A first-generation iPhone prototype is getting a lot of attention on eBay

As a rule of thumb, the older your phone, the less money you’ll get for it when you finally decide to upgrade. There are exceptions to this, of course: if your current handset is an iPhone prototype from 2006 then you’re likely sat on a chunky smartphone goldmine.

One such device is currently lighting up eBay as you read this. At the time of writing, it’s currently going for $12300 (just shy of £9550) and it still hasn’t met its reserve price. Still, with over eight days left and 224 people keeping an eye on the listing, you’d imagine the bidding has some way to go yet.

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The 8GB iPhone prototype is a real rarity for collectors. Built in 2006 when the best selling phone was the Nokia 1600, the handset runs OS X and ‘Earthbound’ – which is a prototype version of iOS. Unlike the billion devices sold since, the 2006 iPhone prototype was hand-assembled in Cupertino rather than coming off a Foxconn production line in China.

There are a couple of differences from the final iPhone Steve Jobs held on stage a year later. For one thing, it’s a little heavier at 144.5 grams. For another, the mute switch has a tiny bell icon which was absent from the final release. Most obviously of all, it has the six supported radio bands etched onto the back like particularly geeky graffiti.

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It’s safe to say that the original iPhone – especially an unreleased prototype that’s likely swarming with bugs – won’t offer a hugely great smartphone experience 12 years after it was made, but for the 64 bidders, this is more about owning a genuine slice of technological history.

And if nothing else it’s considerably less risky than buying an unreleased Pixel 3 prototype – while Google will likely track down and disable stolen future hardware, Apple probably has better things to worry about than dealing with a 2006 curio.

What piece of tech history would you like to own? Let us know on Twitter: @TrustedReviews

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