The iPhone That Wasn’t

Update: Tony Fadell spoke to Nilay Patel about this device. It’s fascinating.

Sonny Dickson has unearthed something very special:

While it has always been known that Apple considered a variety of ideas when they were deciding to enter the mobile phone market (with ex employees discussing it behind closed doors, as seen in this Cult Of Mac article, not much was known about alternate versions of the iPhone until now.

Much like the first production iPhone, the prototype features many of the same features including an aluminum chassis, multi-touch compatible screen, 2G connectivity and WiFi radios. However, despite carrying a similar design, the phone itself is extremely different from the iPhone we know today.

This thing is wild:

I’ll let Dan Moren take it from here:

It’s long been documented that there were essentially two factions in the development of the iPhone: Tony Fadell, who helped created the iPod and wanted the iPhone to run a version of the music player’s OS, and Scott Forstall, who argued that the iPhone should instead be based on the Mac’s operating system. Forstall won, Fadell left the company, and the rest is history.

The nail in the coffin of course being when Steve Jobs jokingly showed off a rumored look at the iPhone in the smartphone’s debut.

Here’s Gruber’s take, which I agree with:

I think this is more like an emulator, and if Apple had gone this route, the display on the actual device would have been small — only the white rectangular area at the top.