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iPhone keyboard was a 'heated topic' reveals ex-Apple bod

The decision to go with a fully touchscreen phone was a contentious one, an ex-Apple employee has revealed.

The decision to ditch the common physical keyboard in favour of a full touchscreen was a 'heated topic' within Apple, an ex-employee has revealed.

In an interview with The Verge, former Apple exec Tony Fadell says that initially there were three iPhone prototypes, one of which was an 'iPod plus phone' that had a click wheel like Apple's music boxes of old.

None of the three prototypes featured a BlackBerry-style physical keyboard apparently, but the decision on whether to go touchscreen-only wasn't easily reached, the interview reveals.

"It was definitely discussed," Fadell says. "It was a heated topic."

Fadell says that personally he was sceptical, but "wanted to try" because it, "made sense that you wanted a full screen, you didn't just want a little keyboard".

Post-Apple, Fadell founded Nest, a company that makes a futuristic app-controlled thermostat. I went hands-on earlier this year -- hit this link to take a look.

Apple's decision to opt for a massive touchscreen was a controversial one at the time, with many folks suggesting that a big screen was rather gross, destined to collect face and finger grease.

That proved to be completely true, of course, but the lure of multi-touch scrolling through photos and websites proved so tempting that nobody seemed to mind it getting a bit greasy.

Apple did produce one phone with a physical keyboard... sort of. The Motorola Rockr came with Apple's iTunes software, as well as a host of physical keys.

The iPhone certainly seems to have sent physical keyboards the way of the dodo, with fewer and fewer phones opting to include pushable keys. But is that a good thing? Do you miss the days of rattling off lightning-fast predictive texts on a good ol' fashioned grid of numbers? Let me know in the comments or on our Facebook wall.

Fancy a trip down memory lane? Check out this video review of the first iPhone from 2007.