9to5Mac: How we got those leaked iPhone XS and Apple Watch photos

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Wednesday at 10 a.m. PT, the world is not only expecting Apple to reveal three new iPhones, but specifically the iPhone XS*. 

Why so sure? Because 9to5Mac’s noted Apple leaker Guilherme Rambo was the one to bring us the picture you see above — a picture that looks like it could have been pulled directly from Apple’s marketing materials. 

And because today, Rambo has revealed that he found the pictures at Apple’s own website. Whoops!

In his own words, here’s the clever trick he used:

I just took the technique for a spin myself, and it might not have been that difficult a heist to pull off. Observe:

Here’s Apple’s Special Events website, where the company offers recaps of previous keynotes.


Screenshot by Sean Hollister/CNET

And here’s the page for Apple’s September 2017 event, where it announced the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and Watch Series 3:


Screenshot by Sean Hollister/CNET

Want to find out where Apple stores those product images? A tool like Chrome’s Inspect Element does the trick:

Screenshot by Sean Hollister/CNET

If you compare a few such images, you quickly see Apple’s URL format has been pretty consistent, making it ripe for URL hacks.

Theoretically, anyone could have swapped out “september-2017” with “september-2018” and “iphonex” with “iphonexs” and found the same pictures that Rambo did.

Just don’t expect Apple to make that mistake ever again. It might obfuscate the URLs — or better yet, not put images on a publicly accessible server until after the products are announced.

You might have to find your next unannounced iPhone in a bar. Or in a firmware leak.

*We are always considering the possibility that a company might leak things intentionally, or change its mind at the last minute. There’s still a chance it won’t be the iPhone Xs.

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