Alleged ‘iPhone 5’ cases surface again, reveal same slim, tapered design

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New images of what are purportedly cases for Apple’s still-unannounced iPhone 5 have surfaced. The shape of the cases further corroborates rumors that the fifth-generation iPhone will have a thinner, tapered design.

Images of the case (in its various colors) were sent to us from the manufacturer, Mettei Technology, which is based in Shenzhen, China. Shenzhen is also the location of a Foxconn factory, which produces a number of products for Apple, including the iPad 2.

Based on what we can gather from the images, the cases have a near-identical design to the case unveiled by 9to5Mac late last month. The designs are so similar, in fact, that they may well be one in the same. Both this case and the previously revealed case have slots for the headphone jack, rear-facing camera and the ringer on/off switch.

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Unlike the 9to5Mac leak, however, these cases were revealed to us not in a leak, but in an email advertising the cases for sale. The company claims that they can have orders for the “silicon case for Apple iPhone 5,” which come in 10 different colors, shipped within four days after they receive payment.

Mettei Technology was not immediately available for comment about the case advertisement, and no additional information about the case appears on the Mettei website.

Reports that Apple’s next iPhone (or at least one of them) would be thinner, with a “teardrop” design have been floating around for months. The first such reports came via This Is My Next, which also reported that the iPhone 5 would have an edge-to-edge screen and a gesture-based home button.

Now, there are plenty of reasons to disregard these as cases for iPhone knockoffs, or simply just a hoax.

For starters, China is overflowing with phony products, so just as the company’s close proximity to a Foxconn factory adds to the possibility that the cases are based on some authentic Apple design, the fact that they are produced in China basically cancels out the chances of any true revelations.

In addition, the cardboard iPhone placeholder in the cases reads says it’s for a “5G” iPhone — terminology that screams “fake!” (A quick glance at the Mettei website shows that they mislabel the iPhone 4 a “iPhone 4G,” so the “5G” designation likely means nothing either way.)

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The actual phone in the placeholder looks to us like any of the first three generations of iPhone (original, 3G and 3G S). That said, it also looks nearly identical to the recently leaked Chinese “iPhone 5 clone” that popped up last week.  It is, of course, possible that these cases are made for the Chinese imitations, and not the real thing. If that’s the situation, then what these cases reveals comes down to how close the fake iPhone 5s are to the real thing.

To add to this year’s staggering iPhone rumor mill insanity, it’s also possible that Apple has more than one phone in the works, high-end and a low-end versions. That means this could be a case for one, but not the other. Or none at all. It’s enough to drive Apple enthusiasts out of their minds.

As always, any iPhone rumor has to be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. But  with an increasing number of rumors — as well as products that you can apparently buy right now — showing up on a near weekly basis that reveal a slimmer, tapered design, we would be surprised if this part of the fifth-generation iPhone speculation proves false.

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