More reports are springing up that the next generation iPhone 5 will feature a thinner, tapered hardware design based off images of 3rd party silicone cases. Now this is not the first time we've come across rumors of what the new hardware will look like. It all started as early as April when we heard about a completely new design and then again earlier this month we heard similar reports of a thinner and lighter device.

However, iPhone 5 -- assuming that's what Apple calls it -- from what TiPb has been hearing for a few months now, from very reliable sources, the next generation of iPhone hardware will look very, very close to the current iPhone 4 design. It will not take on the design of the iPhone 3GS or iPod touch. It will not be moving backwards.

Now Apple often does work on more than one concept, a more audacious design that changes a lot (like iPhone 3GS to iPhone 4) and a more conservative model if the audacious one doesn't work out (like iPhone 3G to iPhone 3GS), so it's possible the different rumors are based on leaks from different concepts.

It's also possible the 3rd party cases appearing with this shape are harbingers of iPhone nano concepts instead, or simply next generation iPod touch cases (with added iPad-style mute switch).

Bottom line is do not get your hopes up for a newly redesigned iPhone 5. Expect a better camera along with the dual core A5 chip with the same externals. That way, at worst, you won't be disappointed, and at best, you'll be surprised.

[9to5Mac]