Prototype Macbook Pro with 3G: In my shop now!

Discussion in 'All Things Apple' started by AlricLantra, May 16, 2011.

  1. AlricLantra

    AlricLantra Member

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    So I work as a repair technician, and frequently run a "Wanted: Broken Apple Laptops" ad on my local Craigslist. Today I got in one of the oddest things I've ever seen . . . . what appears to be an unreleased prototype version of the 2007 15" Macbook Pro Santa Rosa.

    Upon initial inspection I did a bit of a double-take. Taking out the battery and removing the memory cover there was something that definitely didn't belong . . . . a sim card slot! The man who brought it in said it was a prototype and that he had worked on the design. The 3G feature was then removed before the final release, and he kept the sample and used it as a personal laptop since. Apparently it died on him and he attempted to replace the logic board with no success (his new board appears to be DOA from my tests). I bought it from him for more than I usually pay for parts value, and set about to inspect it further.

    The slot in question:

    [​IMG]


    Inside, all the PCBs are a bright red color instead of the normal blue/green of production Apple hardware. The logic board appears to have several hand-soldered wires added and tiny differences from a stock Santa Rosa board, as well as an extra two connectors: one that goes to the SIM slot and one that I assume is where a cell radio board would sit. I might be wrong, but I don't see any other radio chips or antennas not on the production board so I assume it must have been on a daughter card. These connectors have solder traces present on a production board but not populated. The optical drive is marked as an evaluation sample, and there are "EVR" markings on the board's label.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here you can see the SIM card board. Much of it appears to have been hand soldered:

    [​IMG]


    The additional connectors on the logic board:

    [​IMG]

    Here's a standard production board for comparison:

    [​IMG]



    I'm getting on attempting to repair the machine and get it functional. I'm really curious as to whether I'll see anything in the dmesg log when I insert a SIM card! The other hardware such as the screen assembly and drive were standard and don't seem to be different from the production model.

    Either way its a really nifty piece of Apple history, and certainly raises some questions for me about why the feature was left out. There's been speculation for years about 3G Macbook Pros, but this kind of proof that not only was Apple considering it but they actually DID it and had prototype machines with it functional then backtracked really raises some questions for me.

    I'll post some better pictures when I get my decent camera back from the other shop, for now cellphone pics will have to content. I'll post an update if I can get it running . . . . I wonder if it will have any trouble with a standard OS X install?
     
  2. fr

    fr Diamond Member

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    Nice find. Interesting that Apple let him keep it.
     
  3. alent1234

    alent1234 Diamond Member

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    it's dead end tech now that phones have wifi hotspots. 3g ipad is a $130 premium. why pay it when you can just use your smartphone for 3G?

    same with laptops. if you need 3G why pay a premium for the laptop when you can just use your phone as a hotspot
     
  4. TheStu

    TheStu Moderator<br>Mobile Devices & Gadgets
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    Because it is an extra $60/month for me to tether my phone?
     
  5. alent1234

    alent1234 Diamond Member

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    it's also $60 a month for the data from a laptop.

    AT&T charges $20 or so a month for tethering

    it's a business feature which is why everyone is charging so much for it. in the end it doesn't make sense to put the hardware into laptops when phones already have it. the hardware is cheap, but you have to pay the licensing as well
     
  6. Eug

    Eug Lifer

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    No it isn't. Depends on the provider and the plan.

    I pay $0 extra for tethering. I'm on Fido in Canada. For any plan that 1 GB or more per month, tethering is free (which is one reason I don't really need 3G support in my laptop or iPad).

    That argument would make sense if the iPad didn't have 3G.
     
  7. Patranus

    Patranus Diamond Member

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    Apple lets a lot of their hardware out after it is released.
     
  8. Eug

    Eug Lifer

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    ^^^
    Apple has never released a 3G MacBook Pro.
     
  9. AlricLantra

    AlricLantra Member

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    Haha, I didn't expect this thread to turn into an argument over tethering fees.


    At any rate, it looks like the machine is now functional after reflowing the nVidia GPU chip. Had to remove all the hand soldered vias first before putting it in the reflow oven, then resolder them back afterwards. Next up I'll run to Tigerdirect to grab a hard drive and try installing Leopard. From there, no idea what's going to happen!
     
  10. alfa147x

    alfa147x Lifer

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    Awesome! Super excited to see this thing up and running
     
  11. Kaido

    Kaido Lifer

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    Sign me up!

    I really hope the next MBA houses a 3G slot. I'd love to replace my iPad with a 13" Air!
     
  12. AlricLantra

    AlricLantra Member

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    Leopard installing now. The install DVD doesn't see any hardware out of the normal, perhaps there will be something once its installed. I'll also see if inserting a SIM card makes anything happen, heh. The chances are pretty slim, but damn it'd be awesome to have the only Macbook Pro with factory cell data support in the wild!
     
  13. AlricLantra

    AlricLantra Member

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    Leopard is running. Big surprise, nothing happens when I insert a SIM card and it doesn't see any hardware different than normal. Perhaps a special OS version or driver is required, or a protype Airport card, or some such. Any ideas guys?
     
  14. AlricLantra

    AlricLantra Member

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    According to the guy I got it from:

    "Sorry! The Cell phone interface was never tested, I did not see working either while working with Apple and I did not receive any Module either which can be installed at J1300.

    For you info it has cell Antenna also on right Edge of the Display edge."


    Oh, well. Either way I definitely now have one of the most unique Macbook Pro's ever! No idea what I'll do with it, heh.
     
  15. JSt0rm

    JSt0rm Lifer

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    still cool to have
     
  16. AlricLantra

    AlricLantra Member

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    Think I'll sell it, actually. Can't bring myself to keep anything with an 8600m GT GPU :(
     
  17. airdata

    airdata Diamond Member

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    *cough* mywi *cough*

    Can we start a debate over what is and is not covered under Unlimited data? I got a nice lady at AT&T to refund me $25 after I argued that text overage was nonsense when i'm paying for 2 phones w\ unlimited text.

    I feel the same about tethering. Can you imagine if your ISP started billing you extra based on what devices were attaching to your AP at home?
     
  18. TheStu

    TheStu Moderator<br>Mobile Devices & Gadgets
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    *cough* Windows Phone 7 *cough* not going to do anything shady *cough*
     
  19. AlricLantra

    AlricLantra Member

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    Apparently this was the wrong place to post this hardware goodness, heh. Found out in additional inspection today that there was actually a pull-out cellphone antenna in the display housing, held on with magnets.
     
  20. alfa147x

    alfa147x Lifer

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    That's pretty awesome! Keep it coming
     
  21. ViRGE

    ViRGE Elite Member, Moderator Emeritus

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    I'd probably keep it just to show it off (how many people have prototypes of unreleased Apple laptops lying around?), but yeah, I can see not wanting to keep it around if you can't use it. The good news is that there are some serious collectors out there that will pay good money for a prototype like this, so you wouldn't be poor for your efforts.

    And congrats on your find. Even if you aren't keeping it, it's quite remarkable.:)
     
  22. ManBearPig

    ManBearPig Diamond Member

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  23. jalaram

    jalaram Lifer

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    Same description as OP and pics look the same.
     
  24. Oyeve

    Oyeve Lifer

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    Nice find.
     
  25. JSt0rm

    JSt0rm Lifer

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    op come back and tell us if you got 70k for that thing :)