(CNN) — Gadget fans waitinganxiously for the next iPhone to be released may be reaching the home stretch.
Apple,which has made no official announcement, is planning a September 12 event atwhich the next generation of the iconic smartphone will presumably beannounced, according to multiple reports.
iMore, an Apple-oriented blog wasthe first to report that “sources who have proven accurate in thepast” said the phone will be introduced at an event that day and releasednine days later. Observers are calling it the iPhone 5, although no name hasbeen announced.
Others, including The Wall Street Journal’s All Things D Blog, followed withsimilar reports. Quoting anonymous sources at Apple, All Things D said an eventis planned for the week of September 9. The 12th would be a Wednesday, whichfollows with previous Apple events.
A September release would be slightly ahead of Apple’s establishedone-iPhone-per-year pace. But the iPhone 4S took longer than usual, its Octoberunveiling coming about 16 months after the iPhone 4.
A fall iPhone release has been considered a foregone conclusion by mostobservers for months. Speculation has focused on a handful of expected new features,including a slightly larger screen, a smaller dock connector and NFC technologythat would make it easier for shoppers to make payments through their phones.
iMore also says that the mythical “iPad Mini” will be unveiled at theevent. Speculation has increasingly ramped up that Apple, faced by competitionfrom Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus 7 tablets, is making a smallerverison of the I-Pad.
The move would fly in the face of statements made by the late Apple CEO SteveJobs, who favored full-size tablets. But Apple faces unprecedented competitionin the space and may argue that screen technology that would have made asmaller iPad impractical before is now available.
On the smartphone front, Apple also faces a landscape that’s arguably morechallenging than it’s seen in a while. The iPhone is still the most popularhandset in the field, but the total number of phones running Google’s Androidoperating system has been greater for some time.
And while competitors in the past have arguably spent the time between iPhonereleases trying to catch up, many reviewers feel that several models among thecurrent crop of Android phones have surpassed the 4S in terms of features andperformance.
Notably, the Samsung Galaxy S III has topped 10 million in sales in twomonths — a number it took the Galaxy S II five months to hit. Reviewers havepraised its bigger screen, sleek design and a set of new features.
The iPhone 4S was, in some senses, a glorified update of the iPhone 4, with itsadvances coming in new software features and improved camera and display. Itoutsold its predecessor, although with anticipation high for the looming iPhone5, sales have begun to flag.
According to its recent earnings report, Apple shipped 26 million iPhones fromApril to June, which was less than the 28 million to 29 million that Wall Streetanalysts had predicted. It was a steep drop from the 35.1 million that thecompany sold in the previous quarter.