iPad Pro backplate (Weibo 001)

With all the talk surrounding Apple’s next iPhone(s), the rumor mill appears to have neglected the iPad Pro meme. Last we heard about the purported device was nearly two months ago when a DigiTimes story asserted a 12.9-inch iPad would see the light of day in the second half of this year.

And then, silence. Until today, that is. A user on the Chinese microblogging service Weibo has posted a photo that appears to depict a backplate of an obscenely large form-factor iPad…

The Weibo post was first spotted by French blog NowhereElse.fr [Google translate].

The image appears genuine, judging by the Apple logo etched on the aluminum backplate. Also, the iSight camera hole seems to be just in the right place. I’m not entirely convinced, however – this part just seems ridiculously oversized to my.

This immediately comes to mind.

iPad Pro (fun pic 001)
Image via Panic co-founder Steven Frank.

For all we know, this could be one of the backplates the firm was possibly testing in the past in order to determine the best form-factor for full-size iPads. Or, it could be a part for a Chinese iPad knock off.

And even if the part is genuine, there are no guarantees that the iPad Pro will be hit the market just yet because Apple tends to test several designs before deciding on a final form factor.

On the other hand, with upcoming new iPhones thought to be moving into the phablet territory, it would make sense to add a large iPad to the stable. Apple CEO Tim Cook has already proved to the world he has no religious issues branching into multiple form factors (hint: iPad mini).

Therefore, an iPad Pro does remain a viable possibility.

Besides, Samsung has been promoting its 13-inch Galaxy Pro tablets rather successfully and they have a tablet event scheduled for June 12, just ten days after Apple’s WWDC keynote, which makes me think Apple has a few aces up its sleeve in terms of large-form factor iOS devices.

And with iOS 8 apparently set to bring a split-screen multitasking mode to iPads (landscape only), what better device to exclusively showcase this feature than an iPad Pro_

So what do you guys think?

Could this be the real part or is it just an elaborate hoax?