Details of Lost Next-Generation iPhone Saga Revealed in Search Warrant Affidavit


Following on earlier news that a California court would be releasing documents related to a search warrant for the lost next-generation iPhone that ended up in the hands of Gizmodo, CNET has now posted the full documents released by the court. The documents indicate that Gizmodo's Jason Chen was considered in the requests to be a suspect in three felonies, including purchase or receipt of stolen property, theft of trade secrets, and malicious damage to another person's property (the prototype iPhone) valued at over $400.

The documents also include testimony that Brian Hogan, the finder of the iPhone, had received $8,500 from Gizmodo for the device, with an additional bonus payment to be made if Apple releases the expected device this summer.

The affidavit from Detective Matthew Broad outlines a series of events, including a discussion with Apple executives which revealed that Hogan's roommate had contacted Apple after Hogan connected the iPhone to her computer, fearing that the lost or stolen device would be traced back to her. Hogan's roommate cooperated fully with authorities and assisted them when Hogan and an acquaintance removed several pieces of evidence from his apartment. The evidence, which included a desktop computer, USB flash drive and memory card, and stickers from the iPhone prototype, were found in a church, under a bush, and in a gas station parking lot.

Hogan's roommate relates a story very similar to that previously related by Hogan to Gizmodo, suggesting that another bar patron had picked up the iPhone and given it to him thinking it was his. It is unclear exactly how Apple engineer Gray Powell lost the iPhone, although he noted that the last thing he remembered was placing it in a bag he had brought with him to the bar. The bag was later knocked over, and it is possible that the phone fell out at that time.

Hogan's roommate also noted that she and other attempted to talk him out of selling the prototype iPhone by pointing to the effect it could have on Powell's career, but he was unswayed. Hogan reportedly said, "Sucks for him. He lost his phone. Shouldn't have lost his phone."

The documents also include an email from Gizmodo editor Brian Lam to Apple CEO Steve Jobs in which he offered an explanation for his publication's actions and expressed disappointment that Gizmodo had been receiving less attention from Apple than other media outlets recently.

The thing is, Apple PR has been cold to us lately. It affected my ability to do my job right at iPad launch. So we had to go outside and find our stories like this one, very aggressively.

Apple also documented damage to the prototype iPhone upon its return, noting that a ribbon cable had been broken, a screw had been inserted incorrectly causing an electrical short, snaps for the back plate had been broken, and several screws had been stripped.

Overall, the investigation remains ongoing and neither Chen nor Hogan has been charged in relation to the case. The entire affidavit is fascinating to read and is available in its entirety (PDF), via Wired.

Top Stories

New Photos Offer Better Look at iPhone 12 Color Options

Tuesday October 20, 2020 2:34 am PDT by
As we wait for the iPhone 12 review embargo to lift later today, more pictures are circulating of the devices in real-world lighting conditions, providing a better look at the different colors available. Leaker DuanRui has shared images on Twitter of the iPhone 12 in white, black, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. The black and white colors are similar to the iPhone 11 colors, but the other...

iPhone 12 Pro in Graphite and iPhone 12 in Blue Shown Off in Unboxing Videos

Monday October 19, 2020 8:20 am PDT by
While the iPhone 12 Pro does not launch until Friday, we now have an early unboxing video of the device courtesy of Twitter account DuanRui, providing a closer look at the shiny new flat-edge design and sleek Graphite color option. Ben Geskin re-uploaded the unboxing video to YouTube, which we've embedded below: Geskin has also uploaded an unboxing video of the iPhone 12 in Blue: ...

Apple Releases iPadOS and iOS 14.1 With Multiple Bug Fixes Ahead of iPhone 12 Launch

Tuesday October 20, 2020 10:06 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.1, the first major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 14 operating system updates that were released in September. iOS and iPadOS 14.1 come a week after Apple released the golden master versions of the updates to developers. The iOS 14.1 update can be downloaded for free and it is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access...

Watch: iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Unboxing Videos and First Impressions

Tuesday October 20, 2020 6:05 am PDT by
Apple's embargo has lifted for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro reviews. In addition to our detailed review roundups for each device, we've rounded up over a dozen unboxing videos and first impressions below. iPhone 12 in Blue on left and iPhone 12 Pro in Pacific Blue on right via Engadget Key new features of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro include a flat-edge design, 5G support, a much faster A14 ...

Gold Version of iPhone 12 Pro Apparently Has a More Fingerprint Resistant Stainless Steel Frame

Tuesday October 20, 2020 11:56 am PDT by
iPhone 12 Pro reviews hit the web today, and one of the more interesting tidbits came from TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino, who revealed that the Gold version of the device apparently has a more fingerprint resistant coating applied to the stainless steel frame. From his review:Most of the iPhone 12 Pro finishes still use a physical vapor deposition process for edge coating. But the new gold...

Photographer Austin Mann Tests the iPhone 12 Pro's Camera

Wednesday October 21, 2020 4:14 am PDT by
Travel photographer Austin Mann usually performs an in-depth review of new iPhone models to test their camera performance in real-world scenarios. To test Apple's new iPhone 12 Pro, Mann traveled to Glacier National Park, Montana. Mann focused on some of the biggest camera upgrades with the iPhone 12 Pro, including the upgraded Wide lens, Ultra Wide Night mode, and LiDAR autofocus, across a...

iPhone 12 Pro Max Has Smaller 3,687 mAh Battery According to Regulatory Filing

Tuesday October 20, 2020 8:48 pm PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 Pro Max is equipped with a 3,687 mAh battery, which is around 7% less capacity than the 3,969 mAh battery in the iPhone 11 Pro Max, according to a regulatory filing published by TENAA, the Chinese equivalent of the FCC. The regulatory filing, spotted by MacRumors, also lists the iPhone 12 Pro Max with 6GB of RAM as seen in benchmark results last week. Apple has filed ...

5G Drains iPhone 12 Battery 20% Faster Than 4G in Benchmark

Wednesday October 21, 2020 3:17 am PDT by
After the first reviews for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro emerged yesterday, a new report by Tom's Guide reveals the extent of battery life reductions when using 5G. The report outlines a test wherein the iPhone surfs the web continuously at 150 nits of screen brightness, launching a new site every 30 seconds until the battery drains. Interestingly, the test was run on an iPhone 12 and...

Hands-On With Apple's iPhone 12 and 12 Pro MagSafe Cases

Tuesday October 20, 2020 1:33 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are launching this Friday, and ahead of that release date, Apple is shipping out various accessories like the MagSafe charger and MagSafe cases. Yesterday we took a look at the MagSafe charger, and today our MagSafe case came in the mail, so we thought we'd take another look at the charger to see how it works with the case and just how strong the case magnets are. S ...

Reliable Leaker Suggests AirTags 'Coming Soon' in Two Different Sizes

Tuesday October 20, 2020 1:53 am PDT by
Apple's rumored AirTags Bluetooth tracking devices could launch imminently and will be available in two size options, based on new tweets from cryptic-but-reliable leaker L0vetodream. In typical enigmatic style, the leaker first tweeted this morning that a "big one" and a "small one" are "coming soon," but withheld what they were referring to. However that was followed an hour later with the ...