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Purported 'iPhone 5' cases proliferate in China ahead of expected Sept. launch

Chinese case makers have begun distributing cases allegedly for Apple's next-generation iPhone, with one report calling the cases "everywhere in China."

Earlier this week a schematic emerged claiming to show Apple's new design for the so-called iPhone 5 M.I.C Gadget now reports that the alleged iPhone 5 cases are "everywhere in China now."

One vendor is selling the silicon cases on Chinese trade site for 2CNY ($0.31) each with a minimum order of 500 pieces. Similar to the images published earlier this week, the cases feature curved sides and locate the vibrate switch on the opposite side of last year's iPhone 4 design.

The case designs contradict some pre-existing rumors regarding Apple's next-generation smartphone. In May, parts (1, 2) allegedly for the fifth-generation iPhone suggested that Apple would move the camera flash away from the rear-camera. But, the cases being distributed in China place the flash component in the same location.

A number of reports had also suggested that the next iPhone would contain only "slight modifications" from the iPhone 4, with some calling the next device the "iPhone 4GS."

Chinese case manufacturers have in the past been the source of leaks of upcoming Apple products, such as the iPad 2. Last year, Foxconn reportedly became suspicious of the accuracy of leaked cases for the then-unreleased second-generation iPad and reported the issue to local police.

Last December, three Foxconn employees were arrested for allegedly leaking the design of the iPad 2 to accessory companies in China. This June, a court sentenced two former Foxconn employees and a manager at an accessories manufacturer and to prison terms. Court documents show that the employees were paid 20,000CNY ($3107) to provide advance digital images of the touchscreen tablet.

Apple is expected to introduce the next-generation iPhone this fall, with recent rumors pegging the launch for mid-September. The device is believed to include the new A5 processor, a dual-mode baseband chip and an 8-megapixel camera.