iPhone Nano is real

Few weeks ago we told you about Apple’s patent application that describes possible iPhone Nano.

This patent application caused a lot of hoopla and speculation around the net, with JP Morgan analyst Kevin Chang confirming it’s existence through his sources in supply channel and predicting the launch of iPhone Nano before Christmas. And don’t forget Apple’s patent for iPhone Nano with a touchscreen on the back.

Later JP Morgan said that they were unable to confirm the report through other sources and many news outlets considered it a retraction, deciding that there’s no such thing as iPhone Nano. But it is premature to call second JP Morgan report a retraction. They never said that there’s no iPhone Nano.

And in the latest patent application, filed on January 04, 2007 (just a couple of weeks before the official launch of first iPhone) Apple talks about exactly this kind of cheap and simple device. And clearly states that it is about a new cellphone in the patent application name – “Telephone interface for a Portable Communication Device” (download patent .pdf here, 3MB).


It looks like Apple decided that it does not even need any fancy touchpads or touchscreen at the back. Simple click wheel that you can find on any iPod and some clever software implementation will do.

As you can see from the drawings, the iPhone Nano would look very similar to your current iPod Nano. Probably just a bit longer, will have a bigger screen and a few additional text menu items for phone operation.

Everything else stays the same. Just when you select a phone mode, a rotary dial with numbers and letters appears on the screen. When you place a finger on a click wheel, the relevant number or letter is selected. As you move your finger around, highlight on a dial follows it. Press a finger and it enters the number or character for the names in address book. You can also switch between character entry and edit modes and give other commands by pressing menu, play, fast forward buttons.

With touch sensitive click wheel and some clever software tricks to differentiate between simple click and movement, overall operation of iPhone Nano can be made as intuitive as for any iPod.

And the same goes for SMS text messages:


Just scroll through the relevant letters with the movement of the finger on a clickwheel, use command keys to jump between different trays on the screen, ad some clever predictive text entry algorithms and sending SMS is even easier then on your current cellphone.

There you have it. Cheap and simple iPhone Nano.

Is it real? Yes. I think so.

Apple research department might just be exploring various avenues of phone design. But the whole idea revealed in this patent application looks too good and practical to pass up. The application itself too direct and complete for something to be put into the drawer and forgotten. And the whole trickle of the patent applications pointing in the same direction is too similar to the pattern we’ve seen last year with the original iPhone patents.

Will we see iPhone Nano this year? Probably not. Will it even be called iPhone Nano? I have no idea. What I am sure about now is, that we will see relatively cheap and simple phone/music player designed along the lines described here in 2008, latest.

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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  • sam

    Dude, this design is 1) useless, 2) a hassle, and 3) probably filed just to throw people off the trail of what they are actually planning. See for reference the bezel edge control for widescreen ipods.

  • stace

    Dude, not everyone needs a fancy multi-touch iPhone for $600 :)

    Cellphone that is cheap, simple, small, durable and as easy to operate as my grandma’s rotary dial phone will be perfect for many.

    Navigating a thousand song collection on an MP3 player was also a hassle. But then iPod came along … to the widespread initial disappointment of many Apple fans.

  • Jonathan

    This is definitely not what the next iPhone will look like. Apple doesn’t make products as useless as this. Companies like Apple file hundreds of these patents. There were hundreds of articles like this before the iPhone was released that predicted what the new iPhone was going to look like, and they were all based on patents filed by Apple. None of them were correct.

    This is embarrassing.

  • stace

    You are right that there were hundreds of articles predicting how iPhone will look like and none of them got it right.

    But you are wrong about the patents. There were tons of patents with hints about the iPhone all through 2006.

    And one patent application describing exactly what current iPhone and even next generation iPhones would do and what it will look like (full touchscreen, muilti-touch, separate video iPod, telepone, GPS navigator, internet browsing functionality modes, etc;):

    Multi-functional hand-held device

    And while something may look useless for someone, it may be perfect for others. Just Google for the comments about iPod when it was first announced.

    For me iPhone Nano, designed along the lines described here fall into that category. I am sure that Apple is working on it and I’m willing to go on the record that we’ll see it next year.

    I guess next fall we’ll see who’s right.

  • sdf

    gay not gonna happen

  • Arashiodori

    Looks similar to Nokia's two lipstick phones. Functions similarly, too. Breaking patents now, Apple? tsk tsk.

  • http://rkukonline.ds4a.com/ Ben

    that's the biggest load of rubbish I've seen in my life, it's like the MacBook Wheel, people playing around!

  • http://rkukonline.ds4a.com/ Ben

    that's the biggest load of rubbish I've seen in my life, it's like the MacBook Wheel, people playing around!