There's been so much rumour-hawking and speculation these past few weeks that there's no denying we're in the middle of iPhone season, and now that invites have gone out for the 12 September event, excitement is starting to reach fever-pitch. Here's a rundown of everything we think we know about Apple's next iPhone.
We think we have a pretty good idea of what the new iPhone will look like; we've been seeing leaked parts for months now. That has recently escalated into fully assembled versions, and possibly even a whole phone smuggled out of a manufacturing plant.
The new iPhone will reportedly come in both black and white, and it's said to have a unibody design, with a two-tone back.
Case manufacturers have reportedly been circulating a mock-up of the device so that they can hurry their new gear into production. One of these precious prototypes was spotted at IFA 2012.
The new iPhone will probably have a 4-inch screen with 16:9 aspect ratio. We've heard this again and again, and iMore's report from earlier this week suggests Apple's locked into this configuration.
On a technical level, the iPhone is probably going to use Sharp's IGZO display technology. IGZO screens are thinner because they use smaller transistors, allowing more light to pass through. That means they use fewer LEDs, take up less space and consume less power.
If the iPhone 5 does have the IGZO screens from Sharp, it might be a good idea to pre-order your device, simply because Sharp actually halted production on the displays recently, which may cause a shortfall in orders later down the line.
On the other hand, LG may be the display manufacturer based on recent reports. If that's the case, expect the next iPhone to be mind-blowingly thin. Like look at the metal band and remove the plastic on either side type-thin.
We all know that the next iPhone will come with iOS 6. We've also learnt a lot about Apple's next mobile OS since it was announced at WWDC in June. It will feature Apple's own mapping system, as well as new features like Passbook.
Traditionally, we get an early look at the new iOS during WWDC before getting the full dose when the new iPhone comes out. This year, if reports are to be believed, we'll also be getting an iPad Mini at the same time, so there could be some differences across devices. But either way we'll definitely be getting the final versions of all the new features.
Reports indicate that the new iPhone is going to go smaller again when it comes to the SIM card. The iPhone 4 brought about the addition of the MicroSIM, and after an industry power-struggle, it looks like the new iPhone will come with what's being dubbed a Nano SIM, which is sure to make changing handsets on the go more annoying.
All signs point to the new iPhone having a smaller dock connector. Like the move to MagSafe 2 adaptors, the new 19-pin dock connector is a necessity. And it has been for at least two years, since the iPod Touch reached new levels of skinny.
And if you're really upset about all of your previous-generation peripherals, we're expecting some kind of converter, like with the MagSafe. It might even be compatible with microUSB, but that's getting overly optimistic.
We're also starting to get trickles of the first accessories to support the new dock connector, too. One Australian inventor even went as far as to solve the problem of the changing dock connector even before the iPhone 5 has been released.
It would be hugely surprising if the new iPhone doesn't have 4G LTE. Not only because of the necessity of keeping up with Android and Windows Phone, but because Apple has been reportedly installing LTE equipment in its stores since last year.
Battery life is also a factor. The IGZO screen's low power consumption and the extra space in the body afforded by the thinner screen would allow the iPhone a big, long-lasting battery. That's important.
Until now, one of the main reasons Apple hasn't pulled the trigger on LTE is that the hyperspeed connections would have drained the iPhone's battery too quickly. Apple has always prized battery life in its devices, and there was no way it was going to ship an LTE iPhone that couldn't last a whole day on one charge.
Australia now has a second 1800MHz 4G network thanks to Optus (previously all you could get was Telstra 4G), but there's still no reason to think that the Apple will support 4G in Australia following the new iPad debacle that saw the company fined $2.25 million for advertising incompatible 4G technology.
There have been some rumours about the new iPhone having NFC, but at this point they seem like a bit of a long shot. Passbook in iOS 6 seems like a natural fit for NFC.
But no one's really drooling over NFC right now -- not like they are for LTE speeds. Apple probably has the muscle to push its own NFC venture through the carriers, unlike Google Wallet. While it makes perfect sense to pair a mobile payment system like Passbook with NFC, if the demand isn't there, there's not much reason to stick its nose in the fire. Even Apple's WWDC announcement of Passbook made it seem like we'd be without NFC for a while.
We now know that Apple will be holding an event -- presumably for the iPhone 5 -- on September 12. That's consistent with the iMore report that pegs the announce date as the 12th and the release date as the 21st.
As far as the iPad Mini goes, reports are now pushing it back to October, but we may still see some allusions to it at this event next week.
We'll be live blogging all the announcements for you, so stay tuned.
It's easier to call it the "iPhone 5", but that doesn't work because it will be Apple's sixth handset. It's more likely that Apple will ditch the numerical naming convention like it did this year with the iPad. Your next iPhone will just be the iPhone.
On the other hand, the event invite for 12 September sees the number 12 cast a shadow of the number 5. Of course this could all just be an elaborate tease.
Of course, the speculation could be wrong. As we saw from the cache of iPhone prototypes last week, Apple works on multiple designs at once. So, as unlikely as it may seem, the final design that gets released could be totally different to what we've been seeing.
All we know for sure is that we're going to have some new Apple gear drop into our laps on 12 September.
Original top image and additional render by Martin Hajek