With Apple expected to unveil the long-rumored iPad mini in a few short weeks, we anticipate component leaks for the smaller slate to start picking up.

In fact, some photos started floating around this afternoon of what appear to be rear shells belonging to the highly anticipated tablet. But are they real?

Apple.pro was first to publish these photos, which were recently discovered on the often-mentioned Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo.

The most notable detail about these images is that the shells do not have an opening for a rear camera. This directly conflicts with the claimed iPad mini cases we’ve seen pop up over the past few weeks, which have all had camera openings.

On top of that conflict, there are some other things that lead us to believe these aren’t the real deal. So we’re thinking there are two possibilities: the first, and the most likely, is that these shells are fake — made by some third party manufacturer to capitalize on the anticipation for the tablet. Or two, they could be a part of Apple’s prototyping process, as it tries to deduce the most efficient way to make the slate.

For the record, we haven’t heard any reports that the iPad mini has gone into production yet. So while we might see the tablet unveiled at the September 12 event, it may not go on sale until several weeks later. And with this in mind, it’s possible that even the folks at Apple don’t know for sure what features the final design is going to have. The company has been known to tweak product details at the last minute.

At any rate, like most part leaks, take this all with a grain of salt. We just want to know one thing, would you buy the iPad mini if it didn’t have a camera? As in, do you think it needs one?