Internet thirsty for rumors sees 'iPhone 8' mirage in generic smartphone case

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Silly season is officially in full swing. On Monday, blogs lit up when Evan Blass, known for his accurate smartphone hardware leaks, joined the "iPhone 8" rumor fray by posting an image of a digitally rendered device enshrouded in what appears to be an Urban Armor Gear case. Rumor mongers are interpreting the "leak" to mean case makers are betting on designs that show off iPhone's entire screen...just like every smartphone case ever made.

Aside from what is clearly a computer generated rendering of an "iPhone 8," likely created based on the latest rumors and recent HomePod firmware leak, there is exceedingly little to learn from Blass' post. All we can hope to glean from the ruggedized accessory is that case makers are betting Apple keeps the location of iPhone's physical volume rocker and mute switch largely unchanged from current models.

The case itself is designed like any current snug-fit smartphone accessory: a thin protective sleeve that wraps around everything except for the screen. Exceptions to the rule are weatherproof cases that integrate transparent display covers, essentially encapsulating a device in rubber and plastic (or in some cases, glass). Those models usually sport specialized cutouts to enable interact with iPhone's Touch ID home button, IR sensor, camera and loudspeaker.

If the case in today's "leak" claimed to be a weatherproof model, or included a screen protector, that lacked contingencies for Touch ID, it would be worth talking about. It does not. We don't even get a glimpse of its backside, where a vertically mounted iSight camera is rumored to reside.

Beyond an obvious dearth of new information, the leak's validity is also in question. Benjamin Geskin, another leaker who just this year gained notoriety for posting alleged "iPhone 8" schematics and parts, responded to Blass' post by saying the UAG case image uses assets pilfered from renderings posted to his Twitter feed in June. Geskin provides a side-by-side comparison as proof, and the similarity is indeed uncanny.

Both images feature a prominent sensor "notch" positioned at the top center of iPhone's screen. More telling, though, are lens reflections, which upon closer inspection are identical in both shots.

The sensor notch design, thought to accommodate a 3D-sensing FaceTime camera, loudspeaker and ambient light sensor, has been seen multiple times in supposed component leaks. Most recently, Apple itself gave the clearest indication that the unusual bezel design will ship out to consumers.

Last week, the company inadvertently released a HomePod firmware chock full of software clues relating to new and upcoming products. In fact, one of the first bits of info to come out of the HomePod payload was a line drawing of an unknown iPhone model, complete with telltale sensor notch.

In any case, circumstantial evidence strongly suggests the "iPhone 8" seen in Blass' image is either a well done illustration or an amalgamation of component leaks and renderings. Take that away and we are left with a case that could feasibly fit any candybar-style smartphone sporting side-mounted audio controls.

Move along, nothing to see here.