Is the iPhone 6 (or iPhone 5S) about to launch? Foxconn and Pegasus, two of Apple's biggest Chinese suppliers, are hiring large numbers of additional factory workers.

The iPhone 6's launch date could be closer than we thought, with the news that Apple supplier Foxconn is recruiting additional factory workers sparking rumours that it is gearing up to meet demand for Apple's next smartphone.

China Business News reports that a recruitment firm that works with Foxconn in China is hiring large numbers of new workers. According to a source at the Foxconn plant, the recruitment drive will see worker numbers approach their previous peak of 300,000, up from the current 210,000.

As Global Times reports, a rival Apple supplier, Pegatron, is also on the hire ahead of the iPhone 5S/iPhone 6 launch, moving to increase its workforce by 30 to 40 percent in the second half of 2013.

Apple iPhone 6 concept illustration by Arthur Reis

Apple iPhone 6 concept illustration by Arthur Reis

All of this frenetic hiring follows yesterday's prediction from an analyst that Apple is actually stepping down iPhone production ahead of the iPhone 6's launch. That might sound like mixed messages, but it's likely that demand will fall off initially as we get nearer to the new smartphone's launch, as prospective customers hold out for the iPhone 5S. Once the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 becomes available for pre-order, however, demand will spike, and Apple's suppliers will need to gird themselves to meet the demand.

For more rumours about the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6, when the iPhone 6 will launch and the features it's likely to offer, check out our article 'iPhone 6 release date, rumours and leaked images'.

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Via CNET