We know. You’ve heard this already. In fact, it would be downright crazy for Apple to not hold an iPhone announcement in the next few weeks.

The difference this time around is that two Apple employees in Cupertino have told The New York Times that a “fairly different” iPhone 5 is “just weeks away” from launch. Now we’re getting somewhere…

We’re just weeks away from the announcement of the new Apple iPhone 5, according to an Apple employee who asked not to be named because he was not allowed to speak publicly for the company.”

A credible accessory maker for the iPhone temporarily published what it claimed to be iPhone 5 cases earlier today.

It’s unusual for a company like Case-Mate to pull such a stunt, and the fact that the case renders were quickly pulled hints at their authenticity.

The New York Times has been told by one of its sources inside Apple that the case leaks from earlier today were most likely legitimate:

“From descriptions I’ve heard of the new iPhone from Apple employees, the images seemed potentially authentic. But it seems that Case-Mate might be sneakily trying to take advantage of the excitement over the phone by posting and then unposting the images. These things rarely happen accidentally, especially when it comes to new Apple products.

Sneaky public relations tactics aside, an engineer familiar with the new iPhone said it would be fairly different from the iPhone 4 — including on the inside.”

The source goes on to say that the next iPhone will have a 8 megapixel camera, with either this model or the next sporting a new Qualcomm chip with NFC communications technology for mobile payments. The NFC tech is expected to work with users’ iTunes accounts for authentication and processing transactions.

Apple’s next event can’t come fast enough!