the earliest iPhone prototypes.

While Monday's post refers to the device as an iPhone prototype, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs himself revealed in 2010 that his company actually started work on a tablet before it eventually became the iPhone. The larger display size of the prototype hardware would suggest this may have actually been intended as a tablet-style device.

"I'll tell you a secret: It actually started with a tablet first," Jobs said at the AllThingsD conference. "I had this idea about having a glass display, a multitouch display you could type on with your fingers. I asked our folks, could we come up with a multitouch display that we could type on? And six months later they came back with this prototype display."

Prototype
The early prototype had a number of ports for development purposes. Via Ars Technica.


While Apple decided the time was not right for a tablet, the technology they had developed in prototyping the device, particularly touchscreen scrolling, prompted the company to begin pushing toward building a smartphone. The first-generation iPhone eventually arrived in 2007.

The source who provided pictures of the previously unseen prototype to Ars said that "at that early date, no one knew" what the final product would actually become. And while 7 years later it may seem like a bulky relic, the source said that at the time it was an impressive piece of hardware.

"At the time it was really impressive seeing basically a version of OS X running on it," they said.

Prototype
The logic board onApple's touchscreen prototype looks more like a PC than a smartphone. Via Ars Technica.


The prototype features a Samsung-built ARM A9 chip clocked at between 200 and 233 megahertz. The Samsung ARM11 chip that would eventually ship in the first iPhone had a clock speed twice that.

The prototype revealed on Monday is one of the earliest functioning units ever seen outside of Apple's top secret Cupertino, Calif., campus. The company was forced to publicly disclose a number of prototype devices last year in its ongoing patent infringement litigation with Samsung.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    macsavymacsavy Posts: 15member
    Thats awesome!
  • Reply 2 of 40
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member


    That looks like a typical commercial ARM single board computer sold for development, with a touchscreen stacked on top... a common configuration.


     


    The Flash card slot is a giveaway.  Apple might've bought a Windows CE dev kit off the shelf, and ported OSX to it.


     



     


    Or it could be an ARM reference design.  Either would be a normal starting development path most engineers would take.  Been there.


     


    Still cool to see.  I love prototypes.  Reminds me of the original prototype Windows Mobile phone:


     


     


  • Reply 3 of 40
    phone-ui-guyphone-ui-guy Posts: 1,018member


    Looks like a pretty standard development prototype. The only interesting part is that they tried to make it all fit behind the display. Usually you see these things as large boards with the display mounted to the board. It was obviously critical for them to also use it as a proof of concept as a "hand-held" form factor to validate the user experience prototypes. 


     


    I understand why they don't show much of their old prototypes, but it would be nice to see more. :)

  • Reply 4 of 40
    tylersdadtylersdad Posts: 176member


    Well...5x7 might be a tad too large. However, after playing with my wife's Note 2, I'm convinced that a 5" - 5.5" iPhone would be the perfect phone.


     


    After playing with her phone, I'm very glad I bought an iPhone 5. I just wish the screen were as big as her Note 2.

  • Reply 5 of 40
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Cool. I can't wait to see Samsung release a phone that's 5 x 7 and 3 inches thick - with everything from USB and CF to parallel ports.

    And then they'll brag about how innovative it is and how it's nothing like Apple's prototype.

    And the normal Samsung shills here will brag about how the future is 5 x 7 phones and the whole market is going there and Apple will be left behind if they don't release one soon.
  • Reply 6 of 40
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member


    So who's the source that leaked this?

  • Reply 7 of 40


    What's that in the screen print legend? www.armkorea.com? 


     


    Apple using Korean hardware in their prototypes?? Whodathunkit!!1!

  • Reply 8 of 40
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member
    Yeah, I agree with Tylersdad. After playing with the Enterprise, I absolutely need a spaceship sized iPhone.
  • Reply 9 of 40


    Also from the Ars Technica piece... the iPhone BSG edition? :


     


  • Reply 11 of 40



     


    What's that there in the screen-print legend? www.armkorea.com?


     


    Apple using Korean tech in their prototypes?? No way!!1!

  • Reply 12 of 40
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member


    Whats that slot next to the flash card slot?  Is that a SD card slot?

  • Reply 13 of 40
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,198member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tylersdad View Post


    Well...5x7 might be a tad too large. 



     


    Not really, since was likely a tablet prototype. Not a phone one.


     


    for a tablet it might have been a bit too small

  • Reply 14 of 40
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,913member
    Newton sized. Well, screen at least. :-)
  • Reply 15 of 40
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Phone-UI-Guy View Post


    Looks like a pretty standard development prototype. The only interesting part is that they tried to make it all fit behind the display. Usually you see these things as large boards with the display mounted to the board. It was obviously critical for them to also use it as a proof of concept as a "hand-held" form factor to validate the user experience prototypes. 



     


    That would be true of larger PC type boards.  This kind of SBC usually fits very easily behind a display. 


     



     


    Moreover, this particular development setup doesn't look very handheld friendly, considering they mounted the circuit board upside down with no protection from fingers, and they have what looks like about 2-3" tall legs for sitting on a desk.  


     


    Now, if they removed the legs and slapped it into a rectangular plastic case, that would be better for testing in someone's hands. 

  • Reply 16 of 40
    see flatsee flat Posts: 145member
    What a stupid tittle.

    It's not an iphone prototype. It is an ipad prototype. Jobs said they started working on the ipad first... and at one point they told themselves... "we could do a phone" and then back benched ipad development.

    The first time I heard him say this was at All Things Digital interview with Walt Mossberg.
  • Reply 17 of 40
    kdarlingkdarling Posts: 1,640member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tylerk36 View Post


    Whats that slot next to the flash card slot?  Is that a SD card slot?



     


    Good guess.  Sure looks like it matches up:


     


     


  • Reply 18 of 40
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    This just proves that Apple gimped the iPhone. Why, even their prototypes had VGA, USB, and SD cards!¡

  • Reply 19 of 40


    Made in Korea.

  • Reply 20 of 40
    desuserigndesuserign Posts: 1,316member


    Maybe, but if you still expect clarity from a headline, you need to learn about critical reading.


     


    We know what Steve said (we all heard it,) but we've all also heard him say a number of things that weren't true/were spun/etc. Do you really think that in the wake of PIMs/cell phones (like the Trio, etc.) that Apple wasn't looking at putting a cell phone in it from day one?


     


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by See Flat View Post



    What a stupid tittle.



    It's not an iphone prototype. It is an ipad prototype. Jobs said they started working on the ipad first... and at one point they told themselves... "we could do a phone" and then back benched ipad development.



    The first time I heard him say this was at All Things Digital interview with Walt Mossberg.

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