Sealed iPhone loaded with data likely just a demo unit sold in error

Posted:
in iPhone edited April 25
A man reportedly bought what was packaged as a new iPhone, only to find what appears to be personal data from a previous owner -- but there are hints that it may be a demo unit, resold by a third-party vendor.

New Zealand iPhone


Content in the phone included flight, bank, and medical details, as well as voice messages from the owner's daughter, Glen Cottle told Stuff. The prior owner also had smarthome controls enabled for lighting, heating, and a front door lock.

Cottle said he suspects the earlier owner was Australian, but that he hasn't had any luck trying to contact him. The iPhone was bought sealed from a Smith's City store in Timaru, which was allegedly "horrified" when it learned about the situation and ready to swap for a new device.

It's not clear how the mistake could have happened. One possibility is that it was a resealed phone from Smith's or third-party store. Another is that it was a demo unit, and indeed a screenshot from the Notes app shows the sort of generic, idealized samples Apple tends to use.

Further suggesting a demo unit, one note even references a road trip along Big Sur, a section of the California coast. The company tends to be California-centric in marketing despite a global audience.

New Zealand iPhone


Assuming the device was resealed after return, for Cottle to use the phone, and access the data, the device must not have been locked with Face ID or a passcode. Demo units provided to retail by Apple aren't passcode protected.

The incident nevertheless reinforces the need to wipe an iPhone before selling or trading it.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    So is everything news now? Really? 
    DanManTXelectrosoftflydog
  • Reply 2 of 15
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,754administrator
    So is everything news now? Really? 
    There are things that go viral for reasons that they shouldn't. This is one of those things that is starting to do so, and pointing out why the story isn't what it appears to be is a fundamental responsibility.

    If you wish to continue this aspect of the conversation, please do so in my direct messages and not here in the forums.
    edited April 25 king editor the gratedjames4242shark5150ravnorodomgilly33
  • Reply 3 of 15
    This is 1000% a demo unit. I work at an Apple Store in the states and that picture of the notes app is the same demo content we pre load our in store devices with. Case closed. 
    mark fearingshark5150electrosoftAppleExposedStrangeDaysrepressthischasmretrogustogilly33watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 15
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 362member
    This is 1000% a demo unit. I work at an Apple Store in the states and that picture of the notes app is the same demo content we pre load our in store devices with. Case closed. 
    A shot of the back of the box with the SKU would also indicate that. The demos also don't include earbuds (at least they don't in Canada).

    The demo content is typically pre-loaded so it could have been a sealed unit.
    chasm
  • Reply 5 of 15
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,754administrator
    If you can't see your comment, re-read the commenting guidelines.
  • Reply 6 of 15
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,420member
    LOL, I bet John Appleseed is in the phone's address book.

    Also, the retail box has the text "iPhone" on both of the long sides in silver ink (which might contain anti-counterfeiting ink). The box in the attached photo has no markings. Curiously, the photo on the front appears to be grayscale, not in full color like the retail box. This phone was never intended to be sold as a brand-new retail device.

    It's either a demo unit or a field replacement unit -- likely the former based on the demo content.
    edited April 25 mark fearingloopychewwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 15
    If this is a demo unit, then shouldn’t of been disabled??? Because it’s not in range of the Apple stores WiFi network? Maybe this was a demo unit intended for another retail store ?
  • Reply 8 of 15
    veloster80veloster80 Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    What case is that?!?
    80s_Apple_Guy
  • Reply 9 of 15
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 362member
    If this is a demo unit, then shouldn’t of been disabled??? Because it’s not in range of the Apple stores WiFi network? Maybe this was a demo unit intended for another retail store ?
    The demo units have preloaded content and certain features disabled: you can't erase it in the settings, you can't set up a passcode, etc. Otherwise it's a perfectly normal iPhone without earbuds in the box.

    This sounds like a brand new demo unit that was never set up in store.

    The store would have had to enrol it in MDM and manually disable the device if they want that ability.
  • Reply 10 of 15
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,376unconfirmed, member
    Of course Apple will be skinned and Tim's public hanging will be rallied for by the iKnockoff losers for sharing data from a demo unit....

    Meanwhile android is sending all your info to anonymous servers.
    genovellewatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 15
    If this is a demo unit, then shouldn’t of been disabled??? Because it’s not in range of the Apple stores WiFi network? Maybe this was a demo unit intended for another retail store ?
    No, demo units have Appleids on them that Apple has access to. That way they can disable it if they need to. 

    It came preloaded with a retail image that has preloaded apps on it to showcase the device. 

    The dealer was either greedy or incompetent in figuring out this was a demo unit. 
    One way to find out would have been to scan the serial number into the site that Apple provides it’s resellers which would have told them this is a demo unit and belongs to Apple. 

    In the past I purchased a Mac cube from Circuit City when Apple ended their relationship. Turns out what they sold me was a demo unit that belonged to Apple and was not part of CC’s inventory.  I found out when calling Applecare. The rep was laughing when he found out that a demo unit was sold, he ended up transferring the warranty to me and replaced a set of mangled speakers that came with the Mac. 
    retrogustowatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 15
    Smiths City looks like a Best Buy that also sells furniture and patio.  If its employees are anything like BB employees, a demo unit slipped into regular stock isn't a far-fetched notion.

    "Sealed" doesn't mean much, when anyone can buy shrink wrap and reseal something to resemble new.

    But, that said, Apple doesn't use typical shrink wrap on their iPhone packaging, so it wouldn't be difficult to spot.

    I'm wondering how easy it is to replicate the clear wrapping that Apple does use, which is form fit and tears apart when the tab is pulled?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 15
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,121member
    Though not the most relevant point in this story - you cannot assume that a sealed packaging guarantees anything. Over a decade ago I bought a high-end video card in a sealed package from Best Buy. When I unboxed it at home I realized the previous buyer had bought the video card, put it in his/her machine, and put a generic low-end video board in the box, resealed everything, and returned it to Best Buy for credit where it was restocked. I commend Best Buy for allowing me to return the bogus board at no cost to me. They apparently have a way to identify returned packages and recognized that the returned package should never had been placed back into stock. The moral of the story is that scammers can pretty much make anything appear to be factory sealed unless the manufacturer employs some form of consumer detectable tamper detection.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 15
    mpantone said:
    LOL, I bet John Appleseed is in the phone's address book.

    Also, the retail box has the text "iPhone" on both of the long sides in silver ink (which might contain anti-counterfeiting ink). The box in the attached photo has no markings. Curiously, the photo on the front appears to be grayscale, not in full color like the retail box. This phone was never intended to be sold as a brand-new retail device.

    It's either a demo unit or a field replacement unit -- likely the former based on the demo content.
    Dangit, someone got to the John Appleseed comment before I did.
  • Reply 15 of 15
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    If this is a demo unit, then shouldn’t of been disabled??? Because it’s not in range of the Apple stores WiFi network? Maybe this was a demo unit intended for another retail store ?

    they said Smiths in the article. so yeah 3rd party. who might get the demo image from Apple but set up without any of Apple's special security that needs an Apple wifi etc
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