Documents submitted to a California court as part of the patent battle between Apple and Samsung provide a fascinating look at the iPhone and iPad designs Apple considered before settling on the devices that eventually went on sale.

Among the revelations was a prototype of the iPhone – developed in 2006, it bears a strong resemblance to the iPhone 4 that went on sale in 2010. Some early designs for the iPad were also revealed, including one with
a pull-out arm that acted as a stand. 

The proto designs

One of the iPad prototypes, which carries the label ‘X9 #4’, appears in images with a kickstand attached to the back. Another picture shows it sitting at an angle on a desk, presumably propped up by the stand. A second prototype, shown without the stand attached, has a hole and a recessed channel carved in the back that would presumably store the stand when it folds away.

Apple sketches of prototype iPhone designs were also shown

While Apple decided against using the stand on the finished product, it’s notable that a number of third-party case makers have built that feature into some of their models. Speck offers the HandyShell, an iPad 2 case with a fold-out stand that doubles as a grip for carrying the tablet (£28, bit.ly/UdGuyZ). 

Other iPad prototypes include a model with a two-stage thickness, thinner around the edge than in the centre.

Among the iPhone prototypes is an octagonal model, labelled ‘boeing v6’, with angled corners and a two-tone design that has a black front and a curved white back. There’s also a prototype that’s longer and thinner than 2007’s iPhone 3G. Most of the prototypes appear to date back to 2006.

Other similar filings with the court revealed that Apple had tasked one of its designers in 2006 with dreaming up ‘Sony-like’ phones (bit.ly/R82U01). The resulting designs had more defined sides. Some were black with a silver band running around the edge, making them look much more like the iPhone 4 than the first handset that Apple offered. 

Variations on a theme

The court submissions also show some early designs for the iPhone’s home screen. In one photo, an early set of icons are arranged onscreen without any text labels underneath – something that was present in later prototypes.

While some icons, such as those for weather, stocks, the calculator and Safari, appear to have remained almost unchanged, others have been through redesigns. In an early version, the iPod button was an orange box with a music note; Apple later changed this to an iPod icon. And the Photos icon showed a young boy on a beach, not the sunflower familiar to millions of iPhone users.

A circa-2006 prototype iPhone appeared in a filing to a California court