We've heard rumors claim that Apple has tested models of the iPhone with a physical QWERTY keyboard bolted on, but now a former executive for the Cupertino firm has confirmed that such a handset was indeed considered before the original, touch-only iPhone debuted. Tony Fadell, who worked on 18 generations of the iPod as well as the iPhone line up until the 3GS, recently revealed to The Verge that Apple considered implementing a hardware keyboard on the original iPhone. He explained that he knew the possibilites offered by a virtual keyboard, though, and wanted to try one out before adopting a physical QWERTY. Fadell added that there were a few different iPhone variations in testing, including an "iPod + Phone" model, a second mysterious version and then the full-touch device that actually arrived in 2007.
Hardware keyboards were popular on smartphones using Windows Mobile or the BlackBerry OS at the time of the original iPhone's introduction, so it's not a total shock to hear that Apple considered adding one to its handset. However, Steve Jobs discussed how he didn't care for physical keyboards during the iPhone event in 2007, explaining that they can't be changed for specific applications or new ideas that may come in the future. It's still interesting to think how the iPhone and the smartphone market in general might look today if the first iPhone did indeed have a keyboard, though. What do you folks make of Fadell's statements? Do you think an iPhone with a physical keyboard is something you'd be interested in?
Via The Verge