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Leaked iPhone Could be Close to Final Production Unit

After all the discussion, after all the skepticism, it now looks like the images we have of the infamous leaked iPhone are more than just a prototype, they are an early production model, and this will be the look of the next generation of iPhones.

It is almost like a political thriller. One lone reporter is approached in the dead of night with an offer to sell a highly secretive prototype device. Cash is exchanged, the thief disappears into the night, and the lawyers all begin to crack their knuckles and prepare for a legal smackdown. But that wasn’t the case, and the almost anticlimactic return of the now infamous leaked iPhone raised just as many questions as it answered.

We knew there was a new 4th generation of iPhone coming soon. It was announced in January, but beyond the typically tight lipped Apple tantalized us with slogans more than details. We knew that it would likely be called the iPhone HD or iPhone 4G, we knew that it would have a front facing camera and we knew that the official announcement would be June 22nd. We were all hunting for details, and we were all prepared to wait to hear more from Apple.

And then the iPhone was leaked. If you read tech sites, you probably know that every possible analysis that could be made of the phone has been made. After Gizmodo received the phone, they disassembled it, analyzed it, measured in and probably even tried to taste it just to see if they could. They had the phone for a month before releasing the report, and when it hit, the reaction was equal parts wonder, curiosity and skepticism.

At first it reeked of a fake. The phone looked odd, but more importantly so was Apple’s reaction- or lack thereof. When we first heard that a missing prototype iPhone was found and had been disassembled, we assumed that a true iPhone would never have gotten out of the Apple compound. Their security is on par with the CIA’s Langley headquarters. But even if it had, we assumed that Apple would do anything to keep the wraps on it. If it had been the iPad leaked before its release, we suspect that the Gizmodo offices may have quietly disappeared off the planet, never to be heard from again. At the very least we expected iLawyers to reign down fiery litigation in an attempt to stop any and all publications. Instead we got a semi-polite letter asking for the phone back. No statements, no denunciations or confirmations – nothing. A whisper of legal action against Gizmodo fluttered by, but that’s it. So we were left to wonder whether the phone was a leak, a fake, or something else entirely. After all, the last time a prototype iPhone went missing, a worker in China was nearly beaten to death before he committed suicide, allegedly.  Not that we were expecting that level of intensity, but some sort of reaction was expected.

The majority of the skepticism stems from the look of the phone. It seems more pragmatic, and less aesthetic. It lacks the aesthetic elegance Apple has become famous for. The change in material for the case is understandable (switching to glass or ceramic helps the cell signal), but it just doesn’t look as nice as previous models.

After Apple’s confirmation that it was their property, the speculation turned towards the level of finish the phone was at. It looked like a prototype, not a replacement of the iPhone. And yet as more people analyze the remains, it is looking more and more that the phone is not only genuine, but an early production model.

John Gruber at Daring Fireball broke it down by the numbers. Gruber suggests that the barcode numbers may hold the key to the new iPhone.

“According to Gizmodo, one of the barcodes attached to the unit read ‘N90_DVT_GE4X_0493’. According to several sources (of mine) familiar with the project, “N90” is Apple’s codename for the fourth-generation GSM iPhone, slated for release this June or July. ‘DVT’ stands for ‘design verification test’, an Apple production milestone. The DVT milestone is very late in the game.” Gruber posted.

Gruber also conjectures that losing an iPhone off campus wasn’t that surprising. The phone is at a level where it needs to leave the Apple campus for accurate cell phone testing.  There are likely several next generation iPhones in use around Cupertino as part of the testing.

Love it or hate it- and we expect there will be some fierce opinions either way- this might be close to the final look of the next generation iPhone.

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