Tony Fadell: Apple seriously considered building an iPhone with hardware keyboard

“Tony Fadell, former Apple executive and CEO of Nest, stopped by On The Verge this past Friday and shared some inside details around the iPhone’s creation, including the fact that Apple seriously considered building an iPhone with a hardware keyboard,” Nathan Ingraham reports for The Verge.

Ingraham reports, “We’ve pulled together a quick piece of the interview where Fadell goes into detail on the different iPhone prototypes Apple began testing — if your’e curious to learn more about the early days of Apple’s big moneymaker, check out the clip below. The full episode will be available on Monday, so stay tuned.”

Source: The Verge

MacDailyNews Take: Luckily, Apple put down the bottle and slept it off.

Related articles:
‘Father of the iPod’ Tony Fadell shows off his new project: Thermostats – October 25, 2011
Tony Fadell snips last thread with Apple Inc. – March 30, 2010
Tony Fadell gets $300,000 annual salary as new ‘Special Advisor’ to Apple CEO Steve Jobs – November 5, 2008


  1. I wish Apple had an iPhone with a keyboard. I just bought an iPhone 4s a few months ago and I don’t really like the touch screen as I’m always hitting other buttons on the screen. That said, when I hit precisely the right buttons in the right order, the iPhone works fantastic.

    I’d prefer an iPhone with a blackberry style keyboard and with a touchscreen that slides straight up so you can use the keyboard underneath the screen if you want. Blackberry has one phone like this that I really like but it’s on ATT and I’m on Sprint.

    I’d also prefer a small trackpad and several actual buttons on an iPhone so you can do things like change a song without having to log back into your phone.

    1. Double-tap the home button. This brings up the iPod controls on the lock screen so you don’t have to log-in(?) to your phone to change the song, turn up the volume or initiate air-play. With the dictation feature on the keyboard, you can avoid the keyboard almost entirely for text-heavy purposes. Or possibly a blue-tooth keyboard.

      1. He’s just a BlackBerry holdout. I’ve never longed for or desired a physical keyboard for my iPhone. In fact I think that would be a positive hindrance to productivity because I’d have to deal with the freaking keyboard every single time no matter what app was showing on screen. I like the flexibility of a soft keyboard that disappeared if you didn’t need it, like playing games for example.

        There are slide out keyboards that you can attach to your iPhone. Go that way if you prefer a physical keyboard.

        As for a small trackpad, whatever for? You can touch anywhere on the screen to perform all menu driven tasks on the iPhone.

    1. I don’t. After all, Apple had the iPod w/phone team competing with the iPhone touchscreen team to see who could develop the best model. Fortunately dialing a number on the iPod click wheel was just too unbearably difficult.

      I’m sure Apple seriously considered a physical keyboard. There are pros and cons, and fortunately Apple decided the cons outweighed the pros.

      But if you don’t consider and really explore the options, you can’t truly eliminate them or make the competing idea better. It may be that we have the iPhone’s autocorrect directly because of the lack of tactile feedback so one can easily tap an adjacent key. Besides, without autocorrect we wouldn’t have all those great mis-corrected texts to laugh at.

  2. “Some heated discussions” without ever building a single prototype is not the same thing as “seriously considered.” The article and headline are a little misleading.

    1. No, there could have been an ongoing serious and heated discussion for months over a physical keyboard. Apple wouldn’t have to build a prototype, it could simply try doing certain tasks (as much as possible) on a physical keyboard phone (like a Blackberry) and then on a touchscreen prototype. Maybe Apple hacked a Blackberry to load a basic iOS?

  3. Why’s this news? Whether Apple considered a keyboard or not is irrelevant to the iPhone’s amazing success story.

    On a practical level, my fingers are too wide for the Touch’s keyboard in portrait mode. Here’s hoping all apps implement a landscape option for touch screen entry – perhaps IOS 6?

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