Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New iPhone prototype found in Redwood City bar

So a tech blogger walks into a bar and finds the next iPhone prototype. Stop me if you’ve heard this one…

Really, Gizmodo may have gotten the severe scoop with a fortuitous discovery of exactly what seems to be a prototype of the next iPhone (iPhone 4G?). A Gizmodo reporter found it in a Redwood City bar. After checking with Apple-connected John Gruber of Daring Fireball, Gizmodo found that Apple had lost a prototype and was “very interested” in getting it back. Whether they were ready to use pay day loans to sic Sherlock Holmes on the case is unclear.

An iPhone prototype that seems to be dressed in 3GS clothing

The plastic case of the iPhone prototype looks like an iPhone 3GS on the surface. There are definite details making this prototype much a lot more different:

  • Front-facing video camera in addition to a back camera with a flash and larger lens
  • Micro-SIM – a lot more secure, more storage, more allowable connections. This would be the first use of this tech in a U.S. cell phone
  • Higher-res display (exact numbers unclear so far)
  • A second microphone port and 2nd volume button
  • Metal buttons
  • A flatter, more squared-off design
  • Higher-powered battery… 5.25 WHr (watt hours) at 3.7V, compared with 4.75 WHr within the iPhone 3GS

New iPhone or red herring?

Gizmodo believes this new iPhone is a real discovery for many reasons. It was running the iPhone 4. operating system before that OS was even announced first of all. Second, the iPhone prototype was remotely killed before Gizmodo could dig any further into the OS. When connected to a Mac OS X system, the device was recognized as an iPhone in both Xcode and iTunes, but no firmware updates were available, which indicated to Gizmodo that this was an unreleased unit. According to Gizmodo, the fact the Mac OS X System Profiler reported it as an iPhone in restore mode is consistent with the phone having been “remotely wiped.”

Under the hood is where you'll find the proof

The components on the inside are Apple-labeled and fit together very well inside the case. If this were 3G or 3GS parts in modified housing, Gizmodo says the parts wouldn’t fit so well. It was designed for that case. Probably because of the metal buttons, the case is thinner but heavier. The design seemed like it was just a little less sleek than most Apple products. It is kind of ugly, like tax debt, and is boxier where iPhones before have had more curves. This could be chalked up to this iPhone being a prototype, however.

What this could mean for consumers

The next-gen iPhone is going to be announced this summer. If the iPhone prototype found by Gizmodo is an indication of the future, people waiting to upgrade might want to take the plunge. A better back camera, a better battery, a second microphone for better voice clarity, and a front video cam addresses some of fans' major concerns. Just sexy up the case a bit and you might just have a deal.

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