Yes, sometimes history does repeat itself. Once again, an Apple employee is rumored to have left an unreleased iPhone prototype at a bar, according to a CNET report.

The phone supposedly went missing at the tequila lounge Cava 22 in San Francisco’s Mission District in late July, and it was eventually sold on Craigslist for $200, unidentified sources familiar with the investigation told CNET’s Greg Sandovla and Declan McCullagh.

The news sounds eerily similar to last year’s lost iPhone 4 fiasco, but for some reason the story didn’t find its way to the gadget blogosphere until now. Last year’s prototype iPhone 4 was eventually sold to the gadget blog Gizmodo for $5,000, where it went on to spawn an infamous series of blog posts leaking just about every detail of the device.

That this recent find hasn’t made the same waves may be a sign that it’s not an iPhone 5 prototype. I have a hard time imagining that Apple could let a true iPhone 5 prototype out of its grasp after last year’s fiasco. The company has reportedly taken extreme measures with its next-generation iPhone prototypes, like sending them out to carriers inside of locked and sealed boxes.

Once Apple realized the phone was missing, it enlisted the help of the San Francisco police department. CNET writes:

Apple electronically traced the phone to a two-floor, single-family home in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, according to the source.

When San Francisco police and Apple’s investigators visited the house, they spoke with a man in his twenties who acknowledged being at Cava 22 on the night the device went missing. But he denied knowing anything about the phone. The man gave police permission to search the house, and they found nothing, the source said. Before leaving the house, the Apple employees offered the man money for the phone no questions asked, the source said, adding that the man continued to deny he had knowledge of the phone.

The iPhone 5 is expected to feature a thinner design, bigger screen and other cosmetic changes from the iPhone 4. A true iPhone 5 prototype would likely sport some of those changes, and if the Craigslist seller was familiar with Apple’s smartphone line, he or she would have probably asked for far more than $200 on Craigslist. Most likely, the prototype in question looks like an iPhone 4 (although it may be one of those developer-only iPhone 4s with a dual-core A5 chip).

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