Choose Your Own Adventure: The Gizmodo iPhone Saga

 Get an overview with this handy flowchart. Then scroll down and start clicking through the interactive story.

[Infographic by Sheryl Sulistiawan and Tyler Gray]

Click below to begin your adventure!

Every fact we discover about this whole lost iPhone story leads to another, and then there's one that refutes the first fact and then another that proves the first one true but negates the latter two, and so on. The legality of the case is in the murkiest of water, to the point where you can almost choose your own conclusion based on what's known—and not come out any less accurate than someone with the opposite conclusion. Hence, we present the entire saga, as it's currently known, in the style of a Choose Your Own Adventure book. If you're a pictures kind of person, follow the flowchart above, which is a rough visual interpretation of the story here.

(We'll try and update both as the case develops—or our head explodes.)

Oh, and you can read a more traditionally laid-out version of the story in our explainer.

Start here:

Gray Powell, an Apple engineer, is out on the town at a German bar in Redwood City, CA on his birthday. He's got a prototype iPhone, disguised as an iPhone 3GS, that he's testing out. When he leaves the bar, he accidentally leaves the iPhone prototype behind.

Secret Source (will be referred to as such from here on out) is another patron at the bar. He spies the iPhone, and asks around at the bar to try to find the owner, but is unsuccessful. Secret Source takes the iPhone home with him.


a. Stop right there. This is obviously an Apple conspiracy to get more press for the upcoming iPhone. Powell "accidentally leaves the iPhone behind"? Yeah, right. Apple doesn't make mistakes like that. That's all I need to hear. Click here.

b. Keep going—what happened the following morning? Click here.

Choose Your Own Adventure (R) Chooseco LLC and was used with permission.  Choose Your Own Adventure books are currently republished by Chooseco, more info here

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in San Francisco (no link for that one—you'll have to do the legwork yourself).

Add New Comment


  • Chris Kohler

    It should be pointed out that if Gizmodo was itself participating in the crime and then writing about it, that doesn't give them immunity. The investigation is into Gizmodo receiving stolen property and nothing to do with if their source committed a crime. A judge apparently agreed with this interpretation of the law because a warrant was signed for the search and seizure.

    I appreciate the humor of the flow chart and how it explains the story, but it is biased toward protection of journalism (not surprising considering the source), but search and seizure is dictated by probable cause, not guilt or innocence. Anything not admissible as evidence within the confines of the warrant can't be used in court for this investigation either.

    Is blogging journalism? Sure under the right circumstances and I think Gizmodo, in general, falls under that rule. However, even as such their behavior was pretty much reprehensible and they have been called out on it.

  • Tyler Gray

    Biased against cops raiding what is, effectively, a reporter's newsroom, files, computers, camera, and more? You bet. If the cops broke in trying to get to the person who sold Giz the iPhone, they're on shaky ground at best. If the cops were looking for evidence that Chen himself committed a felony, then that's one thing. But you can't break into a reporter's files to find out who his source is, whether that source committed a crime or not. Sorry Jason, but you're absolutely wrong that sources aren't protected when a crime is committed. They're not protected from prosecution if they reveal themselves to have committed a crime, but they can rest assured that the reporter they talked to won't be made to rat him out. That's the backbone of investigative journalism. Read up on your shield law. And thank you for commenting.

  • Jason Parry

    Um a little biased much? They are researching a crime, not a story. Sources are protected but not when a crime was committed. Selling stolen property, buying stolen property are why his house was raided.

  • Sandra Pearson

    Ok, the flow chart is hysterically funny as well as informative. Very clever. But - I find it interesting and not a little disturbing that Ethics is out there in it's own box attached to nothing. How sad is that?

    Sandra Pearson
    WinInfinity Network
    SandraPearson dot com

  • Chris Reich

    When the 'tale' gets too long on a publicity stunt, people lose interest.

    Apple knows this.

    The story has gone from an amusing spy vs. spy to having a nasty edge. People don't like that.

    Apple knows this too.

    Chris Reich