In previous years, we would know what to expect in the next iPhone by now, because we would have already seen it onstage at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference.
But that's not the way it went this year, so we're left guessing and hanging around the rumor mill, trying to piece together an image of the iPhone 5, 4GS, or whatever they're going to call it. Here's a rundown of what we've heard so far:
- No more Home button: Rumors dating to early 2011 tell of a buttonless iPhone face equipped for gesture commands instead.
- Better hardware: No surprise here, but the word is the phone will have an A5 processor and 8-megapixel camera.
- An edge-to-edge screen: This seems to be one of the more persistent rumors, that the next generation of the phone will include a touchscreen that fills the entire face of the phone.
- NFC chip included: Rumors that near-field communications would be part of the release were hot in the spring, but we haven't heard much on the topic since.
- It will be totally redesigned... or not at all: The rumors have been in conflict for months now. Some say to expect a whole new approach with a new shape, slick, curved glass and upgraded guts. Others point to a slight update to the phone with cosmetic changes and only a few incremental upgrades. Naturally, this disconnect helps fuel another rumor...
- Apple will release two new iPhones: One would be a totally new next-generation iPhone 5, the other an updated iPhone 4S targeting prepaid cell customers. There's also been talk of Apple designing a phone for developing countries but it's not clear if that's the 4S or a third new phone.
- It will be released sometime after August: It could be September, next year, or anywhere in between, depending on your source, but it looks like there will be plenty available with reports that Apple has ordered 15 million to 25 million of the devices.