For those not weary of iPhone predictions, here’s some new grist for the Apple rumor mill, in the form of “leaked” photos of what is expected to be Apple’s new iPad mini.

The photos gathered steam Tuesday after appearing on a French technology site called Nowhere Else and then popped up on technology blogs all over the Web.

Some blogs declared that the pictures show a leaked “prototype” of a smaller tablet from Apple. Others were skeptical, saying that that the image in the photos looked like a mock-up or model based on prevailing rumors. Another rumor: The device could be released as soon as next month.

As gadget prediction is practically an industry unto itself, so, too, is the making of fake photos of new electronics — especially if they involve Apple. Occasionally, the subjects in the photos turn out to be conceptual designs. Some companies make physical mock-ups of upcoming tech gadgets to design cases or other accessories for the device. And industrial designers have created concept art of the gadgets-in-the-works to share interesting features.

Apple fans may want to reach for the salt shaker for this photo “discovery.” A few inconsistencies:

■The Apple logo on the back of the device seems to change location slightly in each photo. One could argue that the focus on different angles makes the logo appear to shift position. But that bitten fruit certainly looks to be sitting lower on the tablet in some photos than in others, the apple’s leaf lining up with different points on the perimeter.

■The “iPad” screen also looks much blurrier than the rest of the picture, meaning that it’s likely not functional.

■The pictured device appears to measure about 7 inches diagonally — the same size as the Galaxy Nexus and Kindle Fire but slightly less than the 7.85-inch mini that Apple is believed to be developing.

While Apple’s late co-founder, Steve Jobs, once said that he had no interest in shrinking the iPad, he reportedly warmed up to the idea. During the copyright infringement trial of Apple and Samsung, e-mails between Apple executives Eddy Cue, Phil Schiller and now-chief executive Tim Cook revealed that Jobs had been “very receptive” to the idea of a smaller iPad after reading reviews about the Samsung Galaxy and other similar-size tablets.

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