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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Did Apple just lose another iPhone?

Either this is the most authentic-looking fourth-generation iPhone fake I've ever seen, or Apple has somehow managed to let yet another new iPhone slip through its fingers.

Vietnamese tech forum Taoviet just posted pictures and video (which I learned of via Engadget) of what looks to be a slightly more refined version of the next-gen iPhone that Gizmodo revealed to the world last month.

There's no way to verify whether the phone in this video is in fact the new iPhone (well, short of a letter from Apple requesting its property back), but it certainly looks like the real deal, from the flat, glossy front and back panels to the new, flat aluminum edges, the front-facing camera, the camera flash in back, and the new microSIM slot, similar to the one on the just-released iPad. Unfortunately, it looks like the handset refuses to boot; instead, all we can see on the display is a picture of a fireball and some apparent debug text in the bottom corner of the screen.

If anything, the apparent fourth-generation, 16GB iPhone in the Taoviet photos looks a little more finished than the one Gizmodo was showing off a few weeks ago, with the pair of screws that had been visible on the bottom edge of Gizmodo's iPhone missing in the most recent pictures.

The Taoviet site (which is slammed by traffic right now, so be patient) also posted teardown photos of the phone, revealing what appears to be a version of Apple's new A4 mobile processor, the same one that powers the iPad.

So how did these enterprising techies manage to nab what appears to be their own fourth-generation iPhone? Well, if an Engadget reader's translation is to be believed, the "unnamed source" who handed over the phone got a cool $4,000 for his trouble, or a thousand bucks less than what Gizmodo paid for its next-gen iPhone.

A couple of observations about this latest iPhone leak, assuming it's authentic: I want this phone. Slim, glossy and now without the unsightly screws on the bottom of the Gizmodo iPhone, it makes for eye candy of the first order, and the front-facing camera can mean only one thing: video chat at last (although how AT&T's 3G network would handle video calls is an open question). A new iPhone this summer would be my fourth in four years, so go ahead, call me a lemming. It's beyond my control.

Observation No. 2: If this is, in fact, a real next-generation iPhone we're looking at here, what the heck is going on with Apple's supposedly airtight security? In past years, Apple has managed to keep most of its high-profile products — particularly its iPhones — almost completely under wraps, but starting with the hapless Apple engineer who left his test iPhone on a Redwood City barstool in March, and now (apparently) this ... well, it looks like the folks in Cupertino are getting a little sloppy. Either that, or it's all part of Apple's evil master plan to whip up interest in the next iPhone (sounds pretty farfetched to me, but hey, anything's possible.)

What do you think? Does this latest "leaked" iPhone look like the real deal to you?

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