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Tests Confirm Lost 4th Generation iPhone is Real

Gordon Kelly


Tests Confirm Lost 4th Generation iPhone is Real

I dislike iPhone speculation stories as much as anyone, but given the frenzy of activity surrounding this particular piece of news - and suitable time spent to check if it was a hoax - coverage is unavoidable...

Popular US blog Gizmodo claims it is in possession of the fourth generation iPhone, or at least a late prototype. The model was found in a bar in Redwood City (stick with me here) and after full investigation by the team is indeed said to be the real deal.

Proof? Obviously we have none, but according to Gizmodo it has opened the handset up, discovered Apple branded components and connected the handset to a computer where iTunes identifies it as an iPhone. Sadly the bloggers can't get past the activation screen since Apple allegedly remote wiped the handset before it got into their hands. Doh, someone should've known to put it into Airplane mode.

So if we are going to go with the theory this handset is genuine what do we learn? For a start the model's outside appearance is quite heavily reworked from the iPhone 3G/3GS with a more MacBook Pro-esque aluminium boarder around the outside, separate metallic volume up and down buttons and a move to a side positioned micro SIM (the same format as used by the iPad 3G).

On top of this, or should I say 'behind this', the rear is once again completely flat as it was with the first generation iPhone. This fits with the more angular approach in general, but I hope it is more practical and assured in hand than the original bar of soap iPhone. Tech wise we also get the first hints of change externally with a front facing camera while a Flash and larger lens (five megapixels seems the safe bet) comprise the rear camera.

Where we could be in for a disappointment, however, is the screen. Despite Gizmodo reporting the resolution to be much sharper there was no mention of OLED backlighting and it is supposedly slightly smaller than the 3.5 incher Apple has used up until now. Both these decisions would seem like madness given the switch to OLED and 3.7in by most high end Android rivals. It also weighs 140g, which is five grams heavier than the 3GS.

On the plus side the model is 116.8 x 58.6 x 0.93mm making it slightly longer (115.5mm), narrower (62.1mm) and quite a lot thinner (12.3mm) than the 3GS. The battery is 16 per cent larger too being 5.25 WHr at 3.7V compared to 4.51 WHr at 3.7V. Storage at this stage is unknown, but a move to 64GB should be nailed on.

How is it to use? With the handset locked down by Apple sadly Gizmodo is unable to say.

Initial thoughts? IF this model proves genuine - or at least a prototype close enough to whatever will be unveiled in June - then I have to admit I'm a little disappointed. This runs contrary to most of the fanfare which has greeted the report around the web, but I expected more and this feels like yet another redesign rather than a radical overhaul.

Personally speaking a screen any smaller than the 3.5 inches seen in every iPhone to date and lacking OLED would be a deal breaker for me. The same wasted space around that chunky bezel remains as well and while the flat design is quite nice it doesn't look ergonically friendly at all. Apple will need to unveil some seriously impressive processing power (likely the same Apple A4 chip as in the iPad) and battery life to stop me switching to Android after three generations of iPhone ownership.

I'm distinctly underwhelmed.

Update: Curious about the story behind how Apple lost its next generation iPhone? Gizmodo has posted details.

Update 2: As eagle-eyed reader savant points out, Apple has now confirmed the lost handset is real by formally requesting it back.


Via Gizmodo


April 20, 2010, 5:07 am

It looks more like the phone Nokia "should" have brought out to compete with the iPhone 2 years ago. It's just an iPhone with the chrome shaved off and the back smoothed out.

Who really cares what it looks like, if they've finally gone and stuck a decent camera into it, improved the battery and put in a faster processor then it's finally a decent all round device and would tempt me.


April 20, 2010, 5:14 am

One thing I find strange, although prototype might still be the answer but looking at the back, the '4G' shows XXGb.


April 20, 2010, 5:54 am

Gordon, out of curiosity, if TR had been offered the prototype for the (alleged) sum of $10,000, would you have taken it?

By the way, Giz have posted the story behind how they found it:



April 20, 2010, 6:00 am

@Zeus - that's a reference to the capacity which is likely to top out at 64GB. Given how secretive Apple is about security, it's one more specification they didn't need to reveal - and as they successfully remotely killed they handset they didn't.

@Turin - thanks Turin, read that and it is interesting. The key question remains: how close is this prototype to Apple's final 4G design (I suspect the visible screws will go).

And no, we're not fans of chequebook journalism. That's not to say we're having a go at it, simply that we don't practice it.


April 20, 2010, 6:31 am

The question is: was is chequebook journalism or envelope journalism? I kid, I kid.


April 20, 2010, 8:20 am

I gotto say, it is exciting to see how the new iphone is going to look like, but on a side note, if I lost my iPhone in a coffee shop, someone stole it (yes that is what it is when you dont give the phone to the coffee shop staff or the police) sold it to a news paper or news media (if they had airplane moded it they would have access to all my private txt, email, photos etc.) and have that said news media flaunting it for everyone to see, I would be pretty pissed off.......just saying


April 20, 2010, 8:23 am

@Jonas - word is Apple considers the handset not as lost, but stolen so it will be interesting to see what steps it takes.


April 20, 2010, 9:38 am

I have to say, I really, really like that design. All the while I was kind of hoping it would turn out to be the real deal.

The only thing that's bugging me, is the micro SIM thingy. I'm buying a new iPhone the day the next model comes out anyway, but I'll bet there won't be a single micro SIM in the entire Belgian country, so I'll probably be left taking a scissor to my current SIM card -_-


April 20, 2010, 9:39 am

Given the po-faced reactions from some on here you'd think this was something to rival the Manhattan Project.

If the new ceramic casing improves the reception of the WWAN and GPS antennas than it'd be godsend for my impressionable friends who ended up holding glossy paper weights today when we went for a drive through the countryside.


April 20, 2010, 11:00 am

I actually like the look and think it's way better than the current versions. Can't wait to see if the screen really is 960x640. That would be quite impressive.


April 20, 2010, 11:30 am

I'm curious as to whether this gets reported on BBC News....

I wished they sent the product to isupply for a proper teardown. I.e. is it an OLED screen.


April 20, 2010, 11:57 am

I can't see them changing the screen resolution yet - too many problems with legacy applications.

Having owned a 3GS for nearly a year now, I'm honestly more interested in what the other firms are doing rather than Apple - the latter dropped the ball a while back and I'm keen to move to something different as soon as I get within a few months of the end of my contract.


April 20, 2010, 1:00 pm

Apple consider it stolen and it just happened to be found in a bar? Yeah right! The cynic in me seems to think this is more canny marketing than anything else.

Anyway, I really like the look of it but other than 64gig which I could really do with - 32gb is very restricting with my music collection - it doesnt seem that big of a deal. Early days though.

Im a good 15 months away from any new iPhone anyway so this generation will pass me by. Im more concerned with taking advantage of O2s downgrade option so I can get unlimted texts for £25 a month. Will save me a tidy sum over the remaining length of the contract.


April 20, 2010, 1:04 pm

Hmm, I wonder in the phone conversation Gizmodo had with the hapless owner - was he speaking in a high-pitched voice?

Because back in my days at Apple, SJ would have had his b@lls for breakfast.

Maybe he's on a diet.


April 20, 2010, 1:18 pm

Well, this isn't one where Gordon and I see eye to eye:

Personally I think it looks superb. Don't want the screen to be any bigger and in fact wouldn't mind a slightly smaller one. Screen resolution has improved. Flat surface for the camera lens should improve image quality, along with a larger lens and flash. Ceramic back should resist scratches very well and maintain good reception - doubt it alone will actively improve it. Overall build quality should be rock solid. Only things that disappoint are the seams and gaps that break up the design and micro SIM... Oh, and of course the eventual price.


April 20, 2010, 1:22 pm

Apple has formally requested it to be returned, proving it's ownership. So no more doubts about the next version.



April 20, 2010, 1:23 pm

I am about 15 months from replacing my 3GS so am pleased this doesn't seem to be a massive leap. I estimate I will be getting a 5th Gen but I will not still be with O2 unless something dramatic happens to their network - whatever happened to the deal to share masts with Vodafone?


April 20, 2010, 1:36 pm

I'm no Apple lover, but I feel I should point out some reasons why the spec might be as it is.

If Apple were to increase the size of the screen and decrease the size of the areas above and below the screen, they would have to change the screen's aspect ratio, currently 2:3, to prevent the phone from getting any wider. Changing the aspect ratio (perhaps to something similar to the Desire's 3:5) would require many of their existing apps to be modified to take advantage of the new screen ratio. Since Apple aren't fans of fragmentation, that would be quite a jump for them to make. I'd prefer that they made that jump, but I can see why they might decide not to.

That said, they can easily increase the resolution of the screen without changing the aspect, then get the phone to scale any apps that still use the old resolution. This is an easier step to take as it can be done in a way that's transparent to the user, which shields them from the rude internals of the system.

Also, Gizmodo describes the screen as 'smaller', but looking at the pictures there hardly appears to be any real difference in size. Since Apple have a history of choosing impressive displays for their devices, I'll reserve judgement on the screen.

Also, the back panel is apparently now made of glass or ceramic. Apple probably couldn't build this as a curved surface, so the whole design has to accommodate that. The result is a phone that's a lot thinner than the phone it replaces. I'll bet this won't feel cheap or ungainly once you've got one in your hand, quite the opposite.

I'm not a fan of those seams though, but then this is a prototype so you never know...


April 20, 2010, 1:39 pm


But the iPhone's screen is hopelessly low res by today's standards. Surely they can't maintain their pricing while giving customers such low end tech? Judging by Android's progress adapting apps for different screens doesn't seem to be that big a deal. Can't be anywhere near as much effort as adapting apps for the Ipad.


April 20, 2010, 1:57 pm

It looks good, I can't see that they would need to do much more update it visually. The only thing is the lack of an OLED screen... what's up with that. In such a slim device I can't imagine there room to put an LCD in the prototype and where they are putting an OLED in the final design, it's not likely to change now.


April 20, 2010, 2:00 pm

If they rename the 'airplane mode' feature to 'aeroplane mode', then I just might consider it. In the meantime I will stick to my blackberry bold, still the email king, I do hope the next gen iPhone has improved email.


April 20, 2010, 2:11 pm

"Accidently" left in bar.... hype machine kicking into gear!

Ala Miah

April 20, 2010, 3:15 pm

@Malderon or letting everyone down early!

S Xero

April 20, 2010, 3:20 pm


I don't know but plebs are easy to manipulate..


I could live without the OLED on my future HTC Desire; if it had an IPS-panel.


It's pretty challenging to agree with you on the Blackberry-email-thing..

See my manager-brother states if you want a good business-phone, you'd get a Blackberry.

And since business-dudes don't win Nobel-prices.. actually. THEY DO, what's up with that??


You've got a pretty valid point on the aspect ratio. But if that was a choice really made by Orange or Apple, than it shows the company's complete lack of progression. And since you can't change much in the OS since the dawn of the iPhone, that's probably a very accurate guess.

Don't you all feel stupid about reading all this new iPhone-crap? Like you're some part of a predictable weather pattern. Which in the end, you are (>_<)


April 20, 2010, 3:37 pm

@Lamboy- Seeing as it will be running OS 4, we already know the next iPhone will have improved email. The 3G and 3GS should also benefit.

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