updated 11:15 am EDT, Thu September 6, 2012
Part may come from Foxconn's Shenzhen factory
A new set of photos posted at a Chinese site, NetEase, depict what is allegedly a rear shell for Apple's upcoming mini iPad model. The part notably bears some traits of the iPhone 5, specifically dual grills on the base and a new, smaller dock connector port. If authentic, the back appears to be for a Wi-Fi model, since it's missing a SIM slot and room for the plastic window Apple uses to cover 3G/4G receivers.
The back is visibly less tapered than the one for the third-generation iPad. That could be a necessary compromise, since shrinking the tablet down would likely force Apple to use all available space for internal electronics. It's difficult to judge the exact size of the leaked part, but Apple is believed to be working on a 7.85-inch design, making it slightly larger than tablets like the Kindle Fire or the Nexus 7.
When Apple might announce the new hardware is uncertain. Previously it was assumed the tablet would show up at a September 12th iPhone event, but in late August claims began circulating that Apple will use a separate October event. Although Apple usually avoids hosting multiple press conferences in the same season, it may not want to drown out one device's publicity in favor of another; staggering launches would also make the burden easier on Apple's manufacturing partners.