At the beginning of this week, we really had no idea what Apple’s iPhone 5 might look like. A number of previous rumors have claimed the device will sport a fancy new redesign, making the device thinner and lighter; while many others claimed it would look identical to the iPhone 4 but with a few changed to the internals. We didn’t know which rumor to put our money on!

However, over the last few days, a number of reports give us some reason to believe that the fifth-generation iPhone won’t look like it’s predecessor at all. Firstly, there’s those case designs that surfaced on Wednesday that were accompanied by a Target ad — both of which signal the device may be thinner with tapered edges similar to those on the iPhone 3GS.

Then, on Thursday, images of a green silicon case purportedly made for the iPhone 5 surfaced — tying in nicely with the stories from the previous day. But don’t think this week’s iPhone 5 stories are going to stop there! One 9to5 Mac reader has provided two photos of what he believes to be the iPhone 5 in the hands of an Apple employee:

Last evening, a tipster sent us some pictures of what he now thinks is the iPhone 5.  He caught what he said was likely an Apple employee hunched over the device on the way home from work in San Francisco earlier this week.  He told us he was able to get a very good look at the device but the pictures he snapped “didn’t do it justice”.

According to 9to5 Mac, their ‘tipster’ snapped these photos on his way home having suspected the device was unlike any other iPhone. However, he didn’t really believe what he had seen was “legitimate” until he saw those green silicon cases that were pictured yesterday. “Then it all came together for him.”

It’s hard to tell from these photos just exactly what this device looks like. To me, it looks just like a black iPhone 3GS, though I do admit that it seems a little too thin to be Apple’s third-generation device. The tipster is also adamant that this was unlike anything he’d seen before — and he has reportedly owned both the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4.

He also described the device’s display as “almost Evo-like” in size, and wider than any other iPhone. He notes that the gentleman holding the device continually tried to cover up the Apple logo on the back, and “was trying to hide what he had more than the average smartphone user.”

Apple is notoriously secretive about its unannounced devices, having been known to hide them inside cases fashioned to look like existing products. However, after that famous ‘Antennagate‘ fiasco, some believe Apple will be testing the device without disguise in order to diagnose antenna problems ahead of time.

What do you think about these images? When I saw the first one, I was sure it was an iPhone 3GS that just looked a little thinner in that particular photo. However, when I look closely at the second image, the device doesn’t seem as rounded as the 3GS, but it’s certainly not as square as the iPhone 4 — and has no steel band around the edge.

[via 9to5 Mac]