Photos of a Prototype MacBook Pro with Integrated 3G Cellular Modem

One of the most requested features for Apple's MacBook Pro line has been for the integration of some sort of built-in 3G cellular data to allow for anywhere wireless connectivity. MacBook Pro users presently need to purchase a separate Mi-Fi or 3G USB Modem in order to keep their machines connected to the internet when not near a Wi-Fi hotspot.

IMG 20110811 014004
Apple has developed prototypes of the MacBook Pro with integrated 3G data, as evidenced by this eBay sale showing a never-released MacBook Pro prototype.

This particular machine dates back to 2007 and is a 15" MacBook Pro Santa Rosa laptop with a 3G antenna, 3G hardware and SIM card slot built in. The machine was purchased "for parts" from Craigslist by the seller who describes the unit:

Upon removing the top case it was immediately clear this was no normal Macbook Pro: the circuit boards inside were bright red as opposed to the normal blue! Further inspection found multiple differences from the stock version, most notably a feature never seen in a Macbook laptop of any kind: what appears to be a fully integrated cellular modem and SIM slot. There is an extendable cellular antenna located at the right top side of the display assembly (The antenna is marked with "Tyco Proto / #006" when slid out), and a standard size SIM card slot located underneath the memory cover on the bottom of the machine. The SIM card board is connected to the logic board via a connector not found on production machines. The solder footprint for it is still present on the production boards and not populated, which is interesting. This would seem to suggest that it was a last minute decision to remove the cellular functionality before going into mass production. The optical drive is marked as a "Sample for Evaluation". Rather than a normal EMC Number the specifications lapel simply says "XXXX", and the serial number does not show up in Apple's online database.

The seller was able to repair the machine to get it into working condition. The 3G connector is seen by the operating system, but the actual data connection is not presently functional. The auction is, of course, sold "as is" but for our purposes, the existence of such a machine is the most interesting aspect.

IMG 20110812 203044
The laptop carries a red motherboard which is typical of Apple prototypes. We've seen this in other prototype machines that have leaked out of Apple before: prototype Mac Pro and prototype iPod touch. The seller also notes that the remnants of the SIM-card connectivity remain on the production motherboards but are not populated. It's not clear at what stage Apple decided not to pursue production of this model.

IMG 20110516 000509

The integrated SIM card shown above means Apple had used GSM 3G technology rather than CDMA, allowing for use on AT&T and many other international networks. The 3G card itself is identified as a Dynastream ANT2USB stick according to OS X. In the prototype, Apple integrated the 3G antenna as an extendable antenna along the right side of the lid.

Apple has yet to produce such a machine with integrated 3G, but has clearly been working on possibility since as far back as 2007.

Update: "ANT" referenced in the Dyanstream ANT2USB is a low power 2.4GHz wireless protocol closer to Bluetooth than to 3G data, though that doesn't explain away the presence of a SIM slot and large antenna.

Update 2: The auction has been pulled, presumably due to a complaint by Apple.

Top Rated Comments

StealthGhost Avatar
133 months ago
In before people who don't read say it's ugly

This is a prototype from 2007, before 3g was in like...any laptops

Edit: I lost, first post is just that
Score: 53 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Skika Avatar
133 months ago
Please have mercy on our eyes. Couldn't they make it internal or something??:rolleyes:


Its a prototype never meant to be seen from 2007 ??
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
winston1236 Avatar
133 months ago
definitely shows its age haha, remember when all the cell phones had those antennas?
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ri0ku Avatar
133 months ago
Well.....Does the 3G work? Tell us man!!!!

If you read... and check out the source link for the auction sale it tells you that it does not work...
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macduke Avatar
133 months ago
In before people who don't read say it's ugly

This is a prototype from 2007, before 3g was in like...any laptops

Edit: I lost, first post is just that

Lol. I actually don't think it's a bad design. Just needs some updating for the current models. It's an innovative placement and I've never seen another machine like that, though one possibly exists. It seems kind of like the OLPC bunny ears but far less obnoxious.

This would be a welcome addition to my future MBP purchases. Especially if I could keep the service separate from my current contract and activate it only when needed.

On a related note, doesn't Apple usually have eBay take down legit listings like this?
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ri0ku Avatar
133 months ago
Cool at least they have experimented with it. Hopefully this will become common on pro's or the air more especially in the future.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
airtag in hand

Apple Enhancing AirTags Anti-Stalking Measures With Android App and Shorter Sound Intervals

Thursday June 3, 2021 11:10 am PDT by
Apple is enhancing AirTags security to prevent stalking using the Bluetooth devices, Apple told CNET today. Apple is already sending out over-the-air updates to AirTags that will shorten the amount of time before an unknown AirTag alerts you if it is in your possession. At the current time, AirTags play a sound after three days of being away from their owner. After the update, AirTags will...
maxresdefault

Here's How Apple's New iPhone to iPhone Data Migration Feature Works in iOS 12.4

Tuesday July 23, 2019 1:20 pm PDT by
Apple this week released iOS 12.4, the newest version of iOS 12 available for iPhones and iPads. One of the new features in iOS 12.4 is an updated data migration option that uses device to device transfers rather than relying on iCloud. Apple didn't provide much information on the new data migration feature, so we thought we'd check it out in our latest YouTube video. Subscribe to the ...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
macos catalina legacy system extension alert

Apple Begins Warning Users That 'Legacy System Extensions' Won't Work With a Future Version of macOS

Wednesday March 25, 2020 9:53 am PDT by
Apple has shared a new support document that indicates kernel extensions — which it calls "legacy system extensions" — will not be compatible with a future version of macOS because they "aren't as secure or reliable as modern alternatives."System extensions are a category of software that works in the background to extend the functionality of your Mac. Some apps install kernel extensions, which...
os x mountain lion macs 16x9 2

Apple Makes OS X Lion and Mountain Lion Free to Download

Wednesday June 30, 2021 12:19 pm PDT by
Apple recently dropped the $19.99 fee for OS X Lion and Mountain Lion, making the older Mac updates free to download, reports Macworld. Apple has kept OS X 10.7 Lion and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion available for customers who have machines limited to the older software, but until recently, Apple was charging $19.99 to get download codes for the updates. As of last week, these updates no...
airtag precision finding

AirTag Includes U1 Chip for 'Precision Finding' Feature

Tuesday April 20, 2021 12:11 pm PDT by
Apple's long-awaited AirTag was finally unveiled today, and as expected, the small circle-shaped accessories can be attached to items like wallets, keys, and more to allow them to be tracked in the Find My app. As was rumored ahead of release, each AirTag is equipped with a U1 chip, and on devices that also have U1 chips, there's a Precision Finding feature. U1 Ultra Wideband chips are...
iOS 15 General Feature Yellow

Everything New in iOS 15 Beta 6: SharePlay Disabled, Safari Redesigned and More

Tuesday August 17, 2021 2:12 pm PDT by
Apple released the sixth beta of iOS 15 just a week after the fifth beta, but the new update brings some of the most significant tweaks that we've seen to iOS 15 during the beta testing period. Safari Redesign Apple in iOS 15 beta 6 has added a toggle to move the Safari address bar to the top of the interface, which returns Safari to an iOS 14-like design and mitigates all of the Safari...
m1 macbook air

Kuo: Mini-LED MacBook Air Coming in Mid-2022

Thursday July 22, 2021 7:48 pm PDT by
Apple will release a new version of the MacBook Air around the middle of 2022, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in note to investors seen by MacRumors. The upcoming MacBook Air will feature a 13.3-inch mini-LED display, which would make it the second Mac to gain mini-LED technology after the 2021 MacBook Pro, which is rumored to include a mini-LED display and is expected to launch later ...
2016 macbook pro flexgate b

Apple Faces Another Class-Action MacBook Pro ‘Flexgate’ Lawsuit

Thursday August 20, 2020 6:43 am PDT by
Another class-action complaint has been lodged against Apple, which claims that the company was aware of a MacBook Pro design flaw that caused some devices to have backlight display issues (via Apple Insider). The so-called "flexgate" problem was present in some MacBook Pro models manufactured between 2016 and 2017. The problem appears as dark patches along the bottom of the MacBook Pro's...