A site that has been the source of some valid Apple leaks previously has reported that Apple is looking at perhaps manufacturing a model with a slide-out keyboard.
The report comes via a rough translation of a post by tw.apple.pro. The source cited by tw.apple.pro claims that Apple has built three prototype models for the upcoming iPhone 5. One of them includes a "sliding cover" that conceals a hardware keyboard.
Other prototypes that were cited are similar to the iPhone 4 except they include an upgraded battery and an 8-megapixel camera. The report seems to compare the iPhone 5 vs. the iPhone 4 as the same sort of transition users saw in the iPhone 3GS vs. the iPhone 3G: mostly internal.
This report comes on the heels of multiple reports of Apple working on a smaller, cheaper iPhone. That iPhone would be about 1/3 smaller than the current iPhone, and sell for $200 unsubsidized, Bloomberg reported.
BoxWave Keyboard Buddy
That would, of course, be excepted by the slide-out keyboard. However, Apple has been devoted to the iPhone's multi-touch display and UI and this would be a radical change. It's an idea that some folks would buy into. The above image, for example, shows a BoxWave product that combines a Bluetooth keyboard with a case.
tw.apple.pro has a decent track record, with mostly correct information, although it has been wrong before. Last July, tw.apple.com showed off a mysterious small touchscreen it had discovered; it speculated the screen could be used in an "iPod touch nano." In September, Apple unveiled the latest iPod nano with a small multi-touch display.
The site's report also repeated oft-cited rumors of a thinner iPad 2, as well as a camera. These have been rumored by many sites, already, however.