The original iPhone could have been a huge phablet-style device, a previously unseen prototype reveals, in a revelation that suggests smartphone history could have played out very differently indeed.
Discovered by Ars Technica’s Jacqui Cheng, photos of the coulda-bin iPhone reveal Apple was mulling a five-by-seven-inch display that, by since-minted industry definitions at least, actually qualifies it as a tablet.
The device, the existence of which was flagged by a former Cupertino mover and shaker, also feature multiple ports, including USB and Ethernet, rather than the single Apple-kit-only connector of the finished product.
Cheng’s discovery tantalisingly points to an alternate smartphone reality in which tablet-sized devices may have become mainstream much earlier. But also one in which the iPhone may never have revolutionised consumer technology, prompting a wave of similar-looking copycat devices that show no sign of letting up even now.
The larger iPhone prototype also suggests that Apple at least considered bigger form factors for its phone, casting fresh light on Steve Jobs’s later and very vehemently expressed derision for smartphones with bigger displays. And, indeed, tablets with displays he deemed too small.