Apple considered physical keyboard, click-wheel for iPhone

Cupertino considered keyboard and iPod + Phone click-wheel device

In a fascinating interview ex-Apple exec Tony Fadell says Apple seriously considered a physical keyboard and even built an iPod style click-wheel in an early prototype

Apple toyed with the idea of giving the first iPhone a physical keyboard, instead of the full touchscreen that transformed the industry, according to a former Apple executive.

Speaking to The Verge, Nest CEO Tony Fadell, who worked at Apple when concepts were being discussed and prototypes were being build, said the keyboard was a hot subject at Cupertino.

Fadell told the On The Verge web-TV show that, while a BlackBerry-esque prototype was never built, there were camps within Apple for and against a full touchscreen.

He said: "It was definitely discussed, it was a heated topic."

Replying to a question asking whether there were people within the company who were campaigning for the physical keyboard, Fadell said: "Absolutely."

While the former Apple exec says he wasn't exactly in favour of bringing a physical keyboard into play, he was "skeptical" about whether the full touchscreen solution would catch on.

He added: "I didn't know a lot about touch screens and I was skeptical, so I wanted to try it first. I wanted it to work because it made sense to have a big screen and not just a little keyboard."

Fadell also revealed that Apple build three prototypes initially, one of which was a simple extension of the iPod with cellular functionality, called iPod + Phone.

"There were all kinds of different gestations of it. There were three different types of iPhone. There was an iPod + Phone, then there was the iPhone and then there was the next generation iPhone, which was the one that actually showed up.

"The biggest problem with the iPod + Phone was that we had this little wheel… Sometimes you have to try things to throw them away."

The clip is only a preview of the full interview with Fadell, the rest of which will be posted on Monday. If it's anything like the two minute teaser below, we could be in for some more fascinating revelations on the iPhone and more.

Via: The Verge