While many early iPhone and iPad prototypes were revealed for the first time during the Apple vs. Samsung trial last year, today Ars Technica got its hands on some photos of an extremely early iPhone prototype that had not yet evolved into the iPhone form factor we know today. In fact, the large prototype with exposed components sports a larger roughly 8.6-inch display that looks closer to an iPad.
It is important to remember Steve Jobs told AllThingsD that Apple originally made an iPad, put it on the shelf, and moved to the iPhone. This is what was probably sitting on the shelf.
The prototype is apparently from 2005 and the images come from a former Apple employee who opted to remain anonymous:
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. (He declined to be named out of concern for retribution from Apple.)
While the image above shows a thick, unfinished device with USB ports, Ethernet, and a serial port, the Apple employee told Ars those components were just for the development process and that “at that early date no one knew what [the final device] would be.”
We estimated the roughly 8-inch display based off the total size of the prototype being about 5″x7″. The Apple employee said that it was also about 2 inches thick and, although it “seems large now,” it was “really impressive seeing basically a version of OS X running on it” in 2005.
Ars added that the prototype appears to be running a version of the Samsung S3C2410—”a distant relative of the chip the first iPhone ended up using, just older and slower.”
Indeed, the chip shown above was clocked at 200-233MHz, while the first 2007 iPhone 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,” Cunningham said.
We got a look at several images of old iPhone and iPad prototype designs from Apple the vs. Samsung trial case filings last year, but today’s photos are clearly of a much earlier prototypes.