Flurry of iPhone 4S/5 Case Leaks Fail To Confirm Next Form Factor

A series of leaked photos and screen shots of evidence that cases for the iPhone 4S and/or 5 have appeared on all of the top iPhone 5 rumor sites recently. Do they confirm anything about what to expect next week?

In less than 24 hours, the iPhone 5 rumor mill has been aflame with several sightings of iPhone 4S/5 cases showing up on AT&T’s databases and inventory. As usual, the photos themselves all feature inconclusive evidence of their validity — and as a whole, the photos and screen shots contradict one another as to whether the new form factor of the iPhone will be a refresh of the iPhone 4 or an overhauled design.

iphone 5 AT&T inventory management system

BGRr's new alleged screen shot of AT&T's inventory management system. How would we know?

Each new article and their corresponding photos bear scrutiny.

The first of these new AT&T iPhone 5 case sightings began yesterday afternoon, when BGR posted a shoddy photo of what purports to be a screen from AT&T’s inventory management system, stating without any question, “We’ve just been sent an image of AT&T’s inventory system, and iPhone 5 cases are starting to appear ahead of the device’s launch some time next month. Case-mate, the company that slipped up earlier this month and posted iPhone 5 cases and renders before quickly removing them after we published the images, is the manufacturer of this first round of cases in AT&T’s system.” Bear in mind that this is the same BGR that discredited itself with its report of a bogus Best Buy manager’s document that purported a Labor day iPhone 5 announcement with an early October launch.

The new BGR screen shot also has the same problem as the Techno Buffalo Best Buy screen shot from a a week or so ago: there is nothing on the screen shot that confirms this is AT&T’s inventory management system — anyone with Microsoft Excel could fabricate such a list.

We’ve talked about the Case-Mate publicity stunt already, and the cynic in me believes this to be a cheap way of riding the tail-end of it.

iphone 5 case-mate case

MacRumors' claims that this case is now in AT&T's inventory.

Of course, BGR fanboys (do they exist?) eager to prove them right would point me to exhibit B, a new report from MacRumors showing that one of those cool Case-Mate iPhone 5 cases that popped up a couple of weeks ago — the one that looks like it was cut from a bicycle tire — is now showing up at AT&T stores. MacRumors states: “We now have evidence that cases for the rumored iPhone 5 redesign have already begun arriving at AT&T retail stores, as one reader has sent us alleged photos of iPhone 5 silicone sleeves that appear to have arrived at his AT&T store today. Like other cases for the rumored redesign of the iPhone 5, these cases appear to show a tapered design and the mute switch moved to the opposite side of the device.”

They fail to make it clear if the photo they have posted is supposed to be one of the Case-Mate cases that we saw briefly on their website — the writing is a bit “stream of consciousness” to connect point A to point B. But it would be my assumption that MacRumors is at least trying to imply that this is the Case-Mate Vroom — even though they know it looks nothing like the one we saw from Case-Mate, depicted here. Furthermore, the package that this case is in doesn’t look anything like a Case-Mate blister pack. In fact, it has no brand name at all — it’s in a package that you’d find at a dollar store. Again, one can imagine a bored, unemployed tech geek fabricating a case meant to leverage the hype of the Case-Mate leak.

Interestingly enough, there are also some rumored iPhone 4S cases now kicking around the rumor mill as well. Back on September 22nd, BGR gave us a glimpse at what they claim is a modified iPhone 4 case. They explain: “BGR has obtained images of refreshed iPhone 4 cases that have started to show up at AT&T corporate stores around the country, and there’s one noticeable difference: the size of the opening for the rear camera. If Apple is introducing a so-called “iPhone 4S” — an iPhone 4 in practically the same case with upgraded internals and a better camera mobile — then the camera sensor will be larger than the existing one on the current iPhone 4 model.”

iphone 4s speck case

BGR's purported iPhone 4S Speck Case

When you think about it, it’s ironic that BGR published this photo and story last week, and then yesterday posted the AT&T screen shot, which says nothing about the iPhone 4S. Only the iPhone 5 rumor mill could make this kind of logic work.

The funny thing about this iPhone 4S photo is that it is of a Speck case. Didn’t we just hear from Speck Products’ VP of Marketing about how they still don’t have any completed designs for the next iPhone, and that they’re waiting to see it just as we are? If that is the case, then why are we staring at a Speck case that purports to be for the iPhone 4S?

Over the past months, I’ve written several articles that seek to discredit the appearance of iPhone 5 cases, but I don’t now if I’ve ever articulated why I don’t believe any of them. The reason is simple: no one in the consumer electronics accessories industry conclusively knows what the next iPhone will look like until it is released. No matter how much insider information they receive, how could an iPhone case company run the risk of investing tons of its resources into an iPhone design based on information that does not come directly from the mouth of Apple? We’ve already seen how deft counterfeiters can be when it comes to making fake images. How could a company like Case-Mate, Speck, or any other risk being wrong by producing cases before the official announcement?

Rather, I believe that the “iPhone 5 case” has become a relatively easy way for the tech community to fabricate iPhone news and ratchet up excitement — all of which makes them more money. It’s not that difficult to produce the glut of images, case, and screen shots that we’ve seen over the past months. Whether the tech sites are merely complicit in these schemes or actual conspirators, one will never know.

By Michael Nace



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