updated 04:40 pm EDT, Tue September 27, 2011
iPhone 5 design possibly slipped by Foxconn staff
The glut of iPhone 5 cases with a similar design may have come from yet another backroom deal for a prototype. A rumor passed along to MIC Gadget alleged that a chassis had been "lost," or more likely sold off through a bribe, near Foxconn's factory in the Futian district of Shenzhen. One case manufacturer allegedly paid the equivalent of $3,124 to get access and, before long, led to many others in the area having access to the same information.
The model in question was supposedly intended to test the ergonomics of the design and not the components. A look inside allegedly showed just a modest change to the regular A4-based iPhone 4. Even with these old components, the device may have been enclosed in a case that made it look like an iPhone 4 to throw off curious observers.
"Thousands" of the cases have been made by some of the companies involved, according to the stories.
While the story is unverified, it lines up with a widely known practice in the area. Foxconn staff were thought to have leaked out the iPad 2's dimensions to case makers months ahead of time and were eventually arrested. Many of the companies wanting access to the design, often small startups just outside of Foxconn's factories, see the risks as worth having cases on the market well ahead of those waiting for official blueprints.
All of the cases released in recent weeks have shown a virtually identical design. Although a third thinner than the iPhone 4, it's wider and noticeably taller than the current design, a strong indication that Apple is using a bigger screen if the frame is accurate.