UPDATE: After months of rumours the new iPhone has been confirmed. iPhone 5 officially launched at Apple press event, 4G in the UK through EE. FInd out all the latest via our iPhone 5 homepage.
Things are about to hot up in smartphone land. The rumour volcano is near ready to explode, pouring juicy specs over iPhone fans like an Apple-fuelled Vesuvius. The queuers are getting ready and the phone contracts coming to an end. So when is the iPhone 5 coming? It’s that time of year again - it's iPhone 5 launch time.
So what do we know? Right now pretty much nothing is concrete, but you can guarantee that a lot of rumour will come true. So here we have it, everything we know about the new iPhone 5.
iPhone 5 release date?
Pinning down a release date on the iPhone 5 isn’t easy. If we look to previous handset launches, the iPhone 4 came in June and the 4S in October. Current whispers of an iPad mini mean that if the new tablet should come to fruition, Apple will likely shift the new iPhone’s launch.
There was no mention of the device at WWDC, which was more about iOS 6. The first real indicator that the phone was due to arrive is a gradual slowing of current gen iPhone orders. According to analyst Shaw Wu, this is exactly what is happening.
Then we were guessing a September-October timeframe for the iPhone 5 launch, which is most likely, even though a source talking to KnowYourMobile started to point to August 7 for a keynote speech. Another website, Macotakara, which has been reliable in Mac rumours and releases in the past, also said the handset is already in production and, according to a Chinese source, will be due out in August. However, they both now look highly unlikely.
More probable is the news that a Chinese accessory manufacturer is now claiming to have been given a heads up by Apple that the new iPhone 5 will be released to the general public on 21 September. It's a rumour that is gaining gravitas from a number of other sources too.
What we now know is that there will be an Apple press conference taking place at 6pm BST on 12 September where the iPhone 5 will almost certainly be announced. That would leave the 21 September as a realistic date for shipping the handsets.
iPhone 5 design
Apple works in design pairs; the iPhone 3G and the 3GS; the iPhone 4 and the 4S. This time then things should be different on the design front. People need something fresh to feel excited about and no doubt Apple will deliver.
Right now there is plenty to go on in terms of design rumours for the iPhone 5. Most point to a larger screen, with the latest set of leaks showing a bigger screen in widescreen format. Website Kitguru even had leaked shots of the phone - which were eventually taken down, adding to the the likelihood of their being real. No surprise here but it also looks like there will be a white version of the new iPhone, with a front plate image appearing on Apple.pro
Before these leaked images - which show a very similar design to the 4S albeit with a grey colour antenna wraparound - there were some slightly different looking shots. Sadly these were nothing more than high-quality renders, so can be ignored.
Since, a comparison of the front panels of the iPhone 4S and that of the supposed new iPhone have hit the web courtesy of Nowwhereelse.fr. What we get is a chassis very much in the same style and vein as the iPhone 4S but both thinner and longer as we'd expect from a device with a bigger screen. The front-facing camera looks to have moved to a more central position and the general aspect of the display is one that appears as a 16:9 widescreen style.
We don’t have any weight specifics yet, but expect things to be getting thinner and lighter, they nearly always do. In terms of size, pictures of a backplate have emerged showing the phone measuring 12 x 6cm. Also any leaked shots can always vary massively from the final design: don’t forget how the iPhone 4 was found with a 3G style wraparound.
There's also speculation that we'll see a a new-look dock connector, which will no doubt be causing all sorts of fun for accessories manufacturers. Dropping the traditional 30 pin connector and going for something smaller could help save on space internally, which might translate to things such as bigger batteries.
Indeed 9to5mac is running with the tip that the new connector will be called Lightning, thus fitting with Apple's other high speed proprietary connector for Mac called Thunderbolt. Of course, if Apple was really classy it would be Lightfoot & Thuderbolt, but there you go. The hope is that Lightning will be able to sync with the USB 3-enabled Mac computers far faster than the 30-pin connector. It's supposed to sell for $10 and expect a few extra bits of white plastic adapter to keep things compatible with dock/radios and such that you may already own.
What's more, could we see the 3.5mm headset port moved from the top of the phone to the bottom? After all this would make it easier to read a text message or check a caller ID with a more natural movement when removing the phone from your pocket while the headphones are plugged in.
It might not be hugely exciting, but it looks like the new iPhone might use an even smaller SIM than that of the iPhone 4. A leaked motherboard shows a tiny SIM card slot. More antenna connections also means that possibility of LTE.
One thing's for sure, the screens are already built, with Sharp CEO Takashi Okuda claiming that the company is ready to ship finished Retina displays to Apple this month (August). It looks like, given the repeated leaks of those front displays, that the iPhone 5 could be sporting a 4.06-inch screen. The screen would however maintain the same width as the iPhone 4, making it a 16:9 display.
The most recent casing shots of all reveal a rather nice family snap of the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5, the iPad and what's believed to be a casing for the iPad mini which some say will arrive at a separate Apple press conference in October. The shot shows how the iPhone 4S is indeed the same width as the new iPhone but both thicker and shorter.
iPhone 5 specifications
It’s looking like Apple will opt for a 3.95-inch screen with the new iPhone. This means a resolution jump in order to maintain the Retina Display resolution, with a screen of perhaps 1136 x 640 res. Expect this jump to come along with fresh app updates for all of Apple’s core iOS applications, likely alongside iSO 6, with which the phone will ship.
The iPhone 5 could also house a thinner display to its predecessors thanks to new technology from Sharp. In-cell technology integrates touch sensors into an LCD display meaning no additional touch sensitive layer is needed. A video has also emerged suggesting the display will be scratch resistant.
As for the processor, quad-core is possible, all though we expect it to be similar if not the same as the A5X sat inside the iPad. Apple traditionally hasn’t liked to be first to the fore with the processor speed game, so the new iPhone may dodge the quad-core thing in order to save on battery.
The lack of concrete specs on the iPhone means anything else is pretty much guess work. Like most iPhone updates, you should be expecting a better camera, screen, processor and the rest. We just don’t know exactly what they are going to be yet. That said, 9to5mac has had word that we might be getting a new Panorama mode for both the iPhone 5 and the iPod touch; possibly something that will arrive to the earlier models courtesy of iOS 6.
It's virtually nailed on that the new iPhone or iPhone 5 will arrive with LTE connectivity ready to go on the EE 4G network in the UK as well as in the US. (So, will it be called the iPhone 4G?) EE's UK announcement just one day before the iPhone press conference sounds far too much like good timing to be pure coincidence. What's more, there were some heavy hints from EE about unspecified top smartphones as yet to come.
Where can you get it?
Here’s a bit of fun: a Chinese website called TaoBao is already advertising the phone for sale at around £749, despite there being no specifications or even a release date.
Expect every major network to start carrying the iPhone from launch, as per normal, as well as insane numbers of pre-orders and day one queues. We also expect PC World and Currys to be stocking it, given its listing of a “mystery Apple product” at a recent Christmas in July event.
Naturally, the moment we have details on who is stocking the iPhone, we will be putting out info faster than you can read it. Until then, hold tight, the iPhone 5 is coming, as evidenced to somebody out in the wide world already having one in their possession - at least, if an anonymous site's server logs are anything to go by.
Smallest ever SIM?
According to reports, the new iPhone 5 will, for the first time use a nano-SIM. Operators are said to be stockpiling the smallest ever Sim card ahead of launch so as to be able to deliver working devices as soon as they arrive in store.
As a matter of fact, UK mobile service provider Vodafone appears to have made a slight boo-boo with a blog post indicating that it had stockpiled 500,000 of these nano-SIM cards. Once pulled, it was claimed that it was a mistake over SIMs for the Nokia Lumia series but that's all a bit unlikely as the Lumias take microSIMs rather than the nano variety.
With Apple having announced its Passbook app at WWDC - an application that keeps all your store card and ticket information safe in one place - contactless payment information via NFC would seem a logicall step forward.
Images have been leaked that show what looks like an NFC chip embedded into the handset. To accomodate this, the camera looks like it might be moved from the centre to the right hand side of the phone.
Should an NFC chip find its way into the iPhone 5, it would make it possible (at least in theory) to make in-store payments by simply tapping the phone on an NFC reader, while contact information and alike would also be able to be passed on by gently touching two NFC-enabled devices together.
iPhone 5 accessories
With a new iPhone will, of course, come a new set of accessories. One thing that looks to be finally changing after more years than we'd care to count is the design of the iPhone headphones. Turning up on Vietnamese site Tinhte.vn, these flattened ear buds - described as like a horse's head - are designed to leave a much smaller profile once worn. They're set to launch with the latest iPods as well as the iPhone 5.
According to 9to5Mac, the headphones will be known as Apple Earpods and will retail at $29 in the US - the same price as the current standard issue headphones. The acoustics have been improved and they should stay in place in your ears a little better.
As well as backing up what we're expecting on the design front, luxury designed Gresso has gone early with a very limited edition bumper for the iPhone 5. The Gresso Revolution opens up so that a new iPhone 5 can be housed as soon as it becomes available and is made of solid titanium chosen because it's hard to scratch, strong, yet light.
A PVD-coating has been added to increase wear resistance, which also gives the bumper frame a darker colour, and the company inscription is engraved on an 18k gold inset. Only 999 will be made and each will set you back $3,000. You might want to stick to just one then.
What do you want from the new iPhone? Let us know in the comments below ...