Apple's next iPhone: a rumor roundup

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The iPhone 5 came out less than six months ago, but rumors of Apple's next phone are already swirling. There were signs in January that Apple may already be testing a new iPhone, and The Wall Street Journal reported that a low-cost version of the iPhone may arrive this year. Though it's never certain that rumors will add up, nearly everything about last year's iPhone 5 was leaked in advance of the phone's debut. Let's take a look at what the rumors are saying about Apple's next move for the iPhone.

The next iPhone

Most expectations are that Apple will be following the iPhone 5 with a more iterative release — like it did with the iPhone 4S and 3GS — rather than a full redesign. Right now, most sites are pointing to a major upgrade for the next iPhone's camera: a dual LED flash may be included — and one analyst suggests that the phone will automatically detect lighting conditions and fire either a white or yellow flash to achieve a better white balance. The camera may also have a brighter aperture and an upgraded 13-megapixel sensor. As with past iPhone releases, the device should have a new processor and a new version of iOS as well.

Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who last June accurately predicted several aspects of the iPhone 5, is now predicting that the next iPhone will have a built-in fingerprint scanner beneath the home button. Apple acquired security firm Authentec last year, and Kuo believes that the firm will be Apple's source for this new technology. No other sources have mentioned the new technology, but Kuo's recent track record makes his predictions worth watching.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek suggested that production of Apple's next iPhone would begin this month, and just yesterday Makotakara reported that production may be underway at Foxconn. Both Misek and Kuo called for a June/July timeframe for the device's launch. However iMore editor-in-chief Rene Ritchie reports that Apple is currently targeting August for the phone's release — either way, there's a lot of noise around what Apple will be doing this summer.

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The low-cost iPhone

The Wall Street Journal has a very good record when it comes to Apple rumors — so we fully expect a low-cost iPhone in Apple's future, and quite possibly this year. Though the phone is likely to be less powerful than Apple's flagship device, expectations are that this new iPhone will have LTE connectivity and include the same size and pixel dense display as the iPhone 5 — a move that would help prevent further fragmentation in Apple's ecosystem.

However there has been some dissension on the budget iPhone's screen size: some reports suggest that Apple may be using a larger 4.8 or 5-inch display rather than the 4-inch display of the iPhone 5. Quite a bit of speculation on a larger iPhone came out not long after the latest iPhone's release, but news of a larger device has trailed off — and some thinking places this larger phone as a partner to Apple's flagship device rather than a low-end variation. It's sounding like if Apple does launch a larger iPhone, it won't arrive until at least next year.

As for what the low-cost iPhone will look like, the most detailed description comes from iLounge editor-in-chief Jeremy Horwitz, who describes the device as being imperceptibly larger than the iPhone 5. The device will reportedly have a plastic housing similar to what was used on Apple's discontinued Macbook line, and according to Horwitz, the new phone's design will take cues from both the iPod touch and iPod classic. Like Apple's latest iPod touch line, the low-cost iPhone may come in several color options. When the new device will enter production appears to be less certain — but the same June/July date given for the next flagship iPhone has been suggested.

Wrap-up

Apple may be launching a new iPhone line this year, but it's looking like the company has quite a bit more planned: a fully redesigned iPad may be coming later this year, and our own Nilay Patel reported on Monday that The Verge has learned that Apple is targeting 2013 for the release of a watch that runs iOS. As for the iPhone rumors, we're not sure which will hold true — but if it's anything like last year, we'll find out a lot more in the coming months.

When and if Apple launches an iPhone like what these rumors describe, will that be enough to make you upgrade? Let us know what you're hoping for from Apple down the road.