A picture showing a flex cable claimed to be from the next iPod touch was spotted on Thursday by Letem Svetem Applem. The cable is said to connect the lock and volume buttons on the top of the device to the internal hardware.
The part does not suggest what, if any, changes may be made to a new model this year. In the past, Apple has used components from last year's iPhone model to power the latest iPod touch, which would give a rumored sixth-gen model an A6 processor.
Last year, the iPod touch was given its most significant redesign in some time, adding a taller 4-inch Retina display, and also including a wrist strap that attaches to a retracting "Loop" holder on the back of the device.
Apple also issued a surprise update in May when it introduced an entry-level 16-gigabyte iPod touch for $229, lacking the wrist strap or rear facing iSight camera. It also lacks the color options of the higher-capacity models, being offered in just black-on-silver. That model replaced a legacy fifth-generation 16-gigabyte version Apple had previously offered.
Though the iPod lineup is no longer a major part of Apple's overall business, the company has repeatedly said that the iPod touch accounts for more than half of all iPod sales. The device also serves as an important entry-level iOS device for the company, offering access to the App Store and iOS ecosystem for an entry price of $229, without the need for a smartphone contract or data plan.