Fake Photos

Update: The creator of these images has spoken out on Twitter, confirming that he made them in Adobe Illustrator:


Chinese site Tencent Digital [translated link] has posted photos of what they claim to be the iPhone 5S’s official packaging, as well as a shot of the device itself, revealing the much-rumored dual-LED flash. Also of notable interest in the photos is the “128GB” capacity marking on the alleged packaging, lining up with previous rumors… According to our analysis, these photos (above) are absolutely fake. However, they have unfortunately begun making the rounds online.

As we near Apple’s September 10th iPhone event, it would seem plausible to see packaging for Apple’s next iPhone making the rounds, but further analysis has proved the above photos to be fakes. This isn’t the first time fake iPhone packaging has leaked- in fact, just last month, these photos of “iPhone 5C” boxes were determined to likely be fakes as well. With some detective work, we can see how the above photos were faked:


Adjusting the contrast and brightness levels on this image reveals a clear inconsistent edge around the capacity marking on the box. Additionally, the poor kerning, darkened numbers and varying character height of the text all provide clear reason to doubt the legitimacy of the photo.

iPhone 5S

It’s pretty easy to spot the problem in this photo. After inverting the colors, you can easily tell that the the text color of “iPhone 5” is noticeably different than the color of the “S,” suggesting the conclusion that these photos likely depict a altered iPhone 5 box. The angle of the “S” text also appears to be slightly different than the body of the text.

iPhone 5S box

In this final photo of the iPhone’s packaging, its immediately obvious that the front of the box is no more than Apple’s press shot for iOS 7, visible right on the front page of Apple.com.  Of course, the photo had to be rotated to fit the orientation of the box, and when compared to the real photo with proper exposure, you can see just how out of place the image looks, since in its correct orientation, the phone is laying horizontally on a surface.

Finally, if you observe the edges of the box, it appears that this image was little more than a print out of Apple’s photo glued onto a black box.

LED Flash

Finally, we come to the iPhone’s LED flash. Using a tool called error level analysis, which can pick out differences in image compression, we see a noticeable area of suspicion around the iPhone’s flash, indicating alteration.

While this leak turned out to be false, it lines up well with recent predictions for the iPhone 5S, and is likely similar, if nothing else, to what we’ll see this fall.

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About the Author

Michael Steeber

Michael is a Creative Editor who covered Apple Retail and design on 9to5Mac. His stories highlighted the work of talented artists, designers, and customers through a unique lens of architecture, creativity, and community.

Contact Michael on Twitter to share Apple Retail, design, and history stories: @MichaelSteeber