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Image leaks of lower-cost iPhone with plastic case

The alleged image shows a white iPhone with a plastic backing, following earlier reports that Apple might try to sell a cheaper handset without the aluminum finish in its previous devices.

Apple's iPhone 5 makes use of aluminum and ceramics.
Josh Lowensohn/CNET

A plastic, cheaper iPhone might be a reality, after all.

After rumors surfaced recently suggesting Apple would launch a thicker, cheaper, plastic iPhone, an image seeming to be just that device has hit the Web. Earlier today, mobile case maker Tactus shared a photo of what it claims is the rear, plastic casing on Apple's next iPhone.

It's not clear how Tactus might have received the casing or whether it's real, but it follows a rumor in February from Japanese Apple-news site Macotakara, which claimed that a cheaper, plastic iPhone was on the way to store shelves.

According to Macotakara's sources, the device also would be thicker than Apple's current iPhones. The image shown by Tactus seems to follow that.

Still, despite the possibility of Apple launching a plastic iPhone sometime this year, it's entirely separate from the next iteration in the company's flagship line. Later this year, and perhaps as early as this summer, Apple could launch a follow-up to the iPhone 5. Rumors suggest that device will be called the iPhone 5S and come with improved processing and graphical power and, perhaps, a larger screen.

For its part, Apple hasn't confirmed that any device is in the works, so as with all rumors about the company and its plans, this latest photo should be taken with a hefty heaping of salt. Apple's latest line of thinking on design has been delivering an aluminum finish. Whether the company would want to waver from that this year or next remains to be seen.

(Via MacRumors)