Ultra-Rare iPhone Prototype Bids Reach Nearly $14K (But Is It Legit?)

Ultra Rare Iphone Prototype Ebay Auction Credit: eBay
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An alleged ultra-rare prototype of the very first iPhone has surfaced on eBay — but there might be reasons to be suspicious of the listing.

The device, put up for sale by a small seller in Portland, Oregon, is allegedly an in-house prototype of the first-generation iPhone. The last handset is currently at a $13,500 bid as of the writing of this article, though that price tag wasn’t enough to reach the auction’s reserve.

While the seller didn’t elaborate on where they got the iPhone, various markings and other details about the handset do match other known first-generation prototypes.

For example, the rear of the handset sports various markings indicating that it’s a “ver. 1.1.1” device. There are also markings denoting the iPhone’s various connectivity options such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and various signal bands.

Rare Iphone Prototype 1

Photos listed in the auction also depict the iPhone running various evaluation software. Another picture depicts the iPhone’s serial number — which has been blurred out — and other details about it.

Rare Iphone 2

The seller says the iPhone runs testing software such as OS X and Earthbound, and was created in 2006. Unlike production models of the first iPhone, the alleged prototype was handcrafted in Cupertino, California and weighs quite a bit more than the consumer version.

Iphone Protoype 3

Other details include the fact that the prototype lacks FCC etchings, sports a different set of internals, and has a bell icon on the physical mute button.

Is it Legitimate?

Before you rush out to buy the ultra-rare device, it’s worth noting that there are a few things that call its authenticity into question.

One of those things is a concurrently running auction for a similar first-generation iPhone prototype put up by a seller in Edinburgh, U.K. This device was listed a few days before the Portland, Oregon prototype.

Protoype 4

The Edinburgh seller claims that the device is a similar prototype, but it lacks the etched markings of the Portland handset. Instead, there’s a handwritten sticker that lists similar hardware version and connectivity information.

Protoype 5

But the product description is where things get tricky. It seems like the Portland listing basically pulled the same description from the Edinburgh iPhone, only slightly modifying it.

The Portland iPhone also has an identical image seemingly lifted from the Edinburgh listing — a picture depicting an alleged system management screen.

Of course, eBay does have certain mechanisms in place that allow sellers to quickly pull information (like specifications and descriptions) from past similar auctions.

It’s not smart to bet on the legitimacy of a product being sold for upwards of $10,000. While the Portland prototype has a bit more credibility than the UK iPhone, potential buyers should be wary of the legitimacy of either listing.

Prototype iPhones are, of course, extremely rare and usually fetch high prices on auction sites. But many devices are the property of Apple, which could suggest dubious origins for some of these listings.

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