The images first appeared on Chinese site Sina Weibo and show numerous devices that match prior descriptions supposedly describing Apple's low-cost device. Notably, the devices pictured feature a black glass facade surrounding the display, an aspect that runs counter to previous renders, which have shown the device with a white face.
Some observers have suggested that such a design with black glass on the front may be meant to differentiate the device low-end iPhone from the iPod touch, which has a similar aesthetic. However, it's also possible that the image could be fake, and that the so-called "iPhone 5C" will in fact include white front glass to match the model with a white plastic back.
All of the handsets pictured feature a white back and sides. The new plastic iPhone model is expected to also come in a range of other colors, including blue, red, green, and yellow.
The image appears to show the devices' internal components of the handsets being tested ahead of final production. The picture was first publicized on Saturday by Nowhereelse.fr.
Observers expect that Apple will call its new model the "iPhone 5C" and that it will be the counterpart to Apple's flagship next-generation handset, a so-called "iPhone 5S." While the "iPhone 5S" is expected to feature the same premium materials that have typified Apple's smartphones since the iPhone 4, the "iPhone 5C" is believed to feature a polycarbonate chassis, which would lower construction costs and allow the company to offer it to a wider buying populace without sacrificing profit margins.
Some industry watchers expect that the "iPhone 5C" will replace the iPhone 5, marking a departure from Apple's usual policy of offering older models at a lower price. The low-end iPhone is expected to debut at a Sept. 10 media event, with a global launch likely coming soon after.