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Direct from Shenzhen: more iPhone than iPhone

In the “Blade Runner” category:

–, –, all,

Just finished sitting down with a Genuine Apple Employee(tm) — the piece of equipment I have is an — ingenious– fake. Copy. Facsimile; replicant, counterfeit, a genuine contre-fait.

The achievement strikes me. This device is running Apple firmware– or close. It mounts as if an Apple device. Normally, I expect it connects to iTunes as– as if-

The Apple Employee(tm) was so kind as to point out some of the clues, starting from the obvious– the manufacturer didn’t copy the Apple connector at the bottom– to the minor issues of quality– the screen is not as responsive, pixelates differently, has poorer colour quality… the Apple emblem is a few centimeters to the left… there are…

This strange creature– it’s slow. The digitizer– the thin membrane layer above the cells which project the display– has nothing of the sensitivity of the Apple device. The slide function halts and jitters, as if in a sort of schizophrenia– the processor inside cannot have nearly the power of the device used by Apple’s production line.

!Imagine. Imagine the engineers who designed this replicant, who, perhaps, speak and comprehend little of English… how close the replicant is, how hard to detect.

I am itching to tear it apart– to take my scalpels and dissect it– what is inside, what does it reveal? What are the chip numbers? Where did they come from? Did whomever made it, have access to a supply chain of actual Toshiba 16MB Flash– does it really have 16MB inside, or do they only put in 4MB and hope the end user won’t notice– or– perhaps more amusing– is the flash memory inside itself “a fake”– did the people who made this fake, perhaps not know the “Toshiba” chips they were purchasing were themselves fakes?

Apple, I heard, has purchased a few batches of those. How many of those replicants are among us– on “genuine” iPhones distributed by Apple? What do those devices do– how to they differ from the originals? Do they contain– transport– across our impermeable borders– threats, unknown, unanticipated?

Moreover– how intriguing!– the thing is used. The soft plastic molding on the back shows three or six months of wear. It was clearly sold to someone; possibly and probably returned due to defect; resold. The phone is SIM-locked to a Thai carrier, and has other personal settings: the music and video files, and pictures, of an individual life. Someone — someone in Thailand– purchased this– probably– thinking it was an iPhone!

Did he ever know, that… it was… a fake?

If I turn around, leaving it on my desk alone… will it … bite me? Transform into a little monster and scurry across the floor, to do some evil? Sit there appearing so attractive, then drop a trojan package onto my PC?

It also came to me, during the above– it’s locked to a Thai carrier!– why would you make a replicant of an iPhone, and then lock it to a carrier? That carrier, or their subsidiary, must be selling these things, somewhere. As “New.” Wow.

“Replicant iPhone, spotted in wild. Do we shoot?”

@—: So: I imagine a description of this and the take-apart photos (the Apple guy is taking some home to Austin tomorrow) would garner some attention. I’m emailing Pogue; damn it, I’ve lost the Wozniak’s email, but he was in Nashville a few months ago handing out cards…