Usually, the best gadget blogs can hope for in the weeks and months leading up to an Apple product launch are blurry photos of dubious origin. The folks at Gizmodo have hit the jackpot, though, gaining possession of what looks like a genuine prototype of the next iPhone.
The device actually functions and is detected as an iPhone in iTunes, although Gizmodo claims Apple remotely disabled this particular unit. Still, based on the "Connect to iTunes" screen, the site believes the fourth-generation device will have a "much higher resolution" than the 3GS's 480x320 display. Other novelties on the prototype include a front-facing camera, two volume buttons instead of one, a micro-SIM slot, and a bigger lens at the back.
Physically, the prototype adopts a design half-way between the existing iPhone and the latest iMacs. The black display bezel reaches all the way out to the edges, with a solid, flat aluminum border sitting below and playing host to the various buttons, ports, and slots. Unlike the iPad, though, this device doesn't have an aluminum back—just a flat expanse of black plastic.
Gizmodo came up with a very reasonable explanation for the choice of plastic instead of aluminum at the back: wireless reception. The original iPhone did have a metal back, but like the 3G version of the iPad, it also had a black cap for the antenna to work through. A completely metallic rear just wouldn't cut it, apparently, so Apple may have decided to go all plastic, as on the current iPhones.
Check out Gizmodo's full article for more details about the prototype—and more evidence of it being a genuine piece of Apple hardware rather than an elaborate prank.