Whether Apple will release a budget iPhone this year is subject to no small amount of debate, but it seems almost certain that the company is at least testing one out. Which is why this rumored cheap iPhone shell, published by Tactus, could very well be legit. Whether it actually makes it into stores is another question altogether.
According to Tactus, the plastic shell is 0.4-0.6mm thick, which implies a device that's both a little wider and a little taller than the iPhone 4/4S. It's also rumored to come with a 5MP camera, a 3.5-inch retina display, an A5 chip, and color options of the black, white, blue, yellow, and blue variety.
Are we looking at the actual real-deal budget iPhone shell? There's plenty of reason to be skeptical. While the image above certainly looks like it would fit in with Apple's product line, it could also very easily just be a mock-up based on previous rumors. Tactus is, after all, a case-maker, so it makes sense that it would have its own dummy prototypes lying around. And that it would try to drum up a little business for itself by making headlines.
But ultimately, none of that might matter. Even if this isn't the exact iPhone shell, it's almost certainly a good approximation, if the many, many rumors are near their target. More importantly, though, the question of what a budget iPhone looks like could well be a moot point. Is Apple experimenting with one? Of course. But that doesn't mean it will release it. Especially when its current model is one of the most popular consumer products in recent history.