Apple has asked tech blog Gizmodo to return what online reports are calling a prototype of the iPhone 4G, which appeared in the wild after supposedly being lost in a bar near San Jose, Calif., Daring Fireball's John Gruber says Apple considers the device stolen. If the device proves authentic, then the next iPhone will include a front-facing video chat camera, a larger back-camera with flash, support for Micro-SIM instead of standard SIM and a higher-resolution display. The iPhone 4G was running Apple's upcoming iPhone OS 4.0, according to Gizmodo's source, before being remotely shut down.
Whether or not the smartphone prototype found in a California bar
to be Apple's next iPhone, a letter between Apple's general counsel and
blog Gizmodo seems to confirm that the device did indeed originate in
"It has come to our attention that Gizmodo is currently in possession
device that belongs to Apple," Bruce Sewell, senior vice president and
counsel for Apple, wrote in an April 19 letter to Brian Lam, Gizmodo's
editorial director, that
posted on the blog
. "This letter constitutes a formal request that
return the device to Apple. Please let me know where to pick up the
According to Gizmodo, the unit in question was discovered at Gourmet
Staudt, a German beer garden north of San Jose. Its alleged owner-at
before he left it on a bar stool-was an
software engineer named Gray Powell.
From there, the device managed to find its way into the hands of
reporters; Nick Denton, who owns Gizmodo parent Gawker Media, appeared
to suggest in
an April 19
that money had been exchanged for what many online reports are
calling the iPhone 4G: "Yes, we're proud practitioners of checkbook
Anything for the story!"
Even as that story developed, there was an assumption among tech
that Gizmodo had paid cash for the device, which was originally hidden
an iPhone 3G casing.
"It's been an open secret to those of us in the racket that Gizmodo
purchased this unit about a week ago, from those who claimed to [have
it," John Gruber wrote on his Apple-centric Daring Fireball blog
on April 17. "That this belongs to and was made by Apple is almost
question at this point. Just how much it looks like what Apple plans to
this summer, I don't know. Note that it's thinner than a 3GS."
Gruber continued: "Note that I did not use the word 'lost.' It is my
understanding that Apple considers this unit stolen, not lost. And as
'someone(s)' who 'found' it, I believe it is disingenuous for Gizmodo to
coy, as though they don't know who the someones are."
According to Gizmodo's
April 19 breakdown
, new features in the iPhone 4G include a
"front-facing video chat camera," a larger "back-camera"
with flash, support for "Micro-SIM instead of standard SIM," a
higher-resolution display, "split buttons for volume" and "what
looks to be a secondary mic for noise cancellation, at the top, next to
The alleged iPhone 4G also has a slightly smaller screen than the
16-percent-larger battery and miniaturized internal components. One
particularly interesting detail is the backing, which is apparently made
material that could be "glass (more likely) or ceramic or shiny
plastic"-all the better to receive a cell signal.
"Tapping on the back makes a more hollow and higher-pitched sound
compared to tapping on the glass on the front/screen," Gizmodo's Jason
Chen wrote, "but that could just be the orientation of components inside
making for a different sound."
The iPhone 4G was supposedly running Apple's upcoming iPhone OS 4.0,
least until it was bricked remotely. Gizmodo said a PC recognizes the
an iPhone when plugged in.
Engadget, meanwhile, has compared images it received of the supposed
4G against those leaked from an Apple test lab earlier in 2010, finding a
match between those images and a blurry device seen in the
For those who would doubt that a prototype device produced by one of
most secretive companies on the planet would somehow find its way onto
beer-soaked floorboards of a random watering hole, well, that currently
to be the case here. And unless this whole incident turns out to be an
attempt at misdirection on Apple's part, that device's escape into the
suggests that a certain Gray Powell could be in a lot of trouble right