New iPhone prototype found in Redwood City bar

A Mac desktop rendition of the iPhone 3GS home screen. The iPhone prototype discovered in a Redwood City bar was much smaller.

No, the new iPhone prototype isn't this big. But Gizmodo says it has features that should please the fans. (Photo: Flickr)

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

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

An iPhone prototype in 3GS clothing

On the surface, the plastic case of the iPhone prototype looks more or less like an iPhone 3GS. However, there are numerous details that make this new iPhone something quite different:

  • Front-facing video camera in addition to a back camera with a flash and larger lens
  • Micro-SIM – 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 second 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 in the iPhone 3GS

New iPhone or red herring?

Gizmodo believes this new iPhone is a real discovery for a number of reasons. First of all, it was running the iPhone 4.0 operating system before that OS was even announced. 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 that the Mac OS X System Profiler reported it as an iPhone in restore mode is consistent with the phone having been “remotely wiped.”

The proof is under the hood

The internal components are Apple-labeled and fit together well inside the case. If this were 3G or 3GS parts in some modified housing, Gizmodo claims the parts wouldn’t fit so well. Thus, they feel it was designed for that case. Speaking of the case, it’s thinner than the 3GS, but slightly heavier (perhaps because of the metal buttons). However, the design appeared to be somewhat less sleek than consumers are used to with Apple products. It’s boxier and kind of ugly (like tax debt), whereas previous iPhones have had more curves. This could be chalked up to this iPhone being a prototype, however.

What this could mean for consumers

This summer, the next-gen iPhone is going to be announced. If the iPhone prototype discovered by Gizmodo is any indication, people waiting to upgrade may want to take the plunge. Front video cam, a better back camera, better battery and a second microphone for better voice clarity address some of fans’ major concerns. Sexy up the case and Apple may just have a deal.

(Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mwilkie/ / CC BY-SA 2.0)

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