The Guy Who Sold Apple’s Lost iPhone 4 Prototype Spills All On Reddit

brian-hogan

At 21 years old, Brian Hogan became one of the most infamous people in Apple news when he found and sold a prototype of the then-unreleased iPhone 4 to tech blog Gizmodo. It was one of the biggest ‘gets’ in the history of tech journalism, but it tore Hogan’s life apart… and now he’s answering questions about the experience on a Reddit AMA (or Ask Me Anything thread).

In the on-going Q&A, Hogan starts off by explaining how he came to have the iPhone 4 in his posession:

When I was 21 I was at a bar pretty late at night with 2 friends. After the last call both of my friends went to the bathroom, as they left a random drunk guy came out, walked up to me, picked up the phone on the bar stool next to me, and said don’t forget your phone! I told him it wasn’t mine and I didn’t know who it belonged to. Random drunk guy hands me the phone and tasks me with finding its owner. I ask around and cant figure out who it belongs to, and after my friends returned we left and walked home having intentions of figuring out who the phone belonged to and giving it back.

The next day I woke up and actually forgot that I had the phone at first, then went about trying to figure out who it belonged to. I checked Craigslist, then started looking at the actual phone for clues. First I noticed that the screen looked like it had a higher resolution than any iPhone I had seen, then that the case had plastic pieces/buttons in strange places. When I took the case off I found an iPhone with a flat back, flat edges, and a forward facing camera. There were two bar code stickers on the back, and there were a series of x’s instead of a serial number. I was very curious/excited at this point, but I had no idea what I had.

From there, Hogan tried to sell the device to several tech blogs, but Gizmodo was the one who bit, offering him $5,000 for the deive and an additional $3,000 (which Hogan never received) if Apple confirmed the device was real.

The ordeal, which eventually ended up resulting in criminal charges, tore apart Hogan’s personal life.

It was extremely tough on my family, there were news vans in front of my house and we ended up staying at a hotel in the east bay for a week until they left. My name got out in the media because my girlfriend at the time made a Facebook post about it, which I asked her to delete, but the press found her and she couldn’t deal with all the stress that followed and we broke up maybe 3 months after that.

Hogan says that he holds no hard feelings over what happened, but that he does regret the entire incident. Unsurprisingly, he completely avoids Apple products now, working on a Windows PC and carrying around a Galaxy S3 smartphone.

The AMA is still going on, so if you want to ask Hogan a question, it’s here.

Related
  • dustyhansen

    I love how you leave out the whole part about him trying to get ahold of Apple first before selling it. I know we can go read the link, but shitty job of reporting to make it sound like he was immediately trying to sell it for cash. He tried to do the right thing first.

  • technochick

    I love how you leave out the whole part about him trying to get ahold of Apple first before selling it. I know we can go read the link, but shitty job of reporting to make it sound like he was immediately trying to sell it for cash. He tried to do the right thing first.

    The right thing would have been turning it into the bar staff, dropping it off at the Local apple store or contacting the guy on the logged in facebook profile

    He attempts to contact Apple were wuestioned greatly when he could have taken it to any store and said he found it and left it with the staff. He didn’t. That was part of why he was charged with selling stolen property.

    Plus his roommates tell a much different story, one that is that he decided he had just gotten a free iPhone which is why he was trying to restore it etc

  • bdkennedy

    Hogan learned something about himself that day. He can be bought.

  • nvettese

    It’s CultofMac, of course they are going to leave out what happened if it looks as though Apple wasn’t at fault. Apple overstepped every boundary with this. There is no way this guy should have gone through what he did. He wasn’t a thief, he did not steal it, but he was an opportunist. Apple believes they are above the law, and this proves it.

  • TechBell

    Old news… let’s move on.

  • crateish

    Oh, it affected Gizmodo, trafficker of stolen property. They are still banned from Apple events.

    And ‘First I noticed that the screen looked like it had a higher resolution than any iPhone I had seen.’ Busted. He knew what he had.

  • bdkennedy

    He called AppleCare. What the hell are they supposed to do? Anyone with the slightest amount of common sense would have realized just how important the situation was and I don’t know, call Apple Headquarters? FedEx it there? Send an email to Steve? He did the bare minimum and knew it.

    I love how you leave out the whole part about him trying to get ahold of Apple first before selling it. I know we can go read the link, but shitty job of reporting to make it sound like he was immediately trying to sell it for cash. He tried to do the right thing first.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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