According to the late Steve Jobs, contrary to all appearances, Apple actually began working on the iPad before the iPhone. Now, a newly unearthed early prototype of the iPhone appears to lend more credence to that claim by the celebrated innovator.
A former Apple employee (who asked to remain nameless) sent a batch of photos of the early version of the iPhone to the folks at Ars Technica, and the device looks much more like the iPad than anything approaching a smartphone. Sporting a 5-inch by 7-inch screen, USB, serial, and Ethernet ports, the prototype looks like a tiny table framed by chrome and plastic. According to the ex-Apple employee, the prototype, which is from early 2005, was so experimental that "at that early date no one knew what [the final device] would be."
What's most interesting about this prototype is the fact that Apple basically had an iPad mini in the lab just two years before the commercial iPhone, but nearly five years before the first iPad. In terms of product development, this innovation cycle seems pretty rapid, which only makes the prospects of Apple's rumored iWatch and the patent drawings associated with it, even more exciting.