There has been growing rumors that Apple's next-generation iPhone 5 would be seen in the hands of consumers in the first week of October.

Apple Inc. will issue press invitations to the iPhone 5 launch Sept. 14 and it will take place in the San Francisco Bay Area on Sept. 21, according to CultofMac. The smartphone will be released in early October with pre-orders starting Sept. 28.

This forecast falls in line with reports of Best Buy passing on the message to its employees that the iPhone 5 could be released in the first week of October.

Speculations are rife that Apple will update the iPhone 4 model to iPhone 4S, which is expected to serve as entry level model along with iPhone 5.

Foxconn Electronics is reportedly producing up to 150,000 handsets of the next -generation iPhone per day in a surprising move as supply chain sources indicate that iPhone 5 shipments are expected to reach up to 6 million by the end of the month and will reach 22 million units by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, analysts at Jefferies are expecting the iPhone 5 to launch in October on all four major U.S. carriers, and expecting Broadcom to keep the Bluetooth/WiFi socket in that device.

The analysts also believe that Avago Technologies will have several power amps and potentially FBAR filters in the iPhone 5 and, therefore expect it to benefit as a relatively new iPhone supplier in the fourth quarter of 2011 and 2012.

There has been huge expectation for the features of the iPhone 5, which will boast significant hardware and software upgrades.

Take a look at the most-rumored iPhone 5 features:

iOS 5: Apple's newest mobile operating system version iOS 5 was announced at the WWDC 2011 keynote address on June 6. The new OS comes with 200 new features that will include Improved Notifications System, News Stand and iMessage. It will also feature new applications, such as the Reminders app and Newsstand, an application resembling Folders and iBooks.

iCloud: iPhone 5 is expected to feature the new iCloud service in operating iTunes for wireless remote access of music from all computers and mobile devices. The iCloud will also store photos, apps, calendars and documents without storing them onto the phone's memory storage.

Design: Apple products are known for their beautiful design. iPhone 5 is expected to adopt a teardrop design that is supposed to be slimmer and lighter than past iPhone models.

The new smartphone will come with an aluminum plate casing rather than the current glass backing. Rumors suggest a more uniformed design across all of Apple's mobile devices as aluminum may be the consistent material used in the upcoming iPad 3 and iPod lineups as well.

Hardware: Several of Apple's rivals, mainly LG, Motorola and Samsung have already released dual-core processor phones. According to a recent media report from 9to5Mac, Apple gave its developers a dual-core iPhone 4 to allow them to prep for the iPhone 5.

It is expected that iPhone 5 will integrate a faster 1.2 to 1.5 GHz dual core A5 processor chip, which powers the iPad 2, with probably a 1GB RAM. With upgraded hardware, the iPhone 5 will be equipped with speed in processing information and apps besides obtaining lighter hardware parts to decrease the device's weight.

In addition to a new processor, new elements such as a SIM-less design or an embedded SIM could help in reducing the iPhone 5's physical thickness. Among other chipsets, a Broadcom BCM4330 could be integrated for its WiFi and Bluetooth.

Flash Camera: In the tech world, a 5-megapixel camera seems passé -- as sad as that might sound to some -- it's true. Like the dual core processor, several of iPhone's competitors in the Android world have phones with 8-megapixel camera.

Hence the rumor mills effortlessly churn out one proof after the other for the next iPhone featuring an 8MP camera. At this point an 8MP camera on the iPhone 5 looks like a foregone conclusion.

According to a CNET report, iPhone 5 will have an improved flash unit for its camera. Citing industry sources, the report says Apple has reduced orders for iPhone 4's current LED flash.

Apart from the rear-facing camera, Apple's smartphone is also expected to have a front-facing one for video chatting. It is expected to include a dual LED flash with rumors that the flash unit will be separated from the camera sensor.

It is also reported that new panoramic imaging features will allow instant panoramic shots with Apple’s stock photo app and have the ability to record 1080p high definition videos.

NFC Payment: There have been reports since early this year that Apple is testing an iPhone that incorporates Near Field Communication technology. Users can simply pay for goods by waving their iPhone in front of a contactless payment scanner.

Mobile-payment services using NFC will be a hot segment in the future. The technology could offer features that allow multiple mobile devices to sync for speedier information exchange and gaming.

It was also said that Apple had disclosed in some of the meetings that it won't feature NFC on the next iPhone. The Independent said that Apple will sacrifice NFC in its next iPhone due to lack of industry standards about the technology.

Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi cited that Apple will not adopt the NFC-based mobile payment feature in the upcoming iPhone 5 until Apple is convinced that the technology's chicken-and-egg-problem is solved, as the NFC requires widespread consumer adoption and critical mass with merchants.

But analysts at Jefferies expect Apple to come out with another iPhone, which will likely be named as iPhone 5S, in 2012 that will have NFC payment feature.

4G: There have been a lot of rumors regarding the possibility of the iPhone 5 being available on 4G networks for AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. The consensus from analysts and tech experts seems to be that the iPhone 5 will not have 4G support.

Peter Misek, analyst at Jefferies & Co. had stated that Apple will not release a 4G LTE in iPhone 5 this year as Qualcomm’s LTE chipset, which Apple would have used, were not reaching the yields that Apple expects for its iPhone 5.

Instead, Misek recently stated that as the new iPhone in October will most likely be called the iPhone 5, he believes the LTE iPhone will likely be named the iPhone 5S and launched in Summer 2012 (though it could come earlier).

More Carriers: With new chipsets that the iPhone 5 may integrate, the ability for the smatphone to work across more carriers is becoming a higher probability. Misek expects the iPhone 5 to be available on all four major U.S. carriers -- Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile -- in October.

According to Piper Jaffray, via CNET, the most noteworthy change to Apple's next-generation iPhone is that it'll be offered by Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile, on top of existing carriers AT&T and Verizon.

Memory: Apple iPhone 4 comes in 16GB and 32GB. But it is expected that iPhone 5 will have 16/32/64 GB internal storage.

World Phone with SIM-less Design: Making it a worldphone, the iPhone 5 is rumored to feature a new SIM-less design with two to three internal antennas for CDMA and GSM compatibility.

Model: It is expected that iPhone 5 will be coming in Black as well as White model.

Wireless Charging: A revolutionary way of charging mobile devices may see iPhone 5 gain mass appeal. The inductive wireless charging technology for the iPhone could juice up its battery without the use of cables and plugs. By utilizing a charging dock, the iPhone can charge its battery as well as share, sync, or backup data at the same time.