According to a Foxconn source cited by 9to5Mac, the wild guesses about the iPhone 5′s looks can come to an end — this tipster claims to have seen the prototype of the next Apple handset!

So what did the person see? The same size and shape as the iPhone 4, just like others have indicated. Within this size parameter, the device sported a larger, 4-inch edge-to-edge screen, which also matches previous rumors, as well as a metal back panel. So what was allegedly on view was pretty much a mash-up of most of the recent rumors in one prototype.

The original iPhone had an aluminum back (which, personally, was my favorite rear design thus far). It was replaced by plastic in the 3G and 3GS, likely to improve reception, before turning into the infamous glass panel many of us carry around today in our iPhone 4s.

That version, as everyone knows, got slammed last year because of antenna issues. So I think some sort of antenna redesign or tweak is pretty much a sure thing here — but that doesn’t mean Apple moved them.

If they remain on the sides of the phone somehow, it opens up some possibilities… like maybe a return to the best iPhone backing they ever had. And since Apple’s a sucker for uniformity, it makes sense to redesign it to match its MacBook line, not to mention its iPod Touch and iPad collections.

Some people think the fabrication could be Liquid Metal, but frankly, if Apple’s heading in this direction at all, my guess is on aluminum. (Cupertino’s just not known for making enormous leaps in design year after year. So if Liquid Metal’s coming at all, my guess is that it will be in the next next handset or after… but I would love to eat my words.)

As for whether the backing will be rounded or flat, the Foxconn source pegs it as flat. In our estimation, we figure it could look something like this third-party metal backing I installed in a previous video:

Foxconn Source

And the front really might look similar to the mockups that have been floating around for weeks now.

Foxconn Source “I Saw The IPhone 5 Prototype!”

I Saw The IPhone 5 Prototype

No word on internals, like processor (though it’s expected to have the same dual-core goodness of the iPad 2), 4G capability and/or dual-mode cellular support.

In conclusion… well, do I need to say it? Always take this kind of stuff for what it is— unconfirmed reports from an anonymous source who doesn’t have photos to back up the story.

So barring another prototype popping up in the wild, we won’t really know what will arrive until announcement day. But until then, let us know what you think so far. Would you wait in line for this handset, or pass it by in anticipation of the iPhone 6?

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