APPLE will begin production of the next iPhone within a month or so, setting the scene for a summer launch of the new device.
The company is planning to start production between April and June but analysts believe manufacturing will have to begin this month if the new phone is be revealed before the end of August,
News of the plan comes on the 40th anniversary of the first mobile phone call. Martin Cooper made the first call while an engineer at Motorola in 1973. The device he used – a Motorola DynaTac, was nine inches tall, had 35 minutes of talktime, and took 10 hours to charge.
Apple usually begins manufacturing devices about three months before they are revealed; building up stock ahead of what is usually massive demand.
The next iPhone is slated to be an incremental upgrade of the flagship iPhone 5, which hit the market last September.
The iPhone 5s, as it is expected to be called, will likely have a faster processor and a better camera, while the iOS software is also set for an upgrade.
At the same time, the 'Wall Street Journal' reported Apple is expected to bring out a lower end smartphone, designed to take on the mid and lower spec Android devices which have helped phones running Google's operating system corner that part of the market.
Since the launch of the first iPhone, Apple has come under pressure from the likes of Samsung, whose Galaxy series of smartphones have eaten into Apple's market share. The US company has up to now focused on protecting margins and maintaining its premium products, and conceded the lower end of the smartphone market to Android.
News of Apple's plans for the iPhone came as Google prepares to launch a new version of its Nexus 7 tablet computer in July.
Google is aiming to ship as many as 8 million of the budget-priced tablets in the second half of the year, throwing down the gauntlet to other low-end tablets such as Amazon Kindle Fire and Apple iPad mini.
Google, which gets almost all of its revenue from online advertising, wants the aggressively priced Nexus to be a hit as more Nexus users would mean more exposure for Google's ads.
Google and other traditionally non-hardware companies like Amazon and Microsoft have begun making inroads into mobile devices as consumers increasingly access the web on the go.