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These are the secret cases Apple uses to hide prototype iPhones during testing

iPhone Prototypes

In what is widely regarded as the biggest, albeit accidental, product leaks in tech history, an Apple engineer in 2010  went out for a few drinks and accidentally left a pre-release version of the iPhone 4 behind at a bar. Famously, the device — which was cloaked in a special case designed to look like the iPhone 3GS — ultimately ended up on the front page of Gizmodo for the collective eyes of the tech world to see.

Apple has long masked pre-release versions of the iPhone in specially designed cases, hardly a surprise given the company’s arguably unrivaled obsession with product secrecy. After all, a new iPhone model needs to undergo real world testing at some point but the last thing Apple wants is for gawking civilians to spill the beans on any new iPhone designs and features Apple has in the works.

Shedding some more light on these mysterious cases, noted hardware leaker Sonny Dickson recently shared a number of interesting photos and tidbits with MacRumors about how Apple hides new iPhone hardware during the run-up to a new iPhone release.

Pictured below is one such iPhone case designed to completely cover as much of an iPhone’s design as possible. As evidenced below, only a small portion of the display itself is visible.


The yellow tape, meanwhile, is there to detect if anyone attempts to tamper with the case and remove the iPhone from its secure housing.

What’s also interesting is that each iPhone travels with a passport of sorts designed to document how the device performs in any number of given tests.

“Each component or product that is tested they document in the page,” Dickson told MacRumors. “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.”

With the iPhone 8 said to feature the most radical redesign that we’ve seen in years, it’s a safe bet that Apple is doing all it can to prevent any leaks about the device’s new form factor from leaking out. Still, it’s hard to keep Ming-Chi Kuo out of the loop completely, with the reputed analyst relaying this week some fascinating details about the device’s new edgeless design.

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.