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Photos claim to show assembled 'iPhone 5S' chassis, possibly early prototype

As Apple's annual iPhone refresh cycle draws near, the number of rumors regarding the so-called "iPhone 5S" continue to grow, the latest being a set of photos claiming to show the handset in near complete form.

The images, obtained by MacRumors, appear to show a near fully assembled next-generation iPhone, minus the display assembly. However, a closer inspection seems to yield more questions than answers.

It should be noted that AppleInsider cannot confirm the veracity of the photos, and offers the following analysis for purposes of discussion only.

iPhone 5S

Colored boxes added to original photo. Green: in line with previous "leaks;" Red: questionable content. | Original image source: MacRumors

At first glance, the image of the supposed iPhone 5S internals looks to be in line with rumored parts leaks, which include the handset's logic board, loudspeaker, SIM card tray, vibration motor, and other smaller components. Taken part by part and compared with recent rumored parts leaks, the photos appear to show either an early prototype, or a hybrid of the current iPhone 5 with components from an as yet unreleased version of Apple's smartphone.

From the top left: the vibration motor is clearly visible and has a single weight. This is counter to a recent photo that suggests the next-gen iPhone will use a dual-weight system. There is also a slight crimp in the attachment arm, which on the iPhone 5 is at a perfect 90-degree angle. This, along with the off-center contact plate, shows the motor has been previously removed, replaced, or damaged.

The logic board looks to be the same part revealed earlier this week, as seen by the display connectors, which are in a different layout compared to the iPhone 5. Photos of the alleged iPhone 5S display assembly and attached flex cables matched up with the board's connections almost perfectly, suggesting the two parts may be legitimate.

Below the display plugs is an unlabeled processor with a small Apple logo. Here, the capacitor arrangement appears to line up with the CPU, but as MacRumors notes, the screen-printed numbering suggests this chip was made in late October of 2012, a very early run for a next-gen handset. This could be evidence that the components pictured, or at least the logic board and processor, are early prototypes and not reflective of a near-final production version.

At the bottom of the picture is the speaker sitting atop flex cables belonging to the microphone and Lightning dock connector. These parts are identical to supposedly leaked components pictured earlier this month.

Finally, the battery carries markings that, if legitimate, point to a capacity of 5.92 Watt-hours. In comparison, the iPhone 5 has a 5.45 Whr unit.

iPhone 5S

Colored boxes added to original photo.

The second image allegedly shows the handset's back casing, though this photo contains details that are somewhat incongruent with a next-gen handset. For example, the model number appears to read "A1214," a designation never before seen on an iPhone. The original iPhone and iPhone 3G bore "A12XX" model numbers, while the iPhone 3GS to 4S carried numbers in the "A13XX" range. Apple's GSM version of the iPhone 4S moved into the "A14XX" tier, which continues with the current iPhone 5.

It is possible that the number seen on this particular casing reads "A1234," signifying a probable prototype, but the fourth digit is not curved and looks to be either a "1" or a "7" when enhanced.

Despite being quite blurry, the image clearly shows the much-rumored dual-flash positioned near the rear-facing camera. Interestingly, the chamfered edge on the left side of the phone is in crisp focus while the rest of the photo is not.

Taking the above into consideration, along with the visible wear and tear to the chassis, it can be speculated that the image shows an early prototype. If indeed legitimate, the part demonstrates that Apple changed very little in the way of design, and is only looking to upgrade the device's internals.