New reports suggest the next-generation iPhone will indeed feature an edge-to-edge screen and a shifted camera flash.
Those reports stem from an "iPhone 5G" case offered on Chinese manufacturer Kulcase's Alibaba.com Website, which was noticed by Electronista and subsequently picked up by Apple-centric blogs such as Apple Insider. The mockup for this "newest design crystal case for Apple iPhone 5G" included a screen that stretches to the extreme edges of the device, along with a camera flash now spaced further away from the aperture.
How much can you trust this sort of report? The Apple rumor mill has a tendency to buzz over any scrap of news related to upcoming company products, no matter how far-fetched. Apple's own tight secrecy creates an echo-chamber that amplifies even the most fanciful scuttlebutt; and before you know it, half the Web seems convinced that the next iPad will offer glasses-free 3D and little white-plastic arms to massage your wrists as you hold it. (You heard it here first.)
That being said, Apple Insider insists that Alibaba.com "has been the source of a number of Apple product leaks in the past."
A new research note from Jefferies & Co. suggests the next iPhone could feature only incremental upgrades, even as it appears on a broader set of carriers.
"We believe the likelihood of the iPhone 5 launch in September including LTE [Long-Term Evolution] is now remote," analyst Peter Misek wrote in that note, issued May 13. "According to our industry checks, the device should be called iPhone 4S and include minor cosmetic changes, better cameras, A5 dual-core processor, and HSPA+ [Evolved High-Speed Packet Access] support."
That note also claimed, based on "industry checks," that Sprint, T-Mobile and China Mobile will be announced as new iPhone carriers in time for the holiday season: "On Apple's last earnings call, management responded to a question about launching the CDMA [Code Division Multiple Access] iPhone at other carriers as -we are constantly looking and adding where it makes sense, and you can keep confidence that we'll continue to do that."
AT&T and Verizon remain the only two U.S. carriers of the iPhone at the moment. Despite AT&T's plans to acquire T-Mobile for $39 billion in cash and stock, the smaller carrier has denied it will carry the iPhone in the short term.
"T-Mobile remains an independent company," read a note posted on T-Mobile's corporate Website in March. "The acquisition is expected to be completed in approximately 12 months. We do not offer the iPhone. We offer cutting-edge devices like the Samsung Galaxy S 4G and, coming soon, our new Sidekick 4G."
For its part, Sprint remains close-lipped about any potential iPhone deal, with CEO Dan Hesse claiming during a recent earnings call that he was unable to comment on "potential discussions" with any suppliers.
Current rumors suggest the next iPhone will include an A5 processor and more powerful cameras, and possibly NFC (near-field communications) technology, which would allow the smartphone to make electronic purchases when placed in proximity of a special reader. Given Apple's cone of silence, though, any hardware or software rumors about the (possibly) upcoming device should be taken with the usual grain of salt.