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Apple’s Early iPhone, iPad Prototypes Look Funny Now

You don’t see Apple’s Jony Ive speaking in front of the camera too often, but when he does, the concept behind Apple’s devices (iPhone & iPad) becomes as clear as sunlight. The work his team puts into designing products as we know them today can also be measured when you put them side-by-side with their earlier prototypes, just like the people at Buzzfeed did.

Apple iPhone early prototypes side-by-side
The patent fights Apple is involved in brought to light some of the most wonderful and—we can now say—funny iPhone and iPad prototypes you could imagine, since we are already used to the clear and simple design of these products.

The guys from BuzzFeed and The Verge have dug deeper and published some amazing pictures of the early iPhone 4 prototype, showing surprising edges, angles, diagonal corners and [sic!] an iPad with a kickstand! You have to see them for yourself, it’s like walking on another planet! Not all of the prototypes look “alien” though: some of them are funny, and some look like viable products. But when you look at the iPhone with diagonal corners, you'd be happy that Apple dropped that concept.

In a letter to Jony Ive, Apple’s Richard Horwath claims the iPhone 4-like design looks “old next to the extrusion”, and this happened a year before the original iPhone launched. His final thought in that paragraph is that the device has size, shape and comfort benefits, which cannot be ignored when talking about a “device we carry and use all day, every day”. Fast forward a couple years and the design reappears: the iPhone 4 as we know it today with a little polishing.

The iPad with a kickstand sounds like a joke now, but Apple played around with one prototype and luckily found that this isn’t what we, consumers, are after. As Steve Jobs once said, the iPad was something Apple was working on since early 2000, and these prototypes show how they cleared the tablet from all unnecessary objects, curves and buttons to make it the device we know today.

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