A former Apple employee has revealed images of what he claims is one of the earliest iPhone prototypes.
The photos, which were published by Ars Technica on Monday, are said to be an in-house version of the iPhone from early 2005, more than two years before the original iPhone launched in 2007. The anonymous employee who shared the images of the prototype worked on various Apple hardware projects in the early 2000s, he said.
This early Apple prototype was created before the iPhone had started to take on the smartphone shape that we know today. It is five inches by seven inches, and is almost two inches thick, with USB ports, an Ethernet port and a serial port.
Ars Technica's source said that these ports were never intended to be included in the final product. Rather, they were used in the development prototype to make it easier to work the device. “At that early date, no one knew what [the final device] would be,” the former Apple employee said.
As for the size of the device, the source noted that, while five inches by seven inches may seem large for an iPhone now, “at the time it was really impressive seeing basically a version of OS X running on it.”
The source also provided images of some of the internal components that Apple used in the 2005 iPhone prototype. According to Ars Technica, the ARM chip found in the prototype looks like a variant of the Samsung S3C2410, a “distant relative of the chip the first iPhone ended up using, just older and slower.”
Several other early Apple device prototypes have surfaced over the past year after being uncovered during the Samsung vs. Apple trials. In July, photographs of the earliest know iPad prototype from the early 2000s were discovered among court filings, and can be seen here.
In August, an alleged iPhone 4 prototype appeared on eBay, and sold for thousands of dollars. Earlier last year, an eBay seller sold an iPad prototype for $10,200, but may have landed in hot water after it was discovered that the prototype may have been stolen.