MacBook Pro With 3G Listed on eBay

A 3G Macbook Pro prototype has been appeared on ebay for sell and the Macbook was bought from from Craiglist ‘for parts’ but the buyer was able to repair it to sell further. The laptop carries a red motherboard which is typical of Apple prototypes and the current bid price is $2,065.00 with 4 days and 11 hours left…………….

 

An unreleased MacBook Pro Prototype with a built-in 3G modem has been listed on eBay for sale and MacBook Pro users presently need to purchase a separate Mi-Fi or 3G USB Modem in order to keep their machines connected to the internet when not near a Wi-Fi hotspot. This particular machine dates back to 2007 and is a 15-inch MacBook Pro Santa Rosa laptop with a 3G antenna, 3G hardware and SIM card slot built in. The machine was purchased for parts from Craigslist by the seller who describes the unit:

Upon removing the top case it was immediately clear this was no normal Macbook Pro: the circuit boards inside were bright red as opposed to the normal blue! Further inspection found multiple differences from the stock version, most notably a feature never seen in a Macbook laptop of any kind: what appears to be a fully integrated cellular modem and SIM slot. There is an extendable cellular antenna located at the right top side of the display assembly (The antenna is marked with “Tyco Proto / #006” when slid out), and a standard size SIM card slot located underneath the memory cover on the bottom of the machine. The SIM card board is connected to the logic board via a connector not found on production machines. The solder footprint for it is still present on the production boards and not populated, which is interesting. This would seem to suggest that it was a last minute decision to remove the cellular functionality before going into mass production. The optical drive is marked as a “Sample for Evaluation”. Rather than a normal EMC Number the specifications lapel simply says “XXXX”, and the serial number does not show up in Apple’s online database.

The seller was able to repair the machine to get it into working condition. The 3G connector is seen by the operating system, but the actual data connection is not presently functional. The auction is, of course, sold as is but for our purposes, the existence of such a machine is the most interesting aspect. The laptop carries a red motherboard which is typical of Apple prototypes and the seller also notes that the remnants of the SIM-card connectivity remain on the production motherboards but are not populated. It’s not clear at what stage Apple decided not to pursue production of this model.  The integrated SIM card slow shown above means Apple had used GSM 3G technology rather than CDMA, allowing for use on AT&T and many other international networks. The 3G card itself is identified as a Dynastream ANT2USB stick according to OS X. In the prototype, Apple integrated the 3G antenna as an extendable antenna along the right side of the lid.  You can bid this prototype MacBook Air With 3G at eBay.

 

Basic Hardware Specifications:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz Dual-Core Processor, 4MB L2 Cache
  • 2GB DDR2 RAM (2x 1GB Modules, Expandable to 6GB)
  • 320GB Hard Drive
  • 15.4″ Widescreen LCD Display, 1440 x 900 resolution
  • Slot-load 8x SuperDrive Multiformat DVD-RW Burner
  • nVidida GeForce 8600m Video with 256MB Dedicated Memory
  • 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet
  • Dual-Link DVI Video Out
  • Built-in iSight Webcam
  • AirPort Extreme 802.11n Wireless
  • LED Backlit Keyboard with Ambient Light Sensors
  • ExpressCard/34 Expansion Slot
  • Built-in Bluetooth 2.1
  • 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Cellular Data Modem

 

History and Details:

This laptop was originally purchased from Craigslist as a non-functional parts machine.  Upon removing the top case it was immediately clear this was no normal Macbook Pro:  the circuit boards inside were bright red as opposed to the normal blue!  Further inspection found multiple differences from the stock version, most notably a feature never seen in a Macbook laptop of any kind:  what appears to be a fully integrated cellular modem and SIM slot.  There is an extendable cellular antenna located at the right top side of the display assembly (The antenna is marked with “Tyco  Proto / #006” when slid out), and a standard size SIM card slot located underneath the memory cover on the bottom of the machine.  The SIM card board is connected to the logic board via a connector not found on production machines.  The solder footprint for it is still present on the production boards and not populated, which is interesting.  This would seem to suggest that it was a last minute decision to remove the cellular functionality before going into mass production.  The optical drive is marked as a “Sample for Evaluation”.  Rather than a normal EMC Number the specifications lapel simply says “XXXX”, and the serial number does not show up in Apple’s online database.   Rather than use the machine for parts I of course had to put the time into repairing it to its original condition and see what happened!

After repairing the original red logic board and adding RAM, a hard drive, and battery the machine was again fully functional.  It installed the OS without any problems, and behaves as any other Apple machine.  I have used and tested it extensively and everything seems to be in excellent working condition.  It is installed with OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard, and as it identifies itself as a normal Macbook Pro it should also run Lion without issue.  Physically the machine is in surprisingly good condition, though it does have normal signs of wear from being used (minor scuffing and scratches, etc).  There are no major dents or dings or scratches and from the outside the only thing that distinguishes it from a normal Macbook Pro is the antenna.  Please note that the hard drive, battery, ram, and Magsafe adapter are not the original ones that came with the machine, as I received it without them present.  The battery is third party rather than Apple original, though identical in form and function.  It holds excellent charge.  The hard drive and ram were purchased brand new for this machine.

The biggest question of course is the cell network data functionality.  I have unfortunately been unable to get it working with my SIM card, though it is seen by the operating system and recognized as a modem device usable to connect to the internet with various configuration options.  It is entirely possible it can be made to work by someone with more software and driver experience than myself but I can make no guarantees.  It could be that there was an additional board originally that was not included with this machine, or that Apple could not work out a contract with a carrier for data service (Perhaps AT&T did not want something sure to be a bandwidth hog on its network), or simply that no driver exists.  There are too many unknowns . . . . it is entirely possible it never worked, and there is no way to know without finding someone directly involved in the development of the hardware and not under an NDA.  According to the seller (whom I contacted again after realizing what the machine was) he used to work as an engineer at Apple and received the machine for software development work.  He was allowed to keep it when he left, and since had used it as a personal machine until it stopped functioning and he sold it to me.  He says that he never personally saw the cellular data functionality working and does not know any more about it, as it was not related to his work.  All my conclusions are solely speculation based on the hardware present and OS response and should not be taken as fact.

 

ScreenShots:

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Thanks: {1},{2}

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