So far we've seen several purported part leaks for both the iPhone 5S - or whatever Apple calls the 2013 generation iPhone - and the heavily rumored less expensive iPhone model. Riki Baker over at mendmyi managed to get his hands on one of the supposed "budget" iPhone housings and found that certain components previously assumed to be for the iPhone 5S might actually belong to a "budget" iPhone instead. Here's why:
Thanks to Chinese resellers, supposed plastic iPhone casings have been cropping up a lot recently, some with different quality levels than others. Baker claims many of the earlier, green iPhone casings were derived from the unit in his possession, which may give him unique insight into the veracity and specificity of the "leaks" now making their way across the internet.
In regards to the quality of the housing itself, Baker had this to say:
The build quality is better than the 3GS and feels genuinely sturdy. The glass on the front sits completely flush when fitted, not raised slightly like the iPhone 5. This could improve the phones integral strength and reduce the chance of the glass breaking when dropped.
Baker also noted that display assemblies that have leaked, one that were attributed to the iPhone 5S, appear to fit the "budget" iPhone housing yet do not line up with the current iPhone 5. As you can see from the photos above, the iPhone 5 display doesn't fit the indents in the plastic housing but the rumored iPhone 5S indents appear to line up correctly. That could mean the parts were previously misidentified.
More interesting yet, a leaked logic board that was believed to belong to the iPhone 5S actually lines up with the screw mounts of the less expensive iPhone housing, as you can see below. While the board is somewhat similar to the board found in the current iPhone 5, it does have some variations, particularly screw placement.
Baker lined up several iPhone 5 components and analyzed some of the other small leaked iPhone 5S cables, but said they don't appear to fit either.
The headphone jack holes don't line up and the dock connector has been tweaked slightly. The holes don't seem to line up with 'leaked' parts - the right hole of the headphone jack doesn't appear to fit either.
This could mean that either these component cables are indeed for the next flagship iPhone or they were simply earlier protypes that were either scrapped or have changed over time.
Back to the housing. Baker does admit that they could be nothing considering the source he acquired them from is owned by the same person who owns and operates iPhone5mod. They're known to have access to manufacturing facilities with the capability of producing parts like these all on their own.
I share Baker's skepticism, given the source. However, we both also agree that the build quality is undeniably good - better than what some real manufacturers have turned out in real, shipped products - which could lend some legitimacy to the claims.
We'll have to wait for more leaks to get a more complete picture, and of course we'll only know for sure when Tim Cook or Phil Schiller hold the next iPhone - or iPhones - up on stage.