Apple seems ready to launch its next smartphone, sending to media an invite for an Oct. 4 event. "Let's talk iPhone," it reads, below a calendar icon for that date, a clock icon set to 10 a.m., a phone icon and a map icon indicating Apple's Infinite Loop headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.
Increasing chatter over the past few weeks suggested that Apple was gearing up to unveil the next iPhone, popularly dubbed the iPhone 5 by media, sometime in October. Those rumors appear validated. According to a recent report in AllThingsD, Apple CEO Tim Cook, having recently succeeded Steve Jobs as company head, will take to the stage to introduce the device, which could feature Apple's more powerful A5 processor, an 8-megapixel camera and other updated hardware.
The big question on pundits' minds is whether Apple will use the event to unveil one iPhone or two. Earlier this month, a number of other publications reported that former Vice President Al Gore, a member of Apple's board of directors, told a conference audience about "new iPhones coming out next month."
Gore's comments refueled rumors that Apple would release a line of lower-cost iPhones to complement the iPhone 5, with an eye toward combating midmarket Android devices, which have swallowed up a sizable portion of the mobility market in recent years.
Whatever Cook unveils on that stage, it will run iOS 5, a significant update to Apple's mobile operating system. Features include boosted interoperability with Twitter and a Newsstand application that consolidates e-periodical subscriptions. Apple will launch iOS 5 in conjunction with its iCloud service, which will sync user content across various devices via the cloud.
Rumors have also flown fast and furious in recent weeks about a possible iOS appearance on Sprint. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster previously estimated that giving Sprint the iPhone would boost the device's overall sales by 6 million units. A Sprint iPhone would also leave T-Mobile as the only U.S. carrier without an Apple phone in its device portfolio, although the latter's parent company, Deutsche Telekom AG, has offered the iPhone for years in Germany (and is allowing customers to preorder the iPhone 5, although without any mention of a release date or device specs).