This early Apple Watch prototype looks more like an iPod than a smartwatch

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,905   +760
Staff member
In a nutshell: An Apple leaker has posted some pictures and video online of what is purportedly an early prototype of the Apple Watch. Its bulky black plastic casing is not something that one would find stylish to wear, but it is really only a security precaution that Apple used to keep the physical design of the watch a secret.

A few months ago, Twitter user Apple Demo posted images of what was claimed to be an early Apple Watch prototype. On Monday, Apple Demo showed the test model in action in a YouTube video (top).

The prototype Apple watch looks more like an iPod Nano than what we see today. However, its appearance is just a disguise used to keep the final design secret. Rather than the digital crown we are familiar with, the black casing features a Home button on its face, two other buttons on the left-hand side, and a flush power button on the right edge.

Video shows the cardboard shipping carton Apple uses to send out prototypes for testing. The box sports a disclaimer stating that the product is "classified as Apple Confidential" in the company's "Ultra security program." Much of the notice is blocked out to protect the device's origin and recipient but is indicative of Apple's long-running secrecy when it comes to unreleased products.

The prototype reportedly runs on an operating system that pre-dates watchOS 1.0. When powered on, the watch goes through the typical Apple logo splash screen before displaying an analog face similar to the circular "Utility" face we see on current models.

Going to the app screen shows the familiar hexagonal layout we are used to and most of the pre-installed software that ships with current models. However, there are a few apps that appear to be for internal use and testing purposes. The Settings menu also seems about the same. There is, however, a disclaimer in Settings noting that the FCC has not yet approved the device.

If the it is legit, which there does not appear to be any reason to think that it is not, it provides a fascinating look into the pains that Apple goes through to keep its final products secret to even its testers.

Permalink to story.