Early iPhone Prototype Images Surface

iPhone Prototype

Following the discovery of iPad prototypes originating from 2002-2004, the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Samsung continues to offer a fascinating window onto Apple’s design processes. Yesterday evening, The Verge posted a collection of images of further prototype hardware:

Multiple versions of both the iPhone and the iPad are featured, and while we’ve seen some of these before — the iPad prototype with dual dock connectors was sold on eBay back in May — many of the designs are being revealed for the first time. Of particular note are multiple iterations of the iPad featuring different types of kickstands, what appears to be a 16:9 model with wide handles on either side, and an eight-sided iPhone with diagonal corners. Many of the iPad prototypes also feature “iPod” on the back, perhaps giving insight into Apple’s early naming considerations.

Sifting through the numerous images, perhaps the most striking point is that these aging designs have often been revitalized as later hardware models. For instance, there is a model with a two-tone rear which bears an obvious resemblance to the rumored iPhone update arriving later this year. Equally, prototypes also seem to have implemented the current metal-edged aesthetic of the iPhone 4/4S several years prior to their respective launch.

Of course, given Apple’s investment in hardware design, such recurrence is not of any particular surprise. What is of utterly fascinating relevance, however, is seeing quite how many prototypes and designs Apple is willing to run through for the sake of producing a singular device per year.

For years, Apple has clearly experimented with a number of form factors — some even borrowing heavily from Sony — but has continued to present a unified product for the consumer. For all of the development that occurs in Mr. Ive’s laboratory, the consumer is presented with a face of measured cohesion — certainly no small feat to accomplish.

Moreover, despite increasing accusations of leaks from Cupertino, such documents provide apt evidence of the competency of Apple’s security measures. Given the volume of prototype devices, designs, and experiments — a trend presumably continuing today — it’s astounding to consider how little solid information we’re truly graced with in the months leading up to Apple’s product launches.

Equally, given the obvious quantity of experimentation taking place with these devices, this gallery provides a resounding reminder of the potential for inaccuracy and misinformation in the Apple rumor world. Leaks regarding what may or may not be in Apple’s laboratories could refer to any number of ill-fated prototypes, and should accordingly be treated with an enormous grain of salt.