Apple will reportedly begin production of the next iPhone in the next three months, raising expectations of a summer launch.
The new device looks similar to the current iPhone 5, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited "people familiar with the device's production".
Apple has previously adopted a policy of maintaining the exterior design of the iPhone between “full” new generations. For instance the iPhone 4S looked virtually identical to the iPhone 4, but the iPhone 5 was easily distinguishable, with a new case and larger screen.
If Apple sticks to its naming pattern, the flagship iPhone due to enter production in the second quarter will be the iPhone 5S and is likely to feature internal hardware upgrades such as a more powerful processor.
It could be introduced with a new version of iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system, to deliver software enhancements. John Gruber, a well-known Apple blogger, claimed yesterday that work on iOS 7, the next major iteration, was “running behind”, however.
“Engineers have been pulled from OSX 10.9 [Apple’s Mac operating system] to work on it,” he said.
The next major iOS release will be the first overseen by Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple’s British design chief, who is expected to bring the minimalist style he has developed in hardware to the firm’s software for the first time. Sir Jonathan, known as Jony, was put in charge of software design in October after the man in charge of iOS, Scott Forstall, was forced out following the Apple Maps embarrassment.
As well as new flagship hardware and software, this year Apple could also reveal a long-rumoured cheaper version of the iPhone.
The Wall Street Journal reported the handset, primarily tailored for the Chinese market, will feature a four-inch screen as in the iPhone 4S. Apple has been working on coloured casings but its plans remain unclear, it said.