July 07, 2011

It's that time of year again. Apple is getting ready to release its latest iPhone.

Well, not quite. This year the launch won't be happening in July, as has been the case for all of Apple's iPhone releases since 2007 -- but sometime in September -- although October might be a safer bet.

The cause for the delay? The manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Co., which assembles the iPhone for Apple, isn't currently able to produce units fast enough. (Apple expects to sell a massive 25 million units of the next iPhone in 2011, according to a report published by the WSJ. In 2010, the iPhone 4 shifted 3 million units in 3 weeks.)

But wait -- September's release might not be the iPhone5 after all. Instead, some analysts believe Apple will only be releasing an 'evolutionary' version of the iPhone 4 in September, called iPhone 4S. The iPhone 5 might not come until mid-2012, International Business Times reports.

Analyst Keith Bachman of BMO Capital Markets expects the iPhone 4S to feature a better camera and a different case, according to IBN. Most experts agree that the September iPhone will be very similar to the current iPhone 4, although it should be thinner and lighter with an improved eight-megapixel camera and a faster processor.

But all is not lost for those anxiously waiting for the iPhone 5.

Some analysts, like Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore, believe Apple will release two models of the iPhone in September -- both the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S.

"We expect Apple to refresh the iPhone in September, with two SKUs (stock keeping units); namely the iPhone 5 and a lower-end iPhone 4S handset," Whitmore wrote in a note to clients, according to IBT.

So what new features will the iPhone 5 have?

Apparently, Apple is testing an iPhone which incorporates Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which enables users to make payments by simply waving the phone near devices which can read the information embedded in the phone, IBT said.

It is also a good bet that the iPhone 5 will be a world phone which blends GSM and CDMA capabilities, which would make it work on a variety of networks across the world, IBT reports. In all likelihood, the iPhone 5 will have an improved flash unit for its camera. Images leaked earlier this year suggested that the camera sensor and flash unit would be separated in the new iPhone.

Gamers will also be happy to learn that the iPhone 5 should have better gaming capabilities supported by multi-core A5 processor and Imagination Technologies' PowerVR Series6 mobile graphics processing architecture.

All in all, despite all the leaks, no one yet knows exactly what the iPhone 5 will look like, when it will be released, or exactly how many of these new features it will have.

Although if the past is any indicator of the future, leaks ahead of the iPhone 4's release were pretty much confirmed when Apple launched the device last year.

In any case, one thing is for sure: regardless of when the iPhone 5 comes out and precisely which new features it has, it is highly likely to be yet another massive win for Apple.

Melanie Rodier has worked as a print and broadcast journalist for over 10 years, covering business and finance, general news, and film trade news. Prior to joining Wall Street & Technology in ...