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Prototype iPhone was left at bar by Apple software engineer

A 27-year-old Apple software engineer who was field testing Apple's unreleased fourth-generation iPhone left the top-secret device sitting on a bar stool after drinking a German beer in Redwood City, California, Gizmodo reported Monday evening.

Revealing the alleged story behind how Apple's forthcoming hardware was mistakenly lost in public, Jesus Diaz said that the North Carolina State University graduate typed one last Facebook update — "I underestimated how good German beer is" — into his prototype iPhone before it was left on a bar stool. Diaz noted that while Apple's legendary veil of secrecy usually works remarkably well, this time someone slipped up.

"The fact is that there's no perfect security," he wrote. "Not when humans are involved. Humans that can lose things. You know, like the next generation iPhone."

The report claimed that the software engineer, who worked on the iPhone baseband software, was at Gourmet Haus Staudt the evening of Thursday, March 18, just 20 miles from the company's Cupertino, Calif., campus. The Apple employee allegedly left the bar, and left his prototype phone behind, where a patron who sat next to him found the device.

Gizmodo reported that the person who found the phone began to ask around to see if it was anyone's, but no one responded. At first the hardware did not arouse suspicion because it was encased in a plastic shell that made it look like last year's iPhone 3GS. But when no one claimed the phone, the person began to play around with it, and noticed some issues: the camera crashed repeatedly, and the back of it had two barcodes stuck on it.

The bar patron took the phone home with him, and by the next morning it had been remotely deactivated through MobileMe. The anonymous finder — referred to only as a "he" — then realized that something didn't feel right about the phone, and it had a forward facing camera on the front. The person then managed to remove the exterior casing to reveal the true outer shell of the fourth-generation iPhone prototype.

Gizmodo managed to reach the software engineer who allegedly lost the iPhone on Monday, and said they would like to give the handset back (after the website already disassembled it for all of the Internet to see). The person reportedly said they couldn't "talk too much," but indirectly confirmed the iPhone was theirs.

"He sounded tired and broken," Diaz wrote. "But at least, he's alive. And apparently, still working at Apple."