AT&T has moved more than one million iPhone 4S units since Apple released the phone on Oct. 14.
The Apple iPhone 4S was preceded by a prototype iPhone 5, an industry source tells Business Insider. Flickr

The iPhone 5 was real, an industry source told Business Insider.

The hype was unbearable leading up to Apple's October announcement of what nearly everyone believed was going to be the iPhone 5, but instead turned out to be the iPhone 4S.

Though the 4S ended up being the current record-holder for the fastest-selling electronic device of all time by selling four million units in three days, there was widespread outrage and disappointment that the iPhone 5 had been cast aside in favor of the now-ubiquitous 4S.

The world wanted to know what had happened to the 5, which was expected to have the double-whammy: slimmer design and larger screen.

Business Insider's source said he possessed a prototype of such a phone for about two weeks, though his account has not been verified.

The source, which BI reported has been right about such matters in the past, said the phone he had about three months before the iPhone 4S was released was fully redesigned along the lines of the purported iPhone 5.

The source told BI the phone had a 4-inch diagonal screen and because it was a prototype, was made of lower-grade non-production-ready materials and its color profile was not properly calibrated. He said it also had a changed home button, a 10-megapixel camera, was flatter than previous iPhones and much faster but had a dismal battery life, which the company likely hoped to fix.

Rumors that there had been an iPhone 5 started almost immediately after the 4S was announced.

CNET cited research conducted by Rodman and Renshaw, an investment bank, that called the next-gen iPhone the last project that Steve Jobs was intimately involved with from concept to final design. Analyst Ashok Kumar added the product will establish the high water mark for iPhone volumes.

Kumar wrote the iPhone 5 was to be completely redesigned and that the phone's body would be slimmer while its screen would be larger.

That description is in keeping with the account provided by Business Insider's industry source.

So the world may never know whether there was an iPhone 5, but for now it appears these sorts of accounts of its mythological existence are here to stay.