Apple Fan Snaps Photo of Possible iPhone 5 Prototype (NewsFactor)

July 29, 2011

The iPhone 5 rumor mill got a boost Friday with what could be a sighting of an actual prototype by an eagle-eyed fanboy. A commuter in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Apple fan said he saw what may be an Apple employee on a train using a device that doesn’t match previous iPhones or an iPod touch, thin and with rounded edges.

Because 9to5Mac previously featured photos of an iPhone case believed to be intended for the refresh model, he sent a photo to the blog with the user’s face blocked out. The device has a black back with the Apple logo.

Bigger Screen?

The cases obtained by 9to5Mac suggest a thinner design with a larger display and a larger home button for the popular smartphone. The case suggests an “almost EVO-like” screen size, which would be a big change from the 3.5-inch iPhone touchscreen that has gone unchanged since 2007. HTC’s EVO 4G for Sprint Nextel has a 4.3-inch display.

Apple is likely to be extremely careful with its prototypes after last year’s embarrassing incident involving an iPhone 4 that was left in a California bar and sold to Gizmodo. Apple called the cops to get it back, but not before photos of the refresh were all over the tech media.

If there is a new iPhone due in September, Apple would be beyond the beta-testing stage and well into final testing, said consumer-devices analyst and Apple watcher Avi Greengart.

“They would be dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s,” he said. “The assumption is, and Apple has confirmed, that there is a product transition coming this fall. The likelihood is that it’s the iPhone.”

Leaks Happen

He said that while Apple is always protective with its prototypes, mistakes happen.

“They are super careful each time around,” he said. “The poor guy [who lost his iPhone 4] got an earful, but I don’t think he was fired. He was supposed to use it outside; he just wasn’t supposed to leave it in a bar.”

Could Apple be deliberately flashing the devices around before launch to build buzz?

“Positively not,” said Greengart. “There is no need to stoke buzz for the product because their whole MO is to have everything secret, which generates buzz.” If anything, he speculated, it would make more sense to leak false information in order to find out where the leaks are.

Greengart believes the iPhone 5 will have a multi-core processor but not Long Term Evolution 4G capability, with a larger screen, but probably not as big as the EVO.

“They don’t want it to be too big to comfortably fit in your hands,” he added. “If they go to 3.7 inches or 3.9 and eliminate the bevel, you’ll have a phone that fits in your hand and still gives you more space for web browsing and apps.”

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