"He did contact apple twice, both times the drones at the other end of the phone denied it was an apple product."
No, he didn't. Allegedly. one of his friends said he'd call Apple on his behalf, according to his lawyer. He made no effort himself and he knew what he had. Read some of the reporting on this case and you'll see that comments on sites like this seem to be filling in the blanks according to the narrative they want to tell.
If you're anti-Apple, you're more likely to believe the "he called Apple twice" and "Apple's goons broke into the finder's house" stories instead of the truth, which is he never called Apple and his flatmate dobbed him in.
"What else should he have done?"
Assuming the lie that he called Apple were true, he should have handed it in to the bar staff. Gray Powell called the bar repeatedly the day after he lost his phone. Or, he should have handed it into the police, as the law requires.
The facts are out there; it's not hard to … um, to read them. It's not as much fun as pure conjecture, but it's less speculative.