The long-delayed fourth-gen. white iPhone is expected to FINALLY air in the next couple weeks.  (Source: Gear Live)

The next gen. iPhone 5 is rumored to launch in September. It reportedly will be almost identical to the iPhone 4, but will pack a new signal processing chip, a faster processor, and a higher resolution camera. It will reportedly be quickly followed up with the iPhone 6 -- a more major redesign -- in Spring 2012.  (Source: Google Images)

iOS 5 is rumored to bring a new visual preview of multitasking apps.  (Source:
Details about iOS 5 also may have leaked

It's only a few months away from one of the biggest annual smart phone events -- the launch of Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) latest and greatest iPhone.  Hopes are riding high and the pressure is on for Apple.  

After delivering a fourth generation handset plagued with problems like shatter-prone screens, antenna woes, and proximity sensor issues suffice it to say that its crucial for Apple to deliver solidly this time around.  And that's not to mention the increased pressure Apple faces from a soaring Android from Google Inc. (GOOG) and a resurgent Windows smart phone effort from Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).

I. iOS 5 Details Air

As is typical, what is rumored to be Apple's game plan for the upcoming release has leaked well in advance of it.  While no Gizmodo lost prototype debacle, there's plenty of juicy details to dig into this time around.

First up is a pair of videos from Vietnamese leaks site Tinhtê.vn.  The site shows off what looks to be the long delayed white iPhone 4 handset, which it claims to be from Apple.  Better yet, the device is sporting what it claims to be a "test build" of iOS 5.

The test build shows a new multitasking menu that shows you visual previews of apps -- similar to the Opera browser's tab preview.  The current version of iOS only has icons of running apps in its multitasking menu.  Like in the current menu you can click on apps to expand them to fill the screen or click and hold ("long click") them to bring up an option to close them.

The new menu also features a search bar up top, that drops the user into what appears a Spotlight search version almost identical to that found in the current iOS build.

In the settings menu, the system information indicates that the device has a capacity of 64 GB.  

Note, it would be possible to jailbreak an existing handset and implement such a preview feature, so there's no guarantees of the authenticity of this set of rumors.

II. Hardware Revealed as Well?

A separate report provides more details about the hardware that the iPhone Gen. 5 is rumored to be packing.  In a research note, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with Concord Securities breaks down several new features coming in the handset.  

Mr. Kuo was boosted for being one of a handful of analysts to correctly predict that the iPad 2 would stick with the previous generation's screen resolution of 1024x768 pixels.

This time around he predicts that the iPhone will ditch the Infineon Technologies AG's (IFXA) 3G baseband processor found in the previous model, for a new baseband processor from Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM).  The last generation's reception woes were thought to be partially the fault of Apple's antenna design and partially the fault of Infineon's hardware.  This time around Apple clearly wants a clean break when it comes to its antenna design.

He says overall, the phone's hardware modifications will be "slight" and be more of an iterative nature, rather than a redesign.

For example, he expects the camera to be bumped to an 8 megapixel resolution.  And he expects the device to employ a more powerful CPU/GPU successor to the A4, dubbed the A5.  The higher clocked chip will likely be co-designed with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (005390) and Intrinsity, Inc., as with the previous generation.

Apple has scheduled its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) for June 6-10 in San Francisco, Calif.  But don't expect the iPhone 5 to air then, according to Mr. Kuo.

Due to various issues, including the Verizon pickup and part shortages due to the recent Japanese earthquake/tsunami, he expects the iPhone 5 to enter mass production in August and be released in September.  Past years have seen Apple announce the iPhone hardware in June and release it in July.

If this is accurate, it is unlikely that the hardware will announced in June as Apple typically prefers to announce its products right before it is going to release them.  More likely WWDC 2011 will be focused exclusively on iOS 5 and Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.  As the hardware of the iPhone 5 will likely be more of an iterative improvement, Mr. Kuo suggests that iOS 5 will be the "main selling point" of the handset. 

Mr. Kuo expects Apple's shipments will reach a volume of 28 to 32 million units for the year.  
He says that his sources indicate, in a surprising twist, that Apple will air the sixth generation iPhone early in spring 2012, despite the late fall release of the iPhone 5.  He says the company is devoting a great deal of resources to the iPhone 6, which will represent a major hardware redesign geared at keeping the company competitive with Android.

Additionally he predicted that the iPod Touch Gen. 5 may not ship in September alongside the iPhone 5.

In a previous note from last month, he predicted that Apple would begin to ship a white iPhone -- similar to that seen in the Vietnamese leak -- late this month.  The rumor has since been confirmed by numerous reports [1] [2].

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner

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