A Vietnamese forum has been able to obtain a solid, production-ready iPhone 4G, almost one month after Gizmodo paid $5,000 for exclusive rights to review
an almost identical prototype unit, getting itself into trouble
for doing so. Taoviet.vn posted pictures of the device (two of them are available for your viewing pleasure in this report), and even teardown imagery showing an Apple-branded chip housed within the metal and sapphire enclosure.
Apple seems to be having a lot of trouble holding on to prototype iPhone 4 units, this being the second such leak in less than a month. The Mac maker, known for its excessive secrecy, has chosen the worst possible timing to loosen up.
Engadget picked up
on the story fast, and posted a couple of updates in the meanwhile, complete with imagery. The genuine-looking pictures prove that Taoviet.vn is, indeed, in the possession of the real thing.
A few differences are immediately observable between the prototype iPhone 4 reviewed by Gizmodo weeks ago, and the unit shown in these images. One of them is the 16GB reference (suggesting Apple will start at 16GB with these babies, just like with the iPad). The back of Gizmodo’s device said XXGB.
Similarities between the two devices can also be seen here, such as the rest of the XXX placeholders on the backside stamp. Another notable difference, however, is a missing pair of screws at the bottom of the device. In an obvious manner, Apple has moved to phase out unnecessary hardware as the phone comes closer to mass production. If anyone hates visible screws on their products, it’s Apple.
Engadget itself points out to the clean design saying, “[It] could indicate a newer prototype (closer to the actual retail model),” although, the site adds, “both the iPhone 3G and 3GS went to market with a similar pair of screws.” Adding insult to injury, a second update to the report contains teardown pictures showing an Apple-branded processor (a second, rather predictable find).
Finally, one of the first sources to spot the leak cites
other (unnamed) sources as saying that (translated from Vietnamese), “Some machines are being offered for sale for about $ 4,000 in the U.S. black market.” If it is true that there are multiple prototype iPhone 4G units floating around, this makes the situation all the more ridiculous for Apple. Stay close for the (inevitable) new findings the device teardown is likely to produce. Don’t forget to drop us a line with your thoughts on this unexpected turn of events.Update #1:
This report has been updated to correct a reference to Gizmodo where Softpedia had actually included a citation from tech-ste Engadget.Update #2
: More imagery, and a video of the device in action can be seen in this followup report