Spotted: Prototype MacBook Pro with 3G on eBay

Over the last few years, we've grown used to 3G-enabled netbooks, MIDs, tablets and more. Now it seems Apple was, at one point, considering the technology for its line of MacBook Pros as a prototype MacBook Pro 3G has appeared for sale on eBay. The notebook in question, a 15-inch Macbook Pro from 2007, has a retractable antenna on the side of the display/lid as well as a SIM card slot.

The seller says he purchased the laptop as a non-functional parts machine from someone on Craigslist. However, when he received it, he quickly realized that this was a very special MacBook Pro. There was the aforementioned antenna, the red motherboard of an Apple prototype, a fully integrated cellular modem and a SIM slot...

"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!

Without a doubt, the biggest question here is does the integrated 3G actually work? Sadly, it doesn't appear so.

"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," eBay seller abhw752579 writes. "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."

Bidding currently stands at $30,100.99, but it doesn't end for another three days. Apple has not commented on the sale.