You know all those iPhone 5 cases we’ve been seeing the past few months? According to MIC Gadgets, the source for their design is an iPhone 5 prototype that was stolen off the factory floor of a Foxconn plant in the Futian district of Shenzhen, China.
The site says the tale of the missing Foxconn iPhone 5 prototype came to them through an iPhone accessories supplier (store seen below) who said a case manufacturer paid around $3,100 for the stolen prototype iPhone (a small fortune for a Chinese factory worker) in order to get a jump on competition.
The tear drop-shaped prototype was hidden inside a casing that made it look like an iPhone 4, although because the iPhone 5 is supposedly much wider than the iPhone 4, it’s a bit of a mystery how Apple pulled this off.
Strangely, the prototype had the same A4 chip inside it along with the same amount of memory. The only difference between it and iPhone 4 (exterior differences aside) was that the internal hardware was “slightly modified.”
Apparently, Foxconn got wind of the theft and punished internal management for the loss. A separate source told MIC Gadgets that the person who stole the prototype was paid specifically to do so. To thwart Apple’s tracking the phone, the thief quickly wiped all the phone’s software—his clients were only interested in its external design.
The incident is similar to one from this spring where 3 Chinese men were arrested after stealing and selling info about the yet unreleased iPad 2 to Chinese accessory and case makers. Companies who can sell an iPhone and iPad case at the moment of launch stand to make a lot of money. In 2009, a Foxconn worker committed suicide after being questioned by Foxconn security officials regarding a missing iPhone 3GS prototype.
Of course, when the CAD blueprints for iPhone 5 cases were leaked broadly and passed around the Internet, it likely foiled the case manufacturer’s hopes of gaining an advantage.
MIC made a beautiful video showing off some of cool iPhone 5 cases that have resulted. Check it out below: