Chris Chang from M.I.C. Gadgets claims that Apple manufacturer Foxconn may have "lost" an iPhone 5 prototype, which was subsequently sold to case manufacturers who then promptly began producing cases that leaked onto the internet, flooding us with rumors of the larger, wider, tear-drop shaped form factor.
With its past experience, one might think Apple would have been able to track that prototype down in a heartbeat. However, Apple was outsmarted. The person who had access to the prototype wiped the phone’s software, thus disabling the GPS hardware needed to track it down. It was then allegedly sold to one of the iPhone case manufacturers for RMB ¥20,000 (about $3,100). We were told that Foxconn was aware of the loss and had penalized internal management for the incident. We also heard from another source that the person who “lost” it was paid to do so. This case is similar to the iPad 2 leak reported back in June, where three men were jailed for stealing unreleased information about the Apple tablet.
Apple has been known to produce more than one iPhone prototype before -- an ambitious model and a more conservative model if the ambitious one doesn't come together in time. Whether or not this story is accurate, whether or not Apple had this type of prototype in the pipe for iPhone 5, and whether or not they're going to bring it to market are all unknowns at this point.
What's not an unknown is that Apple will finally settle this once and for all on October 4.