A posting on the forums of website WeiPhone has included a controversial photo of a product bin holding a pile of plastic cases about the same size as the iPhone's current paper packaging. They're labeled "iPhone 5C."
There is no way to know if these are genuine photos of a genuine plastic case made for Apple, or whether they're a trick or from some sort of iPhone knockoff product. But since the rumors are now running wild about the name, it's worth looking at the photos in detail.
Firstly, the iPod and many other Apple products are sold in plastic jewel cases with a strong design that's very "Apple." Though the case seen in the photo has rounded edges on its rear, it's perfectly possible the company would use a new design to launch a new product. Any such case may even use the same biodegradable technology Apple has in its EarPod packaging since late 2012. That would earn the company some eco brownie points. Attractive iPhone packaging could also make the phone stand out on the shelves if it's going to be displayed alongside other mid-range smartphones (we're assuming the packaging is for the iPhone "lite" instead of the iPhone "6").
Then there's the name: "5C." Apple first used a letter after the iPhone's name with the iPhone 3G, simply following the convention of the network bands the phone operated on. The next device was physically similar and had updated internals, so Apple called it the 3GS where the S, we were told, stood for "speed." The iPhone 4S followed the same convention, coming after the iPhone 4. The iPhone 5 was a new design, and we're assuming any new phones sold this year will be a variation on iPhone 5 internals, with the iPhone "lite" having lower performing hardware compared to the full-featured, updated iPhone for 2013. So, distinguishing the iPhone lite from the iPhone 5 by a letter makes sense. And "C"? Apple wouldn't have wanted to call it the iPhone 5S for "slow," so we're guessing that C stands for "colors," given we've seen a number of leaked colorful plastic backs for the device.
So, this leak is plausible. Apple could easily follow this line of thinking, even if this initial rumor proves false. But what will the full-featured iPhone will be called? Our money is still on iPhone 5S.