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A new series of over a dozen photos that showed up on a Chinese technology website last week are claimed to show both the internals an externals of an unknown iPhone model rolling off the assembly lines at Apple's Taiwanese manufacturing partner Foxconn.
The fourteen photos published by sjbbs.zol.com show trays of iPhone 5-like faceplates making their way through an assembly line, in addition to several shots of the internal componentry of the unknown models. Thus far, one discernible difference between the model shown in the photos and the existing iPhone 5 is the presence of a slightly different motor for facilitating the handset's vibration mode.
While the backside of the device in the photos is completely obscured, the frame and bezel of the device is visible and largely reminiscent to the one employed by the iPhone 5. If the photos are indeed genuine, they could imply that Apple has chosen to address with the iPhone 5S a much-criticized move on its part that saw the iPhone 5 employ a rotational motor, which has proven noisier than the "quieter and less annoying" linear oscillating vibrator found in the iPhone 4S.
On the flip side, there's been at least one effort by the folks over at nowhereelse.fr to debunk the images as inauthentic, publishing an annotated version of one of the photos that suggests the device in the images is simply a well-designed iPhone clone. Kyle Wiens, one of the tear-down experts over at iFixIt, raised similar doubt that the images portray a genuine iPhone devices, telling AppleInsiderthat "the internals don't look like something Apple would build."
A rudimentary analysis of that image by AppleInsider contributors found similar reason for concern but could not definitively rule out the possibility that the pictured devices could be early engineering validation test (EVT) units. At the very least, the photos could show a rare glimpse inside Foxconn's manufacturing facilities during a product run of an iPhone-like device.
The photos also surface amid a chorus of reports that suggest Apple is gearing up to begin preliminary builds of a so-called iPhone 5S as early as next month. Photos of components allegedly bound for this model, in addition to a rumored iPhone 6 also rumored for 2013, turned up a few weeks earlier.
Separately, there's also been increased talk of a lower-cost, lightweight iPhone that would include lower-cost components, a plastic enclosure and be targeted at price-sensitive emerging markets like China and India for around $300. This device would presumably be an addition to the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6, both of which are believed to be enclosed in more costly aluminum bodies.