Is This The iPhone 5?

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iPhone fans, start drooling. Skeptics, have your grains of salt at the ready. An iPhone 5 — or at least something closely fitting the rumored description of the iPhone 5 — has just been spotted… on a train, of all places.

The shot up above (and the ever-so-slightly-different one below) comes from 9to5Mac, who received them from a tipster who claims to have spotted the device on his way home from work.

Alas, these two just-too-far-away glimpses are as good as it gets for now. While most news reporter-types out there would run through a pack of angry charging bulls and scale a building covered in butter for a shot of the iPhone 5, the tipster seems to have practiced at least a bit of caution in their undercover photography session. The person holding the device was supposedly being quite cautious to keep it at least partially covered, masking the Apple logo behind their fingers throughout.

Fortunately, their eyes worked a bit better than their camera. Here’s what they had to share about the purported prototype:

  • This was not an iPhone 4 or 3GS, they say. The tipster previously owned both, and was positive it was nothing they’d ever seen before.
  • It supposedly has an “almost EVO-like screen”, which fits with the long-living rumor that the next iPhone has an edge-to-edge display. Now, the EVO has a 4.3″ display — and unless Apple is planning on making the next iPhone considerably bigger, I’m doubting the iPhone 5’s display will get nearly that huge. My sources long ago told me to expect something in the 3.7″ – 3.75″ range. With next to no bezel, though, a 3.7″ display could look much bigger from a distance than it actually is.
  • Rounded metal (as opposed to square) edges, with what appeared to be a tapered, black glass back — just as the rumor mill has been saying for months

Could this be the real deal? It’s plausible. The iPhone 5 is said to be coming in just over a month (sometime in September), which means there absolutely are iPhone 5s out there, right this second, being field tested. Apple can install as many cell towers on their campus as they want, but it’s nearly impossible to release a phone without testing its signal attenuation and performance in the real world. After Antennagate, you can bet that Apple is going to make damned sure that the iPhone 5 has rock solid signal performance.

With that said, think back to the lost iPhone 4 prototype. At first glance, it looked just like an iPhone 3GS — because Apple had disguised it as one. A special case was made just to mask the new hardware as something not worth a second glance. Would Apple really let an iPhone 5 prototype lurk about in public in the nude? Maybe in the back of a blacked out van — but on what looks to be something like CalTrain? Doubtful.

Also doubtful: where the heck is the camera flash? While my geek side would love for this to be an iPhone 5, my skeptic side is saying it’s a 3GS shot from a strange angle.

What say you? Real? Photoshop? Just a really fancy fake from China? Weigh in down in the comments.