Apple employee Gray Powell, believed to have left a prototype of the new iPhone in a bar
It has happened to most of us at some point: you arrive home after a night out and can’t remember what on earth you did with your phone. But – unluckily for this man – a mobile left behind on a bar stool at a German beer garden in Redwood City, California, has set alarm bells ringing with an intrigue worthy of the Cold War.
For a website is claiming that the forgotten phone wasn’t just any old mobile. Gadget blog Gizmodo says it was a secret prototype of the next generation of the iPhone.
And if so, Apple employee Gray Powell has just made his 27th birthday unforgettable.
According to media reports in the U.S., Apple employee Gray Powell apparently left the iPhone behind after celebrating his 27th birthday at the Gourmet Haus Staudt bar, not far from the computer giant’s Cupertino, California headquarters.
The mobile which was left behind on a bar stool by an Apple employee at a German beer garden in California
Gizmodo said the person who found the phone claimed it was logged into Powell’s Facebook account and the last post on the social networking site was said to be: ‘I underestimated how good German beer is.’
After trying unsuccessfully to return the iPhone to its owner, the finder sold it to a ‘mysterious middleman’ who then sold it to the website for $5,000 (£3,250), Gizmodo editorial director Brian Lam said.
Mr Lam said the phone was shut down remotely by Apple, adding to suspicions that the phone held secrets the company didn’t want exposed.
Already a T-shirt marking Gray Powell’s error is on sale
Since posting pictures of the device online, the website, little known outside the hi-tech industry, has had more than three million hits in just 12 hours.
And it has triggered a guessing game over whether the new iPhone is genuine, how it got into the hands of the website and what sort of punishment the highly secretive Apple bosses might mete out to the software engineer apparently responsible for losing it.
Gizmodo have published the letter they say they received from Apple asking for the prototype device back
Photographs posted of the device show a more angular model than the traditional iPhone with square corners and aluminum edges. Technical experts claim the case – similar to the older iPhone 3GS – was perfect camouflage for a prototype.
‘This may not be the final design for the next iPhone, but the fact that they built a fake case to make it look like the earlier iPhone, that says a lot,’ Brian Tong, editor for Cnet tech site, told ABC News.
The phone had a camera with a flash on the back with a bigger lens than the existing iPhone for better photo quality.
The front also sported a camera, which could indicate a video- conferencing capability for future models. On top of the device was a second microphone, possibly for noise cancellation.
The massive online interest in the prototype mystery prompted speculation that the whole thing may have been a marketing ploy to set up the launch of a new iPhone.
Apple’s initial silence over the find only fed the suspicions. But last night, Gizmodo said it finally heard from the company’s lawyers.
‘It has come to our attention that Gizmodo is in possession of a device that belongs to Apple,’ wrote Apple’s senior counsel.
‘This letter constitutes a formal request that you return the device the Apple. Please let me know where to pick up the unit.’
Mr Lam said the mobile was returned to Apple with a note saying: ‘I hope you take it easy on the kid who lost it. I don’t think he loves anything more than Apple.’
Under Californian law Gizmodo could be charged with received stolen goods.
While the outer packaging of the phone was rather rough and ready, Gizmodo have insisted that the hardware is anything but.
The screen has an improved display with a higher resolution so that individual pixels are not discernible.
The phone measures 4.5″x2.31″x0.37″ and weighs 140 grams. The 3GS weighs 135 grams.
The battery 5.25 WHr at 3.7V, compared to the 3GS battery, which is 4.51 WHr at 3.7V.
On the back of the phone, it said it was XX GB, but Gizmodo were unable to see how large the memory was as they believe Apple had killed the phone’s 4.0 operating system after it went missing.
The iPhone 4G is expected to hit stores worldwide in June, according to the latest blog speculation and will be on the Verizon network in the US.
This was given some credence by the CEO of Canadian carrier SaskTel, who said in an interview: ‘The good news is that (Apple) is coming out with a new version of the iPhone in the June timeframe and they’re going to put us on that. So we’re quite excited about that.’
Another tantalising piece of evidence that the iPhone 4G is nearing release is the new 4.0 operating system, announced last week, which would incorporate features such as multi-tasking into the current iPhone 3GS model.
Last week Apple announced the UK launch of the long-awaited iPad with Wi-Fi would be delayed by a month as demand had outstripped supply in the US.
However the US will receive the iPad 3G version on April 30.
Via Daily Mail