What is it about flagship phones turning up in bars before their official launch? The Nexus 4 is the latest handset to be found in a drinking establishment, supposedly left in the San Francisco bar by a Google employee.

The Nexus 4, made by LG, was scheduled to be unveiled at a Google event in New York on 29 October, which, due to Hurricane Sandy, has been postponed.

Barman Jamin Barton found the handset - which had already been revealed prematurely on both Carphone Warehouse and LG’s websites - in September, though the story has only just emerged.

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Unaware of what the phone was, Barton showed the device to a friend who recognised it as the Nexus 4. After informing Google of the find, the corporation appears to have gone into meltdown, demanding the phone back and even threatening criminal charges.

With Barton allegedly feeling “harassed”, he left the bar with the Nexus 4, despite Google having sent out its global investigations and intelligence manager to reclaim it. 

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With Barton nowhere to be found, the Google exec was left stranded in San Francisco after an unrelated riot unfolded in downtown Mission. Finally Google caught up with Barton, who handed over the phone and was in turn offered $300 if he kept quiet about his find. 

He didn’t, and subsequently sold some photos of the handset to Wired.

Google is not the only company to have lost a phone in a bar before an official unveil. In 2010 an Apple employee inadvertently left a prototype of a new iPhone, which was later found by another customer.

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