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Early 2005 iPhone Prototype Looked More Like a Thick iPad Mini

Ars Technica shares several photos of an early functional prototype of the iPhone from 2005, revealing a device closer in size to a thick iPad mini than an iPhone.

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The photos were sent to Ars by an anonymous former Apple employee who worked on the project in the early 2000s. The prototype is 5x7 inches in size, and nearly two inches thick - though much of the thickness was to accommodate features like serial and Ethernet ports installed purely to use the device in a development environment.
Apple watchers have seen all manner of iPhone prototypes pop up on eBay, in court documents, and in leaked photos. But most were either close approximations of the first iPhone that was released in 2007 or of later models.

What we don't often get to see is early Apple prototypes, those from way before the iPhone started to look like a phone-like object. That's why we were excited to receive photos showing an in-house version of the iPhone from early 2005. The images to Ars through a former Apple employee who worked on various Apple hardware projects in the early 2000s and was thus exposed to some of the earliest versions of the iPhone.
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Ars Technica points out that the Samsung ARM chip used is "a distant relative of the chip the first iPhone ended up using, just older and slower."

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Related roundup: iPhone 6

Top Rated Comments

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23 months ago
that's a table, not a tablet
Rating: 36 Votes
23 months ago

Wow, that is an Atari VCS joystick port right?
Why did they scrap that feature? :(


In the PC world... that is called a serial port.
Rating: 19 Votes
23 months ago
I think everyone's readying way too much into this...

This isn't a prototype in a way that this hardware would have ever been pitched. This looks like a prototype board being used for software development. Dev boards like this get used all the time. You throw together some hardware that approximates the processor and memory structure that will be used for the final product and the software engineers get started while the hardware guys do their thing. They almost always have a lot of extra I/O used for debugging (like the Ethernet and serial port).

I've used very similar looking setups to develop software for locomotive air brakes and automotive ECUs. Nobody looked at the dev board and immediately though that it was the smallest air brake system they'd ever seen, or the slowest car. Seriously, the fact that a dev board used to develop software for the iPhone looked ugly means nothing.
Rating: 16 Votes
23 months ago
As usual, Android copies Apple! Samsung Note is a ripoff of the original iPhone!

:D :apple:
Rating: 11 Votes
23 months ago

Thank god the iPhone was released at a later date when everything was a bit smaller. :eek:

Also, I wonder what the earlier oses were like :rolleyes:


Rating: 10 Votes
23 months ago

that's a table, not a tablet


Rating: 8 Votes
23 months ago
lol isn't this more like an iPad prototype?
Rating: 8 Votes
23 months ago

VGA port... nice! Amazing how prototypes use available technology and then morph into what we have today.


That's a serial port, not VGA.
Rating: 7 Votes
23 months ago

I don't know how well a phone would work tied into an Ethernet connection. You'd have to have some seriously long cords available to be 'mobile'.


It was probably just for development's sake. Considering they were building a whole new platform from scratch, it was probably easier and more reliable to mess around with an Ethernet port than getting the WiFi protocol working from scratch. And eventually just have it as a fallback.

So while they were waiting for WiFi module + drivers to be written, or if WiFi broke via a patch, they could still do "something" to test the Internet integration / app store protocols / etc.

I mean, I've seen some prototypes for neat things... and some of the early EARLIEST stages of the prototypes were in large wooden enclosures instead of the cool+small+metal enclosures they wound up with.
Rating: 7 Votes
23 months ago
so steve wasn't BS when he said apple were making a tablet first and shelved it to develop the iphone...
Rating: 7 Votes

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