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4/20/2011
09:31 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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iPhone 5 Expected In September

An Apple event in September is the expected launchpad for a new version of the iPhone with a faster processor, which would be a change from its usual upgrade pattern.

Slideshow: Verizon iPhone 4 Teardown
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Verizon iPhone 4 Teardown
Reuters on Wednesday reported that production of the next iPhone won't start until July or August, citing three sources with knowledge of Apple's supply chain. The later production date means the iPhone 5 (or whatever Apple is going to call it) won't be ready to sell until September. This would be a pattern break for Apple.

Since its debut in June 2007, Apple has refreshed the iPhone each summer, typically in late June or early July. If the iPhone 5 isn't ready until September, it would be the first time Apple has changed its iPhone product refresh cycle in four years. There are a few reasons this makes sense.

First, Apple generally holds a music-related event in early September. That means Apple has a platform already in place from which it can launch the iPhone. Though the September event is usually slated for new iPods, it's not a stretch to add the iPhone, as it is a highly capable media player in its own right and will likely share features with the next-generation iPod Touch. The iPhone and iPod Touch already share the same software and the Retina Display.

But what about WWDC, Apple's developer conference? Doesn't Apple use that event to showcase new iPhones? Yes, it has in the past, but this year may be different. Apple is preparing a new version of its desktop software, OS X Lion. Based on the previews it has already shown of Lion, it looks to be a significant revision to the computing platform. Apple will want to spend a lot of time going over Lion's new features to make sure it receives a significant share of the spotlight.

In addition to new desktop software, Apple may use WWDC to showcase the next version of iOS. Providing a preview of iOS 5 (or whatever it will be called) makes sense with a September launch for the iPhone 5. Previewing iOS 5 in June--both for developers and the public--will generate excitement and hype ahead of the new iPhone launch. Many hope iOS 5 will be a significant upgrade to Apple's iOS platform. Along with the iPhone hardware, Apple typically provides a major update to the iOS platform each year. The two have in years past arrived at the same time.

According to Reuters, the iPhone 5 will have a faster processor. The news service doesn't specify which one, but if Apple mirrors what it did with the iPad 2, the iPhone 5 may have its dual-core 1GHz A5 chip. It will look largely the same as the iPhone 4. (We can only pray that Apple increases the screen size a bit.)

Another big reason Apple may delay bringing the iPhone 5 to market is the Verizon version of the iPhone 4. The iPhone 4 was made available to Verizon Wireless customers for the first time in February. Were Apple to introduce a wholly new version of the iPhone just four months later, many Verizon Wireless iPhone 4 buyers might feel punked. Let's also not forget about the white iPhone 4, which is to become available any day now. Delaying until September puts a larger span of time between the introduction of the Verizon Wireless iPhone 4 and the white iPhone 4 and the possible arrival of the iPhone 5.

Reuters came by its information by speaking with people in touch with Apple's suppliers. They indicated that camera module maker Largan Precision will supply the camera module, Wintek will supply the touchscreen, and Foxconn Technology will supply the casing.

None of the suppliers in question, nor Apple, have verified Reuter's report.

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