This time it’s not a crazy story about a guy who left a phone in a Silicon Valley bar. The latest clamor over a possible next-generation iPhone 4G prototype has erupted in an unlikely place — Vietnam.
Mobile phone accessory salesman Tran Manh Hiep rushed to a cafe in southern Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday when word on the street spread that someone was there flashing the newest iPhone.
Hiep said he inspected the device, filmed it and posted the video on the Tinhte.com forum web site, for which he is an administrator.
“It’s a real iPhone because when I plugged it into a Mac, it recognized it as an Apple product,” Hiep said Thursday, declining to give any details about the phone’s owner.
The video could still be accessed on his Vietnamese web site, creating much chatter. The iPhone looks similar to one found in a Silicon Valley bar recently. That one was sold to Gizmodo.com, a gadget blog, in April for $5,000.
“It looks almost exactly the same as the one that appeared on Gizmodo’s web site,” Hiep said by telephone. “But it looks newer and has no screws.”
Some Vietnamese messages posted on Hiep’s forum questioned the authenticity of the phone, suggesting that it may be a fake Chinese model. Many counterfeit phones make their way into Vietnam, but Hiep said he’s convinced this is the real deal.
He said he does not know how the man got the iPhone, but that the owner is also a Vietnamese mobile phone dealer.
Apple Inc. is notoriously secretive about unfinished products. It confirmed it owned the Gizmodo phone, but did not say it was the next iPhone. Analysts expect a new model in June.
After Gizmodo returned the phone, law enforcement searched the blogger’s home and seized computers. A dispute over the legality of a search warrant is ongoing in California.
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