Surely this can't have happened? After the media and legal storm surrounding Gizmodo's leak of the iPhone 2010 prototype, how did another phone break free? It certainly seems the real deal and we can glean a few extra details from it.
As MacRumors reports, the new images surfaced at a Vietnamese forum called TaoViet.tn—and unsurprisingly this Web site is now experiencing problems, probably due to the massive traffic hit it's currently taking. So the original images and even cached backups may not be currently accessible if you try to look. But there's certainly a ton of them, showing the phone from all angles in people's hands and on a desk, including the disassembled body and uncovered chipsets. In other words, this is pretty much confirmed as the genuine article.
How did it get out? We don't know for sure—TaoViet.tn apparently relates the story that a Vietnamese businessman bought it in the U.S. along with an iPad. This sounds extremely underhanded to us ... but who knows? In this age of the controlled leak, has Apple's veil of secrecy been permanently perforated? What we can say is that there's a handful of new facts that we now know about this year's iPhone revamp.
- The original Gizmodo find certainly is a very late-run prototype—this more finished version has but a few cosmetic differences.
- Those black lines around the sides of the phone body are still there, and weren't a feature of the prototype nature of the first leaked phone.
- The microSIM slot has been repositioned, probably as the internal chips and motherboard were finalized from prototype spec to final spec.
- Unibody machining has obviously been tweaked for the production models, and now there's no need for those "ugly" screws at the bottom of the phone next to the dock connector.
- It looks like the camera at the front, and the improved camera at the back have made it through to the production models ... unlike what happened to the iPod Touch's camera last year, which was apparently removed at the last minute.
- While Gizmodo's phone had "XXGB" inscribed on its back, this new one has "16GB" on it. This is a new thing, since it's the same size as the current entry-level iPhone 3GS, and previously Apple had bumped the entry level iPhone's storage every new edition. This might be for price point coverage (and we may expect a new 64GB version) or it might be a feature Apple changes right at the last minute before next month's launch.
- This new leaked phone runs, but only seems to have some testbed software dubbed Bonfire aboard. Nobody looks to have peeped at the screen resolution, but Giz's claims of a higher-res screen may be borne out.
- Fearing less retribution than Gizmodo's Jason Chen did, TaoViet disassembled the phone down to the circuitry level, prizing off the delicate metal EM shields. This apparently revealed that the new phone is running with a dedicated Apple CPU aboard—the large square chip with the label on it in the image below. Though we'd advise waiting to see higher resolution shots, and some analysis of the rest of the board before confirming this as the truth, at a guess this is likely to be another home-brewed ARM unit.
Enough info and intrigue for you? Well, if it's not, you can certainly expect much more as this week plays out and Apple tries to get their other new phone back.
Update: Here's some video of the running device being manhandled. This thing looks real, folks.