With IFA right around the corner, we've heard plenty from Samsung and LG. HTC, however, is keeping itself in the mix, if inadvertently, with a few reports today shedding light on its potential future plans.

Let's start with the hardware: ePrice (Google translated) claimed it picked up the HTC One Max (possibly a production model) destined for Chinese telecom company Unicom.

This is a dual-SIM variant, equipped with a removable metal rear casing, external memory card and built-in battery. Conspicuously gaping is a square hole under the camera lens, in the exact spot an earlier leak, also courtesy of ePrice, had same-said opening.

The initial report speculated the space was meant for a fingerprint scanner, and though we're no closer to confirmation, it seems the rumor is gaining some credibility.

Fingerprint scanner

ePrice also claimed it handled a Max running the beta of a software interface that included a fingerprint control function in a pull-down shortcut menu, and you can see a fingerprint icon in the image to the left.

Just about everything can be faked in this day and age, so treat the existence of the Max's fingerprint scanner like Big Foot: It may be out there, but we'll have to see it to believe it.

OS yes?

HTC's prints may be on more than a finger reader as the Wall Street Journal also reported the Taiwanese firm is developing its own mobile operating system.

The OS, "according to people familiar with the project," would be geared towards Chinese consumers, meaning we're unlikely to see it on phones outside that country.

HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang is supposedly closely overseeing the OS' development, and it's expected to launch before 2013 clocks out.

While it's not clear at this point what HTC's take on the mobile software system would look like, it is said to feature close integration with China-specific apps, such as Weibo, the Chinese-language microblogging site akin to Twitter.

Smartphones running the China-bound OS are reportedly out in the wild, including in the hands of Chinese officials. The government there has encouraged the development of domestic software systems, according the WSJ, to draw away from Western companies such as Google and Apple.