We know one thing: Apple is hosting an iPhone-themed event Oct. 4 at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.
Beyond that, speculation abounds about Apple's plans for moving its smartphone franchise into the future. For weeks, increasing chatter suggested Apple was gearing up to reveal the next iPhone, which the media has dubbed "iPhone 5." According to a recent report by AllThingsD, whose sources accurately called that Oct. 4 event date, Apple CEO Tim Cook will take the stage to introduce the device.
At this point, various news outlets seem to agree that the next iPhone, whatever its name, will include Apple's more powerful A5 processor, an 8-megapixel camera and perhaps an overall redesign.
The bigger question is whether Apple plans to unveil one iPhone or two. In September, former Vice President Al Gore, a member of Apple's board of directors, reportedly told a conference about "new iPhones coming out next month."
His use of the plural refueled rumors that Apple plans on releasing a line of lower-cost iPhones, with an eye toward combating the midmarket Android devices that have swallowed up a sizable portion of the mobility market in recent years.
One reason for Android's strength is its presence on multiple carriers, something Apple could counter during the Oct. 4 event by announcing that Sprint is joining Verizon and AT&T as iPhone carriers in this country.
Following previous rumors that Sprint would carry Apple's next iPhone, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimated that such a move would boost the smartphone's overall sales by 6 million units. A Sprint iPhone would also leave T-Mobile as the only major U.S. carrier without an Apple phone in its portfolio, unless AT&T manages to complete its planned T-Mobile acquisition in the face of federal scrutiny. (T-Mobile's parent company, Deutsche Telekom AG, has offered the iPhone for years in Germany.)
Apple's next line of mobility devices will certainly run iOS 5, a major upgrade to the company's mobile operating system. New features include boosted interoperability with Twitter and a Newsstand application that consolidates e-periodical subscriptions. Apple is also launching an iCloud service, which will sync user content across various iOS devices via the cloud.
Apple could use the Oct. 4 event to announce new iPods. The company usually reserves a September event for unveiling revamps to its multimedia-player line, something that didn't happen this year.