"We were told this is a prototype back piece for the fifth-generation iPad with a 9.7-inch display," writes the 9 to 5 Mac team, citing an anonymous source at an iPad accessories maker based in China. "We were also told that the casing is almost as thin as the iPad Mini’s back."
As Mashable notes, the back piece in question does very much resemble the back piece on the iPad Mini. It's black and a little boxy and there's that iridescent black Apple logo. If the photos are the real deal – and Apple isn't commenting one way or another – it likely means that the next iPad will be slimmer, lighter, and easier to hold than all the iPads that came before.
In related news, a day after we reported on rumors of an "Ultimate iPad," Apple officially released a 128GB version of its fourth-generation tablet. Priced at $799 for the Wi-Fi edition and $929 Wi-Fi and Cellular model, the device is geared at professional users, including "enterprises, educators, and artists," Apple said in statement.