These days, Apple sells several 3G-capable devices, namely the iPad and the iPhone, but there is no such product on their iPod or Mac lineup. Indeed, no 3G-capable Mac even exists at the moment, but a new leaked prototype proves that Apple has looked into it.
Back in 2008, Steve Jobs was asked whether he’d ever bring 3G capabilities to Macs. Although he claimed he had “considered it”, he stated that he wasn’t comfortable with tying a computer with a particular carrier and suggested that users who would like to use this feature could simply use/buy a 3G USB modem.
Air does not come with the built-in ability to connect to a speedy wireless data network run by various cellular carriers. Jobs told me last week that Apple considered it but that adding the capability would take up room and restrict consumers to a particular carrier. Through a USB modem, he says, you can still subscribe to wireless broadband with your favorite carrier.
Yet, it seems that Apple has indeed actively worked on building 3G support into its Macs, at least the MacBook Pro. A prototype of a late 2007 MacBook Pro, which unexpectedly emerged on an eBay auction, has a 3G GSM card built-in, which could connect to either AT&T or T-Mobile in the United States (we would guess AT&T would be Apple’s choice, since that’s the decision Apple made with the iPad and largely with the iPhone). This prototype was allegedly originally purchased from Craigslist as a non-functional Santa Rosa MacBook Pro, and indeed it looks like one, but further inspection revealed a red motherboard, a common attribute of all Apple prototypes.
Beneath the logic board, there’s a SIM card board as well as a 3G antenna on the machine’s lid, although this MacBook Pro is seemingly unable to establish a 3G connection, at least with AT&T. However, the 3G hardware is detected perfectly under System Preferences.
This prototype is able to Snow Leopard perfectly, and presumably OS X Lion just as well, since it’s simply detected as a standard MacBook Pro. This prototype is currently being auctioned off, with the latest bid as high as $1,325 (at the time of writing), although it might reach a much higher value in just a few hours. Apple is likely not be too keen on this and demand the auction page to be taken down, but until it does, we can dream of having a 3G-capable MacBook Pro. More shots of the 3G capable MacBook Pro below:
Check out the eBay action page here.