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Photos of early Apple iPhone prototype leaked

Over the years, a few photos of iPhone prototypes have hit the web, most recently during the patent trial between Apple and Samsung. Now, Ars Technica has gotten its hands on early iPhone images it says are from a former Apple employee.

The photos are from early-2005, two years before the iPhone made its debut. The Apple employee in question worked on hardware projects in the early 2000s, but declined to be identified, lest he/she face the wrath of the Cupertino-based firm, Ars said.

But while we've seen iPhone prototypes before, these images are interesting because of the features that were ultimately removed from the final version of the iPhone: Ars points out USB, Ethernet, and even serial ports on the early iPhone.

The source, however, said that Apple never really thought the ports would end up in the final iPhone; they were just there to make it easier to fine tune the smartphone during the development process.

Also notable, however, is the phone's size: a 5in x 7in display and about 50mm thick. That's much closer in size to today's "phablets" than the sub-4in category which Apple has stayed faithful to these past six years. Still, at that stage, it was impressive to get a modified version of OS X running on something that small, the source told Ars.

There's also an ARM chip that looks like a version of the Samsung S3C2410.

As part of its patent fight with Samsung, Apple turned over documents that provided a glimpse into early iPhone prototypes. But those images were closer to the finished product and showed off various design ideas. There was a boxy, rectangular iPhone in silver with black edges, and one with more rounded edges.

There was also one with a more octagonal shape and jeweled design, and a thinner iPhone with a screen that took up more of the front panel. Another still showed a grooved, silver bottom edge, presumably to help the user get a better grip on the smartphone. The filings also included early shots of the iPad.