Tech site claims Apple software engineer lost new iPhone prototype

The past 24 hours have seen internet forums and blogs filled with heated discussions regarding pictures supposedly showing a prototype version of a new iPhone model.

But not only has a prominent tech blog upped the debate by posting an extensive account of how the device came into its hands, it has also claimed to identify the Apple software engineer responsible for losing the device while having a night out on the town.

Tech site Gizmodo has reported that 27-year old Gary Powell was responsible for losing the new iPhone, which it has named the “iPhone HD” due to its higher-resolution screen. The blog has reported he visited a local German-themed bar on the night of March 18, before leaving the device on a chair and going home.

However, another customer noticed the phone and asked around for its owner with no success. Gizmodo reports that during the time he waited for Powell to return to the bar, he played with the device for a few minutes.

“I thought it was just an iPhone 3GS,” he told the blog. “It just looked like one. I tried the camera, but it crashed three times.” He also noticed the device had several unusual features, including:

  • A completely new physical design, with a thicker body than previous versions. Volume buttons appeared as circles, with the sides in a metallic-type finish.
  • A MicroSIM slot.
  • A front-facing camera
  • A larger back-camera with flash capability.
  • An unusual operating system. (This is most likely the upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 to be released this winter, but this is unconfirmed, as the phone has been remotely wiped of any data).

He also noticed a number of applications, including Facebook. When the customer opened the application to determine the phone’s owner, he noticed Gary Powell’s personal page and noted his details.

It is also understood that at this time, Gizmodo purchased the device for $US5,000 – but it has not confirmed who was paid. This was reported by Gawker Media head Nick Denton, who publishes the Gizmodo blog.

He told the device was bought and that currently, no official communication has been initiated by Apple.

Meanwhile, the site confirmed with Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber, who is understood to have several contacts at Apple, that the tech company did indeed lose a prototype phone and that it was looking to recover the device.

Gizmodo has reported it contacted Powell, and asked him whether he worked at Apple. He responded with “I can’t really talk too much right now”. Upon telling him they had the device and would like to return it, he responded: “Yeah, I forwarded your email… someone should be contacting you.”

However, before Gizmodo contacted Powell to return the device, it engaged in a review-session with a number of photos posted on the blog. It also opened the device and noted its details, and observed a slightly smaller screen, heavier weight and a battery 16% larger than the iPhone 3GS.

However, some have suggested Gizmodo could find itself in some legal trouble. California law dictates that if stolen property is recovered, it must be returned to its owner and it cannot be sold.

It is understood Gizmodo is attempting to get in touch with Apple, but it may be too late. The company is extraordinarily secretive, making such a leak even more disastrous – it depends on secrecy before unveiling huge updates, such as new iPhone or iPod models.

It remains to be seen whether Apple will address the supposed leak, or continue in its tradition of silence on upcoming technology.


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