A supplier told that site that a device had gone missing from the Foxconn factory in the Shenzhen Futian district. The prototype was disguised in a case to make it look like the current device. It was apparently a test model with a finalized iPhone 5 teardrop chassis but only had slightly modified iPhone 4 internals.
With its past experience, one might think Apple would have been able to track that prototype down in a heartbeat. However, Apple was outsmarted. The person who had access to the prototype wiped the phone's software, thus disabling the GPS hardware needed to track it down. It was then allegedly sold to one of the iPhone case manufacturers for RMB ¥20,000 (about $3,100). We were told that Foxconn was aware of the loss and had penalized internal management for the incident. We also heard from another source that the person who "lost" it was paid to do so. This case is similar to the iPad 2 leak reported back in June, where three men were jailed for stealing unreleased information about the Apple tablet.
M.I.C. Gadgets says the design could really be the finalized one since case manufacturers must be very certain of their source to have shipped "thousands" of them already.
As far as we know, producing a mold for silicone cases costs tens of thousands of RMB and a mold for hard plastic cases costs even more. From the sheer variety of such cases already available for purchase, we are very sure that one or more of these case manufacturers have access to what is believed to be the prototype of the iPhone 5 with the finalized design. It is not simply getting tipped on the dimensions and shapes of the next iPhone to make the molds.
Take a look at the video below which shows a detailed comparison of the old iPhone 4 design and the rumored teardrop design.
Read More [via Luke]