Purported prototype of original iPhone sells for $1500 on eBay

By , Dec 30, 2013


An alleged iPhone prototype sold on eBay this morning for a staggering $1500. The handset appears to be in excellent condition, and the screenshots provided by the owner show the device running what looks like Apple’s internal diagnostic software.

The seller specifically calls it an ‘original iPhone engineering prototype,’ with signal strength measurements etched on the rear casing. And he says he’s selling it because his wife told him he had “too much stuff” and he needed to reduce his collection…

Here’s an excerpt from the item’s eBay description:

“Here it goes! My wife says I have too much stuff, so I have to reduce my collection. I am selling a very rare original iPhone engineering prototype. These were used to test the iPhone’s various features. To do so, a special test software was installed, which is still running on the device perfectly.
This is device is especially rare, as it shows the initial iOS version installed and the signal strength values etched on the back. This was done by Apple internally and is guaranteed genuine. I am collecting Apple products for ages and I know of only 5 such devices in existence, I saw another one a few weeks back on eBay, but the auction was stopped ( possibly by Apple ).”

The seller reiterates that because the device is a prototype, it doesn’t run a full version of iOS in its current and state and it won’t make phone calls. It’s just a collector’s item, he says, as he cautions that Apple could stop the auction or transaction at anytime.

While it’s impossible for us to confirm the item’s legitimacy, the seller’s eBay name is ‘applefancollector’ and he’s been selling stuff on the site since 2003 with 100% feedback. That’s not definitive proof, but this certainly isn’t some kind of fly-by-night operation.

There were over 37 bids on the auction, and MacRumors points to a Reddit thread where the alleged buyer speaks out: “so I went ahead and bought it. I figured with the prices for older Macs being what they are, this would be worth a bundle in the future.”

What do you think? Was this a smart move, or did the buyer get suckered?

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  • johnnytalks

    Only $1500?

    • ConduciveMammal

      I thought that too; whilst still a lot of money, I figured this would go for at least double that.

      • al7oot

        Check that seller on eBay samsonbible selling brand new sealed 1st generation iPhone for $10000 …

      • Bob

        I could put up a banana for sale on eBay for 1 million, doesn’t mean it will sell for that much.

      • johnnytalks

        Interesting thought Bob…

  • chumawumba

    He has too much stuff? Boy would I like to see what else that guy has!

    • M Last

      he doesn’t have any items

      • chumawumba

        Not for sale

      • ConduciveMammal

        He meant in his collection, not his For Sale list

  • M Last

    has been sold for $1499

  • chumawumba

    Anyone else find it interesting that the screenshots show the phone is running OS X?

  • Royce Otero

    What a waste

  • trumpet444

    I would’ve bid if I knew about this

  • James

    Not really. iOS was built upon OS X. I think the original iPhone keynote even has Steve Jobs announcing “and it even runs OS X” or something like that.

  • James

    Any idea what the legal repercussions could be for buying a Apple Prototype? Considering its Apple Internal Property, couldn’t Apple come after you or something?

    • Jeremy Says Herro

      Sounds like it could be, just reflecting back to the alleged theft of the iPhone 4 prototype that was supposedly left in a bar.

      • ConduciveMammal

        I thought back to that very same event

  • Burge

    With this being only a test model for what looks like signal strengths I don’t think it would be the one to have. Now if it was a test model with IOS on it it could be worth a lot more.

  • Jeremy Says Herro

    …and here we are today.

  • ConduciveMammal

    I wonder how he came to be in possession of such a rarity

  • bobism

    eh,….. this does not excite me .. the first iPhone was very underwhelming to me..

    • Kevin Schrader

      back in the days when it came out, the first iphone was like the greatest f**king smartphone on the whole world :D

  • Jeremy Says Herro

    …and here we are now.

    • bobism