iPhone 5 Could Debut in Fourth Quarter, Verizon CFO Hints

Verizon's chief financial officer hints of a "big smartphone" release in the fourth quarter, what many assume to be Apple's new iPhone.

The latest version of Apple's popular iPhone smartphone may be released in the fourth quarter of this year, Verizon chief financial officer Fran Shammo hinted during the company's quarterly conference call on Thursday. Shammo dropped the hint during the question and answer section of the call, referencing a €œbig smartphone€ release the company expected in that time period.

Rumors have been running rampant on the release of the new iPhone, colloquially referred to as the iPhone 5, with some pegging the release date as soon as August, but the wide majority of reports putting the release sometime in September or October. Several blogs recently reported that the new iPhone was already in production, and Taobao, China's largest e-commerce site, is already offering the device for sale as a preorder, complete with renderings of what the phone will look like, alongside technical specifications, according to a report last week from Reuters.

Whenever it actually debuts, the handset is likely to offer new features to face competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S III and other Google Android-based smartphones, such as Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and near-field communication (NFC) capabilities and a faster quad-core processor. The new iPhone is also expected to sport a larger 4-inch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio and Apple€™s high-definition Retina display, in comparison with the current 3.5-inch screen found on the iPhone 4S.

Adding more grist to the rumor mill was an article this week on the tech blog Boy Genius Report, which said it had confirmed the presence of NFC hardware, integrated 4G LTE radios and a doubling of RAM to 1GB, up from the 512GB of RAM found on the iPhone 4S. The article also claimed the new iPhone is currently in the EVT3 stage€”the third test stage of engineering revisions, but had not yet entered the final design verification testing (DVT) stage, as some other media outlets had reported.

As anticipation for the handset builds, the major carriers are having no problems selling iPhones, as Shammo explained on the call. During the second quarter, Verizon activated 2.7 million iPhones, up from 2.3 million a year ago. During the second quarter, 25 percent of iPhone sales were gross adds or new to Verizon, with 75 percent representing upgrades from existing customers, Shammo said.

Even without a new iPhone to push, Verizon had a banner second quarter. During those three months, the carrier added 888,000 retail postpaid customers and again saw double-digit percentage growth in its year-to-year earnings. In total, the carrier sold 5.9 million smartphones during the quarter and 3.2 million 4G LTE devices.