(Pocket-lint) - You can guarantee that right now, somewhere, there is an Apple employee walking round with some form of new iPhone in their pocket. Be it a development unit or the real thing, the next iPhone is coming.
So what do we know so far about Apple's new device? Will it be an iPhone 5S, the iPhone 6, or an entirely new handset altogether? Apple secrets are hard to come by, but those few gems we have, open the door on what's next in store from the manufacturer.
iPhone 5S or iPhone 6
Traditionally Apple launches an internal hardware update to its flagship phone each year, with new-look hardware design every other year. Right now we are due an iPhone 5S. Taking that approach means we should be getting new insides, but not new outsides in 2013.
Rumours suggest we might skip tradition in 2013 and go straight for the iPhone 6, although these are mostly guesswork. Stuff magazine in the UK recently published a picture from a Vodafone stock inventory console in store that suggested the phone would be called the iPhone 6, however Pocket-lint has since confirmed via sources within Vodafone that this was just batch numbering: the sixth shipment of iPhones that month.
Meanwhile Apple developer logs have given repeated reference to the iPhone 6. Just as the iPhone 5 before it appeared as the 5.1 and 5.2 in app logs, "iPhone 6.1" and "iOS 7" have also made an appearance.
Of course the smart money (there is no smart money really with Apple when it comes to rumours) is that Apple will stick with tradition and launch the iPhone 5S.
New iPhone release date
September. Well that's if we follow previous launch schedules from the past couple of years. Apple used to launch the new iPhone in June at its WWDC developer conference, but has shifted away from that as it looks to capitalise on people's urge to buy a new phone for Christmas. A September launch date also fits in nicely with iPhone 4S users who didn't upgrade to the iPhone 5 in 2012
But it's not just about guess work or looking at what has gone before, there are plenty of sites claiming to have the inside scoop on when the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 release date actually is.
iMore, Digitimes and others all claim the next iPhone will be revealed in August or September.
iOS 7: the new iPhone software
Things are a lot more concrete here, as we have proof, based on visitor traffic to Pocket-lint that Apple is already testing iOS 7 - a new version of the company's mobile operating system.
But don't just take our word for it. TechCrunch has also reported that Onswipe, a New York-based company that helps web publishers customise their websites for the tablet interface, has found large droves of users using iPhone's with iOS 7 installed. The users were based mainly in San Francisco and Apple's home town of Cupertino.
We also know, following Scott Forstall's departure in 2012, that the design of the newest version of Apple's operating system has been overseen by Jonathan Ive.
As new senior vice-president of industrial design, Ive has allegedly been implementing drastic and sweeping design changes to the operating system. It is now "black, white and flat all over" and should be the most stripped back and simplified iOS yet.
According to reports, there is no new learning curve and several core fundamentals of iOS will remain the same, including the Lock and Home screens. Several of Apple's native apps will get new icons and redesigned tool bars, tab bars and other features in the update.
Ive dislikes something called skeuomorphism, or mimicking real life objects in digital design. iOS does a lot of this, using paper textures for iBooks or a leather effect for the calendar. Expect the majority of this to go with iOS 7.
Rumours also point to Flickr and Vimeo being heavily integrated into the operating system.
We expect iOS 7 to launch in tandem with the new iPhone, as is the tradition with Apple.
New iPhone specs
What's the point of launching a new phone if you don't spruce up the features inside? Apple tends to launch updated internals, with a new-look phone coming every other year.
Right now we know very little, but the usual buzzwords still keep popping up in the rumour mill.
Current rumours suggest possible wireless charging integration with the phone, to match the Nokia range of Lumia devices, the Nexus 4 and the iPhone's current biggest challenger, the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Apple hasn't offered wireless charging before although you can get it via bolt-on cases from companies like Powermat. If Apple is really is keen to let people ditch the cable altogether, which it has done in previous years with syncing, then now might be the time to make that happen.
After years of not having NFC, is 2013 the year Apple will finally add it? The company has done a lot to try to avoid adding the technology, and the infrastructure on the high-street still isn't really there yet either. At the moment it's a catch-22 situation. The high street won't add it until Apple does, and Apple won't until the high street does.
If Apple does finally add NFC capability to the iPhone, expect everywhere to let you touch and pay within the next year.
For many the iPhone 5 screen is plenty big enough, but looking at the competition it is still too small. Nokia, LG, HTC, Samsung all have smartphones with screen sizes that dwarf the iPhone 5. That's led some to report that the iPhone 5S will launch with a 4.8-inch screen.
Talk so far has been of the iPhone Math, which may eventually turn out to be the iPhone 6. A bigger screen would make sense, especially given that Apple made some concessions in the display department with the iPhone 5. Going for a 4.8-inch screen would match the rest of the Android competition.
Apple's new iPhone 5S or whatever the next iPhone is called, might end up with a screen boasting double the pixels of the current-generation iPhone 5. That would mean 1.5 million pixels in just 4-inches of display, which should make for the sharpest smartphone screen on the market.
On top of the resolution bump, rumours also point to an iPad mini-style ultra-narrow screen bezel, which might mean the iPhone 5S is actually getting a hardware redesign after all. The rumours are coming from Chinese website WeiPhone.com.
One for the crazy talk, but hey you never know. Michael Barrett, PayPal's chief information officer, recently said in a keynote speech: "There is going to be a fingerprint enabled phone on the market later this year. Not just one, multiple." That's led some to believe that he was talking about the next iPhone.
Is 64GB enough storage these days? Maybe Apple will double down and offer a 128GB version with the next iPhone.
Rumours have persisted that the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 will come in various colours (as seen above via modding service Mendmyi). BGR reports that the "SIM trays, which have been pictured before in leaked low-resolution images, are thinner than the trays from the current-generation iPhone 5. One tray also appears to be golden or beige in colour, which could support earlier rumors suggesting that the iPhone 5S will be available in several new colours."
The next-generation iPhone will also include a redesigned ear speaker bracket, according to BGR, and a new loud-speaker bracket. Presumably this will enhance sound in every direction.
Better 4G LTE
At the moment the iPhone 5 doesn't support Vodafone or O2's 4G signal in the UK. You can bet that it will, come a new launch. That's not confirmed of course, but it would seem strange to leave out support for the two UK networks. Vodafone has previously said that it would be delaying the launch of its 4G network in the UK until the autumn, perhaps just in time for the launch of the 4G ready iPhone 6?
New iPhone 6 cases
New iPhone cases, normally a sure sign something is coming soonish, haven't turned up yet, and therefore don't let us see if the Chinese case makers believe the next iPhone will feature a different design from what we have now with the iPhone 5. Once these start to appear, we should know or at least guess, what the new iPhone will look like.
New iPhone rumours
What we can guarantee is that we will see plenty of rumours before the official launch of the next iPhone, whether it is called the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, or even iPhone 7 (to match with iOS 7). Some will be bogus, some will be on the money, and will we try to make sure we do our best to filter through the lot.
Heard or seen a good rumour? Let us know in the comments below.