Apple made various design changes to the now-defunct iPod nano over the years, and a new image reveals several mockups that never made it to production. The iPod nano was meant to be the smallest iPod with a screen. Apple made various design changes to the now-defunct lineup over the years, with the first-generation device looking quite different from later models.
Apple unveiled the first iPod nano in 2005 as a lighter and more portable version of the already small iPod mini. Its compact design underwent multiple dramatic overhauls throughout the lineup’s seven-generation lifespan, from the third-generation’s pint-sized frame to the sixth-generation’s square touchscreen interface, to name a few. But it appears Apple had several other design concepts up its sleeve.
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Tony Fadell, the iPod’s inventor, revealed a few unseen mockup designs of the iPod nano in a tweet. Fadell explained that the team “explored every possibility” in coming up with the final design. This included making its display more elongated, increasing the length of its frame, and even considering an all-screen design that omitted buttons altogether. The iPod designer pointed out that the models in the images were only “3D printed dummies,” suggesting that the iPod nano concepts never had any functioning prototypes. However, the concept designs were described as something that “made the project real.”
These are various mockups of the iPod Nano, we explored every possibility – what if the screen was this big? What if the wheel was that big? What if there was no wheel? #BUILD #BUILDtreasurechest #Buildbook will be officially released tmrw May 3rd! https://t.co/NKMxGjoEgg pic.twitter.com/XMUHztyj2E
— Tony Fadell (@tfadell) May 2, 2022
How Different Were The iPod Nano Dummies?
Sure, there had been some peculiar iPod variants over the years, but just how close or far were the iPod nano dummies compared to the actual products released? Upon closer inspection, it seems like certain aspects such as internal specs were quite far-off. For instance, the concept images reveal devices with storage sizes ranging from 10GB to 20GB, which would have significantly increased the storage. In reality, though, Apple offered 16GB as the highest storage variant on the iPod nano.
While Apple implemented some of the dummy designs for the iPod nano, other concepts were never realized throughout the lineup’s existence. None of the iPod nano iterations featured the first concept product’s awkward design, which features a small display, paired with a physical wheel button right below it, leaving the bottom half empty as a sort of hand-grip area.
The last model in the image adopted a longer display with a small click wheel, which Apple might have decided to replace with a button, as seen on the seventh-generation iPod nano. Perhaps the most radical design however is the all-screen, button-less iPod nano, which shows that Apple considered this form factor at least a decade before it was implemented on the iPhone X in 2018. Regardless, the dummies served as building blocks for the iPod nano range, the same way the iPod eventually laid the foundation for the iPhone.