Someone is selling an extremely rare pre-release iPhone prototype on eBay, and bids have already crossed $US16,000

  • An iPhone prototype from 2006 is currently up for auction on eBay.
  • Over 70 bids have been made on it, bringing the price up to $US16,500.
  • The device was last sold in a private transaction in 2015 for $US8,000, a person familiar with the device told Business Insider.
  • There’s a subculture of Apple fans who trade and sell prototype devices.

A fascinating piece of Apple history is currently available on eBay.

The device, sold by 321dady, seems to be an iPhone that was used for testing inside of Apple in late 2006, before the device was eventually revealed to the world by Steve Jobs in 2007.

Apple fans have bid on the item 88 times, bringing the price to over $US16,500 as of Wednesday. The 10-day auction still has several days before it closes.

The phone runs Earthbound, an internal Apple operating system that provides access to testing and development tools. According to the listing, it also runs Apple OS X, a desktop operating system. When the iPhone was first launched in 2007, then-CEO Steve Jobs said it ran a full version of OS X.

Screen Shot 2018 08 29 at 2.00.14 PMScreenshot/Ebay

According to the listing, the device was handmade, has custom internal hardware, and is heavier than the iPhone that eventually was released. The listing says it’s a “DVT” prototype from, or a design verification testing device, which means that it was produced before “PVT” testing, which is the engineering stage before mass production.

Not the real price

According to the listing, this phone was listed on eBay in 2015, when bidding reached $US61,000.

However, the eBay listing was taken down, and the device was eventually sold privately for $US8,000, according to a person with knowledge of the prototype phone who is not the seller. “This is definitely one of the rarer units,” the person told Business Insider.

Apple prototypes are of heavy interest to a certain subculture of Apple fans who collect pre-release prototypes and non-public Apple software.

Prototype devices like this one were often given to or taken by Apple engineers at the end of a project as a souvenir, according to collectors in the community, and some of them make their way onto the market.

Typically, Apple turns a blind eye to the market for these unreleased but obsolete devices unless they are traded on public forums like Craigslist and eBay. Apple often requests posts like this one are taken down when they’re on public websites. Most trades and sales happen on private channels, according to collectors.

Check out some of the photos:

S l1600 (1)Ebay
S l1600 (2)Ebay
IPhone prototypeEbay

NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.