An email from Steve Jobs reveals Apple was working on an ‘iPhone nano’ at one point

There isn’t an “iPhone nano” in today’s lineup of smartphones from Apple. But apparently there might be an alternative timeline where there is. Because in this one, it turns out Apple was at one point considering making one of these phones, but it wasn’t meant to be for us.

Way back in 2011, when the iPhone 4 was the mainline iPhone, Apple was considering launching a smaller version of the handset and with a cheaper price tag. That’s according to an email discovered as part of documentation shared during the Apple v. Epic Games trial that went on earlier this year, surfaced by The Verge.

That email was sent in October of 2010, which includes an agenda for a strategy meeting planned at the company. A specific bullet point shows “iPhone nano plan,” which also includes sub-bullets for “cost goal” and “Jony” that would “show model (and/or renderings).” This last one tells us that Jony Ive, Apple’s former design chief, had taken the lead on designing the new smartphone and planned to show off what he’d been working on at the time.

A gold iPhone 12 Pro Max laid face down on a wooden table

Interestingly, the email also includes a bullet for “2011 strategy” that has a sub-bullet that reads, “create low cost iPhone model based on iPod touch to replace 3GS.” As noted in the original report, though, there’s no straight indicator that this is the same iPhone nano device that’s hinted at later in the strategy planning, or if this is an entirely different device Apple was considering at the same time.

Apple used to use the “nano” brand quite a bit back in the day. By the time this email was sent, Apple had already released the sixth-generation iPod nano. That device lineup was wildly popular at the time, so if Apple had launched an iPhone nano it probably would have done pretty well for itself, too. Especially if Apple could have reached whatever price point –which would’ve been less than the iPhone 4 at the time– they were striving for.

Super nano

That’s not the only mention of a nano product in discovered emails, though. The original report notes that, back in 2007, Steve Jobs emailed about something called a “Super nano” (via Internal Tech Emails) It was apparently going to be released sometime in the first half of 2008, and appeared to be an upgraded version of the iPod nano. However, actual details on the product that would not actually launch remain unknown.

It would be kind of fun if Apple brought back the “nano” branding, but they seem to enjoy “mini” these days, so we’ll probably never see that make a comeback.