This iPhone prototype was a lot closer to the size of an iPad than an iPhone at 5"×7" and nearly 2" thick.
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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. (He declined to be named out of concern for retribution from Apple.)
As seen in the gallery above, this early prototype has 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. Apple never intended for all of these to make it into the final product, of course—our source said that because this was a development prototype, ports like Ethernet and serial were included simply to make working on the device easier. Still, "at that early date no one knew what [the final device] would be," the source emphasized, highlighting the constantly changing nature of Apple's development process.
The early prototype is also quite large—about 5"×7" and roughly two inches thick. "Seems large now," our source said, "but at the time it was really impressive seeing basically a version of OS X running on it. "From the looks of the logic board photos, Apple had a decent idea in 2005 of where the iPhone would end up, even if the final product became much more integrated.
The ARM chip looks like a variant of the Samsung S3C2410, which Ars Associate Writer Andrew Cunningham said is "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.
This "new" iPhone prototype is only one of many that have leaked out onto the Web. If you missed them, the second half of the above gallery shows other prototypes we've seen over the last year or so—most of which were released as part of the Apple v. Samsung trial.