Over the weekend, 9to5Mac, an Apple blog, posted a video of what looks to be physical representations of this year’s upcoming iPhone models.
The short video shows two physical iPhone mockups. One looks like a larger version of the iPhone X, and the other looks like what enthusiasts have been calling the iPhone “9 ” — a less expensive model with an edge-to-edge 6.1-inch screen.
What they depict lines up pretty closely with what analysts and journalists expect from the 2018 iPhone lineup, which will probably be launched in September. There’s one difference: these phones don’t turn on. There’s a hole through the dummies in the video.
Apple watchers are expecting three new iPhones this year: One that looks like the iPhone X but with updated components, a super-sized version of the iPhone X, and a less expensive iPhone with an edge-to-edge LCD screen and facial recognition that costs between $649 and $749.
Check out the dummies:
Here’s what’s going on. These units are called “dummies.” They typically don’t work — they’re simply a plastic hunk that looks like a future iPhone. Some are 3D-printed, and some are molded like a consumer product.
What these dummies suggest is that there is a CAD file or other digital description of this year’s iPhones that has been leaked or created based on leaks. Two people who have seen a file describing one of this year’s supposed iPhones told Business Insider that it leaked in early June.
The iPhone design is locked down by June ahead of an expected September launch, so people inside Apple and at Apple’s partner factories know what the iPhones are going to look like. Factories have already gone through design and some production testing, and are preparing to ramp up to mass production in order build tens of millions of phones by September.
These dummies are not confirmed to be accurate; Apple does not comment on future products. But Business Insider bought a dummy from Ebay last year in August for $45 that closely matched nearly every dimension on the iPhone X that was announced a month later.
It’s a little bit unclear what the purpose of the dummies is beyond being cool. Some case manufacturers use them to make sure they have cases ready to sell the day the new iPhones go on sale. In the above video, there are cases on the dummy phones. On Ebay, sometimes the seller suggests they can be used as a stand-in for real phones at a retail store.
Whether the dummies shared with 9to5Mac by Shaimizrachi end up being accurate remains to be seen. But dummies are now a core part of the iPhone rumor cycle, and they also look way better than a random iPhone part in a YouTube video. In the past few years, dummies have popped up in July and August before the September iPhone launch.