This is the iPod-inspired iPhone interface that could have been

We're rapidly coming up on the tenth anniversary of the original iPhone, the phone that completely changed the mobile landscape in 2007 - physical keyboards were out, touchscreens were in, and now everyone sells iPhone-style handsets.

However, the look of the iPhone could've been very different based on new mock-up images posted by Apple insider Sonny Dickson. They show an on-screen clickwheel taking up the lower half of the screen, with an 'Acorn OS' interface on top.

Don't forget that the iPod was a revolutionary product long before the iPhone came along, and the audio player's success was largely down to that intuitive clickwheel that made browsing through thousands of songs a breeze. It would seem the same look was under serious consideration for Apple's first smartphone.

It's not clear whether the iPhone clickwheel would've been a software one, as shown here - Apple may have been planning to use a physical wheel, as on the iPod, when it came to actually manufacturing units.

"Not much else is known about the device, apart from the fact that it differs heavily from the iPhone we know today, and that very few units running 'Acorn OS' exist, with most of them likely being destroyed by Apple, a company in which there is a specific job role in relation to the destruction of prototypes," writes Dickson.

He points to an old patent filed in 2006 as evidence of the prototype's authenticity. While most would say Apple made the right choice with the full-screen OS that it eventually went with, it's interesting to see the different ideas that were being explored at the time the very first iPhone went on sale.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.