Very early iPhone prototype shows a tablet-sized smartphone

We have seen plenty of iPhone prototypes over the past year, especially during the Apple vs Samsung patent battle. However, the latest one to spring forth from Cupertino’s archives is less a phone, more like the phablets we are so used to seeing nowadays. Of course, this just proves that this phablet craze isn't all that new. We are still waiting for a fanboy to say Apple invented the whole thing.

Ars Technica got exclusive pictures of the in-house version of the iPhone from early 2005, two years before the phone was officially unveiled. Two years is a long time in tech industry and there can be no better indication than this.

Look, ma! It's an iPhablet (Image credit: Ars Technica)

Look, ma! It's an iPhablet (Image credit: Ars Technica)


The images, sent to Ars by a former Apple employee who worked on various Apple hardware projects, show an early prototype with a number of ports that we're used to seeing more commonly on computers than on mobile devices, including USB ports, an Ethernet port and even a serial port. However, the biggest difference between iPhones of today and this prototype is the giant 5 inch by 7 inch display.

Of course, Apple never intended for all of these sundry ports to make it into the final product and it was confirmed by the source who said that the ports were all included to aid in the development of the prototype. Ports such as the Ethernet and serial were included simply to make working on the prototype easier. "At that early date no one knew what (the final device) would be," the source added, indicating the tightly-controlled final device designs in Apple as well as the changing nature of Apple's development process.

The early prototype is around two inches thick. "Seems large now," the website’s source said, "but at the time it was really impressive seeing basically a version of OS X running on it." We can totally picture this design being brought up again when the iPad was in the development stage. However, this prototype is closer to the iPad mini dimensions, rather than its big brother.

The website further reports that the ARM chip is a variant of the Samsung S3C2410, which is in turn a close cousin of the chip used in the original iPhone. The chip shown in the image was clocked at 200-233MHz, while the first 2007 handset used a 620MHz chip underclocked to 412Mhz. "This chip is also an ARM9 chip, while the original iPhone eventually ended up using an ARM11 chip, but obviously Apple intended to use Samsung-manufactured ARM chips even this far back," the report said.

Published Date: Mar 12, 2013 12:44 PM | Updated Date: Mar 12, 2013 12:44 PM