How Apple Lost the Next iPhone Please Register or Log in to view images How Apple Lost the Next iPhone.The Gourmet Haus Staudt. A nice place to enjoy good German ales. And if you are an Apple Software Engineer named Gray Powell, it's also a nice place to make the honest mistake of losing the next-generation iPhone. UPDATED Please Register or Log in to view images How Apple Lost the Next iPhoneGray Powell—a North Carolina State University 2006 graduate and talented amateur photographer—is an Apple Software Engineer working on the iPhone Baseband Software, the little program that enables the iPhone to make calls. A dream job for a talented engineer like Powell, an Apple fan who always wanted to meet Steve Jobs. On the night of March 18, he was enjoying the fine imported ales at Gourmet Haus Staudt, a nice German beer garden in Redwood City, California. He was happy. [UPDATED] After all, it was his birthday. He was turning 27 that very same day, and he was celebrating. The place was great. The beer was excellent. "I underestimated how good German beer is," he typed into the next-generation iPhone he was testing on the field, cleverly disguised as an iPhone 3GS. It was his last Facebook update from the secret iPhone. It was the last time he ever saw the iPhone, right before he abandoned it on bar stool, leaving to go home. Please Register or Log in to view images How Apple Lost the Next iPhone It a simple, honest mistake in the middle of celebration. Something that anyone, from Steve Jobs to Jonathan Ive, could have done. Knowing how ferocious and ruthless Apple is about product leaks, those beers may have turned out to be the bitterest of his life. (Almost) Impenetrable Security Until now, Apple's legendary security has always worked perfectly. Perhaps there was a blurry factory photo here, or some last-minute information strategically whispered to some friendly media there. But when it comes to the big stuff, everything is airtight. At their Cupertino campus, any gadget or computer that is worth protecting is behind armored doors, with security locks with codes that change every few minutes. Prototypes are bolted to desks. Hidden in these labs, hardware, software and industrial-design elves toil separately on the same devices, without really having the complete picture of the final product. And hidden in every corner, the Apple secret police, a team of people with a single mission: To make sure nobody speaks. And if there's a leak, hunt down the traitor, and escort him out of the building. Using lockdowns and other fear tactics, these men in black are the last line of defense against any sneaky eyes. The Gran Jefe Steve trusts them to avoid Apple's worst nightmare: The leak of a strategic product that could cost them millions of dollars in free marketing promotion. One that would make them lose control of the product news cycle. But the fact is that there's no perfect security. Not when humans are involved. Humans that can lose things. You know, like the next generation iPhone. Lost and Found Apple security's mighty walls fell on the midnight of Thursday, March 18. At that time, Powell was at Gourmet Haus Staudt, just 20 miles from the company's Infinite Loop headquarters, having his fun. Around him, other groups of people were sharing the jolly atmosphere, and plenty of the golden liquid. How Apple Lost the Next iPhoneThe person who eventually ended up with the lost iPhone was sitting next to Powell. He was drinking with a friend too. He noticed Powell on the stool next to him but didn't think twice about him at the time. Not until Powell had already left the bar, and a random really drunk guy—who'd been sitting on the other side of Powell—returned from the bathroom to his own stool. The Random Really Drunk Guy pointed at the iPhone sitting on the stool, the precious prototype left by the young Apple engineer. "Hey man, is that your iPhone?" asked Random Really Drunk Guy. "Hmmm, what?" replied the person who ended up with the iPhone. "No, no, it isn't mine." "Ooooh, I guess it's your friend's then," referring to a friend who at the time was in the bathroom. "Here, take it," said the Random Really Drunk Guy, handing it to him. "You don't want to lose it." After that, the Random Really Drunk Guy also left the bar. The person who ended up with the iPhone asked around, but nobody claimed it. He thought about that young guy sitting next to him, so he and his friend stayed there for some time, waiting. Powell never came back. During that time, he played with it. It seemed like a normal iPhone. "I thought it was just an iPhone 3GS," he told me in a telephone interview. "It just looked like one. I tried the camera, but it crashed three times." The iPhone didn't seem to have any special features, just two bar codes stuck on its back: 8800601pex1 and N90_DVT_GE4X_0493. Next to the volume keys there was another sticker: iPhone SWE-L200221. Apart from that, just six pages of applications. One of them was Facebook. And there, on the Facebook screen, was the Apple engineer, Gray Powell. Please Register or Log in to view images How Apple Lost the Next iPhone Thinking about returning the phone the next day, he left. When he woke up after the hazy night, the phone was dead. Bricked remotely, through MobileMe, the service Apple provides to track and wipe out lost iPhones. It was only then that he realized that there was something strange that iPhone. The exterior didn't feel right and there was a camera on the front. After tinkering with it, he managed to open the fake 3GS. There it was, a shiny thing, completely different from everything that came before. He reached for a phone and called a lot of Apple numbers and tried to find someone who was at least willing to transfer his call to the right person, but no luck. No one took him seriously and all he got for his troubles was a ticket number. He thought that eventually the ticket would move up high enough and that he would receive a call back, but his phone never rang. What should he be expected to do then? Walk into an Apple store and give the shiny, new device to a 20-year-old who might just end up selling it on eBay? The Aftermath Weeks later, Gizmodo got it. It was the real thing. Once we saw it inside and out, there was no doubt about it. We learnt about this story, but we didn't know for sure it was Powell's phone until today, when we contacted him via his phone. He sounded tired and broken. But at least he's alive, and apparently may still be working at Apple—as he should be. After all, it's just a f***ing iPhone and mistakes can happen to everyone—Gray Powell, Phil Schiller, you, me, and Steve Jobs. The only real mistake would be to fire Gray in the name of Apple's legendary impenetrable security, breached by the power of German beer and one single human error. ------------------double post merged------------------Please Register or Log in to view images Please Register or Log in to view images Please Register or Log in to view images Please Register or Log in to view images Please Register or Log in to view images Please Register or Log in to view images You are looking at Apple's next iPhone. It was found lost in a bar in Redwood City, camouflaged to look like an iPhone 3GS. We got it. We disassembled it. It's the real thing, and here are all the details. While Apple may tinker with the final packaging and design of the final phone, it's clear that the features in this lost-and-found next-generation iPhone are drastically new and drastically different from what came before. Here's the detailed list of our findings: What's new • Front-facing video chat camera • Improved regular back-camera (the lens is quite noticeably larger than the iPhone 3GS) • Camera flash • Micro-SIM instead of standard SIM (like the iPad) • Improved display. It's unclear if it's the 960x640 display thrown around before—it certainly looks like it, with the "Connect to iTunes" screen displaying much higher resolution than on a 3GS. • What looks to be a secondary mic for noise cancellation, at the top, next to the headphone jack • Split buttons for volume • Power, mute, and volume buttons are all metallic What's changed • The back is entirely flat, made of either glass (more likely) or ceramic or shiny plastic in order for the cell signal to poke through. Tapping on the back makes a more hollow and higher pitched sound compared to tapping on the glass on the front/screen, but that could just be the orientation of components inside making for a different sound • An aluminum border going completely around the outside • Slightly smaller screen than the 3GS (but seemingly higher resolution) • Everything is more squared off • 3 grams heavier • 16% Larger battery • Internals components are shrunken, miniaturized and reduced to make room for the larger battery This Is Apple's Next iPhone How it was lost Here is a detailed account of how the phone was lost. Why we think it's definitely real We're as skeptical—if not more—than all of you. We get false tips all the time. But after playing with it for about a week—the overall quality feels exactly like a finished final Apple phone—and disassembling this unit, there is so much evidence stacked in its favor, that there's very little possibility that it's a fake. In fact, the possibility is almost none. Imagine someone having to use Apple components to design a functioning phone, from scratch, and then disseminating it to people around the world. Pretty much impossible. Here are the reasons, one by one. It has been reported lost Apple-connected John Gruber—from Daring Fireball—says that Apple has indeed lost a prototype iPhone and they want it back: So I called around, and I now believe this is an actual unit from Apple — a unit Apple is very interested in getting back. Obviously someone found it, and here it is. The screen While we couldn't get it past the connect to iTunes screen for the reasons listed earlier, the USB cable on that screen was so high quality that it was impossible to discern individual pixels. We can't tell you the exact resolution of this next-generation iPhone, but it's much higher than the current iPhone 3GS. The operating system According to the person who found it, this iPhone was running iPhone OS 4.0 before the iPhone 4.0 announcement. The person was able to play with it and see the iPhone 4.0 features. Then, Apple remotely killed the phone before we got access to it. We were unable to restore because each firmware is device specific—3GS firmware only loads on 3GS devices—and the there are no firmwares available for this unreleased phone. Which is another clue to its authenticity. It is recognized as an iPhone This iPhone behaves exactly like an iPhone does when connected to a computer, with the proper boot sequence and "connect to iTunes" restore functionality. Xcode and iTunes both see this as an iPhone. Mac OS X's System Profiler also reports this as an iPhone in restore mode, which is a natural consequence of remotely wiping the phone, but report different product identifiers (both CPID and CPRV) than either the 3G or the 3GS. It uses micro-sim The fact that it uses a micro-sim is a clear indicator that this is a next-generation iPhone. No other cellphone uses this standard at this point in the US. This Is Apple's Next iPhoneThe camouflage case The case it came inside was a fully developed plastic case to house this phone to disguise it like a 3GS. This wasn't just a normal case; it had all the proper new holes cut out for the new switches and ports and camera holes and camera flash. But it looks like something from Belkin or Case-Mate. It's a perfect disguise. The fact that it's in the wild right now Logic can also narrow down why this phone is this year's iPhone, rather than next year's model or one from the previous year's, just because it was found in the wild right now. It makes no sense for Apple to be testing 2011's model right now, in super finished form—they wouldn't be nearly finished with it. The phone also can't be last year's test model, because last year's model (based on the iPhone 3GS teardowns) components were way different. No micro-sim, much bigger logic board, no flash, no front camera, smaller battery and an inferior camera. That only leaves the 2010 model. This Is Apple's Next iPhoneThe guts, the definitive proof And finally, when we opened it up, we saw multiple components that were clearly labeled APPLE. And, because the components were fit extremely well and extremely conformed inside the case (obvious that it was designed FOR this case), it was evident that it was not just a 3G or a 3GS transplanted into another body. That probably wouldn't even be possible, with the size constraints of the thinner device and larger battery. This Is Apple's Next iPhone The New Industrial Design At first sight, this new iPhone's industrial design seems so different from the previous two generations that it could be discarded as just a provisional case. Even while the finish is so perfect that it feels right out of the factory, some of the design language elements that are common to all Apple products are not there. Gone is the flushed screen glass against the metal rim. Gone is the single volume button, replaced by two separate ones. Gone is the seamless rim, and gone are the tapered, curved surfaces. Despite that, however, this design is not a departure. Not when you frame it with the rest of the Apple product line. It's all the contrary: This new iPhone gets back to the simplicity of the iMac and the iPad. In fact, you can argue that the current iPhone 3GS—with its shiny chrome rim and excessively curved back—is out of place compared to the hard edges and Dieter-Ramish utilitarianism of the iMac and the iPad. Next to the iPad, for example, the new iPhone makes sense. It has the same feeling, the same functional simplicity. But why the black plastic back, instead of going with an unibody aluminum design? Why the two audio volume buttons? Why the seams? And why doesn't the back have any curvature at all? This Is Apple's Next iPhone Why the plastic back? The plastic back is the most obvious of the design choices. The iPad, with its all aluminum back, has seen its Wi-Fi reception radius reduced. The 3G version comes with a large patch on the top, probably big enough to provide with good reception. But the new tiny iPhone doesn't have the luxury of space: It needs to provide as much signal as possible using a very small surface. I'm sure Jon Ive is dying to get rid of the plastic back, and go iPad-style all the way, but the wireless reception is the most important thing in a cellphone. A necessary aesthetical-functional trade-off. Why separate volume buttons? This new iPhone uses separate buttons for the volume instead of the single button that you can find in the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. It's one of the factors that may indicate that this is a provisional case, until you think about one of the most requested features for Apple's phone: A physical button for the camera. The new iPhone has a bigger sensor and a flash, which means that the camera function keeps gaining more weight. It's only logical to think that Apple may have implemented this two-button approach to provide with a physical shutter button. It makes sense. Why the seams? The seams are perhaps the most surprising aspect of the new design. They don't seem to respond to any aesthetic criteria and, in terms of function, we can't adventure any explanation. But they don't look bad. In fact, the whole effect seems good, like something you will find in a Braun product from the 70s. It's doubtful that the seams are arbitrary, however. Either they will disappear from the final product, or they have a function we can't foresee at this time. Why no tapering or curves? As you will see in a future article, the new iPhone is so miniaturized and packed that there's no room for the tapered, curved surfaces. Everything is as tight as it could get, with no space for anything but electronics. The hardware specs The phone measures 4.50 by 2.31 by 0.37 inches. It weighs 140 grams. The 3GS weighs 137 grams on a postal scale (and 135 on Apple's official measurements). So, in comparison, it's 3 grams heavier. The battery is 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 since we were unable to get the phone to a running state, we couldn't see exactly how large it was. This Is Apple's Next iPhone How it feels Freaking amazing. As a person who never really liked the round mound of a back in the 3GS, the sleeker, flatter, squarer design is super welcome. It feels sturdier than the 3GS, and much less plasticky. The metal buttons give it a heftier feel—less of a toy—than all previous generations. The closest analog to it would be the original iPhone, which is more square and heavy than its newer brothers. It feels completely natural up to your face, and the fact that both the front and the back are glossy makes no difference on how well you can hold it without the phone slipping. And because it's thinner, it feels even nicer in your pants. This Is Apple's Next iPhone What all this means Apple has updated the exterior drastically different from the 3G and 3GS. That design is old, it felt out of place compared to the rest of their products and needed desperately to be killed. Now you have a thinner body, a much more pleasant form factor with no wasted space and lots of hard lines. But the design isn't the most important part that's changed. They've delivered many of the features people have been waiting for—that damn front camera!—while at the same time upgrading everything else. Flash, better back camera, better battery life and another microphone for better voice clarity. People who bought the 3G two years ago and are now in the perfect position to upgrade and get a dramatically different, and better, phone. If confirmed this summer, and if it performs as we expect, this next-generation iPhone looks like a winner. Much additional reporting and design analysis by Jesus Diaz. Rosa Golijan also contributed. If you want to link to this article, here's a YouTube video you can use to illustrate your post: This Is Apple's Next iPhone For iPhone OS 4 coverage: the hidden secret features, our hands on video, describing (and showing) how it is, and the best features overall. And for more next-gen iPhone coverage: the rumored announcement date, AT&T blocking vacation days for iPhone launch and video and group chat code in the OS. Camera gear and lenses courtesy Borrowlenses. Check them out if you need camera supplies but don't want to own it forever. Any media who wishes to get in contact with us should email email@example.com A Letter: Apple Wants Its Secret iPhone Back A Letter: Apple Wants Its Secret iPhone BackWell, how can I explain this? I got some interesting calls today. It was Apple. And they wanted their phone back. This phone was lost, and then found. But from Apple's perspective, it could have been considered stolen. I told them, all they have to do to get it back is to claim it—on record. This formal request from Apple's legal department is that claim. It proves—if there was any doubt in your mind—that this thing is real. Here's my reply: Bruce, thanks. Here's Jason Chen, who has the iPhone. And here's his address. You two should coordinate a time. [Blah Blah Blah Address] Happy to have you pick this thing up. Was burning a hole in our pockets. Just so you know, we didn't know this was stolen [as they might have claimed. meaning, real and truly from Apple. It was found, and to be of unproven origin] when we bought it. Now that we definitely know it's not some knockoff, and it really is Apple's, I'm happy to see it returned to its rightful owner. P.S. I hope you take it easy on the kid who lost it. I don't think he loves anything more than Apple. And since this was the only missing piece of the puzzle, we have now both extinguished any doubts of its origin but also, we get to give the phone back. *warm, fuzzy, huggy feelings of legal compliance* (Our legal team told us that in California the law states, "If it is lost, the owner has three years to reclaim or title passes to the owner of the premises where the property was found. The person who found it had the duty to report it." Which, actually, the guys who found it tried to do, but were pretty much ignored by Apple. ) I'm sad to see it go. We reasoned this pretty little piece of hardware is probably something we'll see again some time soon, but who knows exactly when. For some of us, that date can't come soon enough.