More than six years ago, an Apple engineer mistakenly left an iPhone 4 prototype on a bar stool in a nice German beer garden in Redwood City, California. The rest, as they say, is history.
The random dude who originally found it didn’t really have a clue he’d gotten hold of Apple’s biggest secret at the time as the prototype device was cleverly disguised as an ordinary iPhone 3GS.
Australian leakster Sonny Dickson gave MacRumors a closer look at a special stealth case Apple uses to prevent leaks and conceal handset prototypes during transport between its Cupertino headquarters and manufacturing partners in China.
If the images Dickson provided are anything to go by, the stealth case does a pretty good job concealing the device and hiding its design. There’s a yellow security tape along the sides to discourage engineers from even attempting to get the case open.
On the back is a passport of sorts, used for quality assurance and control testing.
A prototype device concealed in the case would be additionally engraved with a QR code so that Apple could track it as it travels around the word.
Here’s an iPhone 6 Plus prototype with a QR code on the backside.
“Each component or product that is tested they document in the page,” said Dickson.
“The person writes their initials next to it and any notes about it passing or failing or any other comments. It makes its way through each test/person. It then is finally sent with its ‘passport’ from China to Apple.”
One of the problems with such cases is possible radio interference. That’s exactly what is believed to have happened in Apple’s case, preventing engineers from determining how the iPhone 4 antenna performed in real life.
Encased in a plastic iPhone 3GS lookalike case, the controversial antenna band on prototype iPhone 4 units probably never made a contact with field testers’ hands.
That mistake cost Apple dearly in terms of bad PR and forced its engineers to get back to the drawing board and redesign the stainless steel frame (which doubles as an antenna) for how people actually hold the phone in their hand.
Despite measures like stealth cases and Tim Cook’s promise to double-down on secrecy, multiple Apple products have continued to leak out ahead of announcements.
Even in 2017, with more than six months to go until a new iPhone announcement, we already seem to “know” a great deal about Apple’s Tenth Anniversary iPhone.
Will Apple be ever able to stop those leaks, do you think?