Apple seriously considered giving the iPhone a physical keyboard

By , Apr 28, 2012

We’ve heard rumors in the past that Apple had an iPhone prototype with a physical keyboard floating around its Cupertino labs. But the speculation has never been confirmed or denied. Until now.

Tony Fadell, a long-time Apple employee turned Nest founder, was on The Verge’s tech talk show On The Verge last night. And the ex-Senior Vice President dropped some insider information about Apple’s popular handset…

The Verge reports:

“namely, that a hardware keyboard was seriously considered within Apple before the iconic touchscreen-only design was given the green light. He said there were three different versions: an “iPod + Phone,” a different iteration that was called the “iPhone,” and finally, the device that was ultimately introduced back in January of 2007.”

Fadell started working for Apple back in February of 2001 as a contracted designer for the original iPod. He went on to oversee 18 iterations of the popular MP3 player, as well as three versions of the iPhone, before leaving the company in late 2008.

Obviously, going with an all-touchscreen device turned out to be a smart move on Apple’s part. Not only are most smartphones touchscreen-only nowadays, but the device has become the company’s best selling product — by a wide margin.

Nevertheless, it’d still be interesting to see what the other two handsets looked like that Apple was working on alongside the iPhone. What would an Apple-designed smartphone with a physical keyboard look like? What about this iPod + Phone device?

Thoughts?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/shingo.hoshino Shingo Hoshino

    i dink its ugly

  • http://twitter.com/Dongiuj DonGiuj

    But they decided to copy the LG PRADA

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2JFDZXSTUH2HWGIM6NSZX66KWA Kurt

      Especially the iPhone 4 and 4S, they are total rip offs of the LG Prada

      • http://twitter.com/Dongiuj DonGiuj

        I believe the article is about the keyboard, not the rest of the phone.
        Sort it out!

      • cruzcontrol1001

        Maybe with a physical keyboard but I think your wrong apple would never make something that ugly

    • http://www.facebook.com/antman217 Anthony Antunez

      The LG Prada came out a month before the iPhone, I doubt apple could copy a phone and complete OS in a month. If they could that is amazing but based on all their products I’m sure apple had been working on the iPhone for years before the Prada was even conceived. The iPad was a project started even before the iPhone! Btw the LG Prada was a piece of shit anyways.

      • http://twitter.com/Dongiuj DonGiuj

        I agree, the PRADA was and still is a piece of shit. Didn’t say it wasn’t. What month did the iPhone come out in because the PRADA came out in January-February.

  • Anonymous

    “If I could turnnn back timmee”

  • Dan

    If they decide to do that, hopefully they will make 2 version, one with and one without

  • http://twitter.com/iPadFreaK901 iPadFreaK90

    it will become too thick and bulky to carry it around.

  • Anonymous

    Article title is misleading, should reference a past tense. Apple once seriously considered it, is not currently considereing it.
    Don’t turn into TechCrunch, iDB. I would hate to stop visiting you.

    • Aric Bolf

      The title is in past tense. You must’ve misread it.

      • Anonymous

        Indeed I did. Or I’m going bananas!!!

    • http://twitter.com/Dongiuj DonGiuj

      “Seriously considered”
      They did use the past tense.

      • Anonymous

        Wooow haha it’s 8am and I’m going crazy.
        I apologize, iDB. You are still on my white list hahaha

  • http://twitter.com/Jorgenekah Jorge Pozolinni

    Physical keyboards are hirrible, one of my main reasons I never had a BB!

  • Aric Bolf

    Why is your picture showing an iPhone 4/4S with a keyboard attached? The first model came out with rounded edges (and was more comfortable to hold) .

  • http://www.facebook.com/khalil.awada Khalil Awada

    people r waiting for an iphone with a full screen size no edges
    who needs a keyboard , we have the greatest touch screen already
    i think we’ll miss steve :/

  • Kok Hean

    If that happens, then the Android devices will all have slide out keyboards D:

  • http://www.facebook.com/yuvraj.wadhwani Yuvraj Wadhwani

    looks like a Nokia N900 :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Casey-N-Lisa-Potter/100002996352391 Casey N Lisa Potter

    Nope if they give it a physical keyboard I will not buy it….I can’t stand that look, looks tacky and cheap to me, and as mentioned earlier, way more bulky, about twice the size just for an extra keyboard? Doesn’t sound like apples thinking to me, I don’t this one will pan out…unless this is the rumored iPhone nano!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DXQQP3XQ5DPW5D2D6F3CT3VB54 mark

    he left in 2008….most prob it could be a design prototype that was never launched…..dont think apple would so silly to add a keyboard now…..

  • http://twitter.com/kenaan200 kenaan amri

    Wow really nice but if someone wanna change language hahahah how will be

  • http://www.facebook.com/antman217 Anthony Antunez

    This is BS, Apple worked so hard on pushing a multitouch display with a virtual keyboard for 5 years now. I doubt they would take a step backwards and ruin a beautiful phone by adding bulk to it with a physical keyboard. It’s just not apple like.

  • Anonymous

    Does nobody know how to read. All this story is saying is that they considered a physical keyboard in the beginning, NOT that they’re considering one new. The picture is just for demonstration. It’s not a concept or prototype, it’s an actual Bluetooth keyboard case that has been available for the iPhone for a while now.
    I expected better knowledge from iDB readers.

    • Anonymous

      Thank yooou!!!!!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/GuyBey0ndC00L eDDie

    An iPhone or iPad with a game controller add- on connected to a HDTV via straight , iTV or Apple TV. Will give consoles and PC Games lots of problems. Not because of Graphics but because most iOS games are $.99 cents or cheaper than Star Bucks coffee. I feel only doing that will make people see a real game changer in the gaming industry.

  • http://twitter.com/iAppleTech2 iAppleTech

    I would lose apple completely if there was a keyboard on it. phones are now switching to on screen keyboards.

  • Anonymous

    Adding a physical keyboard to the iPhone would be pointless…

  • http://twitter.com/F0X0ID Fred

    A physical keyboard would reck the looks and apple will lose most of their customers…
    Why no just make a more portable Bluetooth keyboard accessory that is not a case but just a simple Bluetooth keyboard on its own?

  • http://www.andrewcassone.tk/ Andrew C

    WHOA! What if they just made a super thin slide out keyboard THAT WAS TOUCHSCREEN!!!! That way we could have bigger keys! idk.. I’m probably dreaming too much.. Either way, I’m buying the LG Optimus Slider with Virgin Mobile soon…

  • http://twitter.com/steph_assouline Stephanie Assouline

    I like how Apple is always looking to step up their game and they keep consumers on their toes. However, if Apple releases an iPhone with a physical keyboard, I probably wouldnt purchase it. Apple prides on their sleek and sexy design and adding a slide-out keyboard would destroy that image for me.

  • Robert Goldberg

    That would’ve ended my experience with iPhones.