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A prototype of Apple's click wheel iPhone: video shows us how clunky it would've been

Posted: , by Paul K.

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A prototype of Apple's click wheel iPhone: video shows us how clunky it would've been
We've heard tons of stories and legends about the designing of the original iPhone — Steve Jobs and the boys at Apple had to go through numerous concepts and juggle a lot of ideas before finally settling on the iconic design. It has been said that Jobs planned iOS out to be either an advanced version of the operating system that the good old iPods have, or a slimmed down version of Mac OS X. Nowadays, it's obvious which idea the team went ahead with, but what if things were different — what if the OG iPhone was actually based on the iPod and its signature clicker wheel?

A video of an alleged iPhone prototype from that era has been leaked and shows us the type of otherworldly handset that the iPod-based iPhone would've been. The device shown has its display split in two parts — a bottom half, which houses a virtual representation of the clicker wheel, and a top half, which displays the good old iPod UI, enhanced with a few phone features. The name of the operating system is Acorn OS, but that was just a project title at the time.

When we've heard stories about the clicker wheel iPhone before, we always imagined that it would be a hardware controller — like the one on the iPod before it. So, either what we see in this video (assuming that it's legit) is just a software representation of the hardware; or the design team was juggling with the idea to have the bottom portion of the screen to be dedicated to controls at all times. We can easily imagine how that clicker wheel can change into a keyboard when texting or a numpad when dialing. Still, it does look rather clunky and it limits the main screen area quite a lot, so we can see why this project was scrapped.

Now, is this the real thing? Who knows... Apple is quite adamant in keeping its secret projects secret and its prototypes destroyed. Maybe, just maybe, a few of these prototypes are out there in some special people's hands, but it's obvious why no one would leak footage of them — it'd be easy to figure out who did it. But hey, even if it's fake, we'd say it's a pretty good representation of how the clicker wheel iPhone would've looked and worked, and that's cool!

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posted on 06 Jan 2017, 05:26

1. Plasticsh1t (Posts: 2176; Member since: 01 Sep 2014)


posted on 06 Jan 2017, 05:41

2. maple_mak (Posts: 905; Member since: 18 Dec 2013)

Looks great, but unfortunate replaced by a home button.

posted on 06 Jan 2017, 13:09 2

7. DGxumbreo7 (Posts: 63; Member since: 27 Nov 2016)

*thankfully replaced by a home button

posted on 06 Jan 2017, 05:41 1

3. ProblemSolver15 (Posts: 356; Member since: 14 Jun 2010)

Looks like you would have had to dial similar to a rotary phone. Interesting. I wanted to see this person scroll to the SMS settings to see how that would have been. Nice to see what could have been. We're all technology geeks, so this is something we all can appreciate.

posted on 06 Jan 2017, 06:25

4. N6600 (Posts: 19; Member since: 17 May 2012)

The Onion went even further. As I can't post links, go to youtube and look for "Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard" :D

posted on 06 Jan 2017, 07:50

5. ibend (Posts: 6675; Member since: 30 Sep 2014)

or mactini.. a macbook with single button,,,
(this one is really old, it's from 2008 iirc :-/)

posted on 06 Jan 2017, 09:16

6. Kil4thril (Posts: 64; Member since: 05 Oct 2016)

Makes me wish my old Rio Karma still worked

posted on 06 Jan 2017, 13:29 1

8. LanjaKodaka (Posts: 135; Member since: 27 Sep 2016)

The scroll button/key is/was a touchscreen for this prototype ?

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