Is this the next generation Apple iphone?

Technology bloggers were riveted over the weekend as photos of what may be a yet unannounced next generation iPhone began circulating on the internet, writes Nick Bilton.

Pictures of the device first appeared on the technology blog Engadget. And now the product itself has fallen into the hands of Gizmodo where it has been prodded and ripped apart as if it were a little green alien from another planet. Gizmodo editors are not saying how they acquired the device.

The reports began when Engadget showed photos of a sleek new iPhone and told readers that it “was found on the floor of a San Jose bar inside of an iPhone 3G case.” In other words, the phone was in disguise and whoever was carrying it appeared to have lost it.

John Gruber, a blogger who runs Daring Fireball, which concentrates mainly on Apple and its products, at first speculated that the phone could be fake, but later said, “I called around, and I now believe this is an actual unit from Apple — a unit Apple is very interested in getting back.” Gruber later unearthed an Apple patent that discusses a next generation iPhone with a glass ceramic back, much like the one visible in the photos.

Apple has not returned an e-mail message seeking comment. There have already been three versions of the iPhone, but it is unclear when the next one would appear.

Now Gizmodo has taken the speculation to another level, pulling the phone apart and offering a detailed review of it.

The site notes that some of the new features include: a front-facing video camera for mobile chats, a camera flash and higher resolution camera, and an improved display on the phone that will stretch to 960 pixels, almost double the screen resolution of the current iPhone 3GS.

The site also notes that the battery is 16 percent larger than past batteries, and that the internal “components are shrunken, miniaturized and reduced to make room for the larger battery.”

It’s unclear whether this is a real iPhone prototype, or if the individual who may have lost it still has a job at the company.