While the world waits with bated breath for Apple to finally and categorically confirm - for the chances of the rumours proving untrue at this point are minimal - the existence of a tablet designed to bridge the gap between the iPhone and the MacBook, a photo of the front panel of the alleged device has been leaked.

The rather blurry image, provided by an anonymous benefactor - described as a trusted source - to The Mac Observer, shows an upscaled iPhone front panel, which the source describes as measuring 10" diagonally - a significant increase over the iPhone's 3.5" display.

Aside from the size, the layout of the panel will be familiar to anyone who has use an iPhone or an iPod Touch: a slit at the top provides room for the speaker to breathe, while a circular hole at the bottom provides space for a 'home' button which will return the user to the initial menu screen at any time.

Where the panel layout differs is in the presence of a small hole in the upper left which could represent either room for a notification LED, or for a microphone - at 10" diagonal this is a unit you'll be using sat in front of you rather than clamped to your ear, so the positioning would make sense if it weren't for its close proximity to the speaker.

The size of the panel fits with rumours reported by Softpedia that manufacturers are experiencing increased demand for 10.1" OLED panels from an OEM who wishes to remain nameless.

Should the rumours prove true Apple fans who were hoping for something a bit more upmarket than an upscaled iPhone - such as the nifty MacBook modification dubbed the ModBook by third-party Axiotron - are likely to be disappointed. If the tablet runs the cut-down iPhone operating system, rather than the full blown Mac OS X that features on the company's desktops and laptops, that disappointment is almost certain.

That said, there is currently no concrete evidence that this represents Apple's long-awaited entry into the tablet market: even if the measurements are accurate, it's as likely to be a front panel for a mock demonstration iPhone to be used as an eye-catch in Apple stores than as the basis for Apple's latest product.

Would you consider buying a 10" iPhone, or are you hoping that the images just represent the 3.5" iPhone 4G and the trusted source has its facts and figures twisted? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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