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An iPhone just sold for a crazy amount at auction

An original, unsealed iPhone.
An original, still-boxed iPhone. LCG Auctions

Rare iPhones have been going under the hammer for some large sums in recent months, and the latest auction to feature one of the first Apple handsets has just smashed the record for such a device.

Still sealed inside its original packaging, the handset was estimated to go for between $50,000 and $100,000, but the final bid came in at an eye-watering $158,644 (or $190,372 if you include the buyer’s premium of $31,728, which goes directly to the auction house). That’s around $95,000 more than the previous record bid for a first-generation iPhone, which sold at auction in February.

So, why so much interest in this particular iPhone?

Well, according to Los Angeles-based LCG Auctions, which organized the sale, the lot is particularly rare as it’s a 4GB model (that’s storage, not RAM!), a variant that Apple ditched just two months after launch in 2007 due to poor sales, leaving customers with the much more popular 8GB option.

“Our offering is an exceedingly rare, factory sealed, first-release 4GB model in exceptional condition,” LCG Auctions said on its website. “Virtually flawless along the surface and edges, the factory seal is clean with correct seam details and tightness. Labels on the reverse are correctly pristine beneath the seal. Outstanding color and gloss. Brand new, never activated.”

The listing continued: “The phone’s provenance is pristine as the consignor was part of the original engineering team at Apple when the iPhone first launched. Collectors and investors would be hard-pressed to find a superior example. Relevance and rarity comprise a winning formula for this red-hot collectible.”

The buyer’s identity has been kept secret, so we may never know what they do with it. While it may be tempting to tear open the box to hold in the hand a piece of history, doing so will destroy its resale value — if the buyer bought it as an investment, that is.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs unveiled the trailblazing iPhone at MacWorld San Francisco in January 2007. The smartphone, with its tiny 3.5-inch display and basic 2-megapixel camera, went on sale in June of the same year for $499 (4GB) and $599 (8GB).

The device kickstarted the smartphone market and turned Apple into one of the most successful tech companies ever. Sixteen years later, Apple is preparing the launch of the latest iteration of its popular handset, the iPhone 15. And while it’s guaranteed to be very expensive, it won’t cost quite as much as the one that sold at auction on Sunday.

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Trevor Mogg
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