Apple is highly expected to release its sixth generation iPhone, presumably called the iPhone 5, at some point of time later this year and if ongoing rumors turn to be true, the handset will get major upgrade in terms of its current form factor.

Talks about the next iPhone receiving a longer 4-inch display and a redesigned casing have been around for quite some time now. What has been added to the rumor-mill lately is a quad-core processor. Even more interesting is the claim that the processor will be based on Samsung's Exynos 4 architecture, found in the international versions of the Samsung Galaxy S3.

The news came from DigiTimes, which cited its industry sources as saying that Apple is expected to launch its next-generation iPhone built on Samsung's Exynos 4 quad-core processor in the second half of this year, heating up competition in the segment.

The Cupertino tech giant released iPhone 4S last year with a custom dual-core processor, dubbed by Apple the A5, that clocked at 800 Mhz. People, therefore, expected the company to unveil a true next generation chip with the release of its third gen iPad. But Apple decided to go with an evolutionary upgrade over the A5 processor, naming it the A5X.

According to AppleInsider, the most significant change with the A5X processor was an updated integrated graphics processor. The GPU was upgraded to quad-core to push the 3.1 million pixels found on the new iPad's high-resolution Retina display while the CPU remained dual core only.

If Apple does build a quad-core ARM CPU for its next iPhone, the upgrade could presumably be significant enough to earn the chip the 'A6' distinction, said the report.

Cody Lee of iDownloadBlog is also betting on the possibility of an A6 processor powering the upcoming iPhone iteration.

Considering the size of the upgrade, it's possible that the new processor could come with the long-awaited 'A6′ badge, a chip that Apple has been rumored to be working on for quite some time, Lee said.

Apart from Samsung, other manufacturers like HTC, LG and Meizu have launched their own quad-core smartphones in the second quarter of 2012. Considering that Apple is also expected to go quad-core this time with the next model of its flagship smartphone to heat up competition.

iPhone 5 News Blog, on the other hand, didn't seem to be convinced by the DigiTimes report. According to it, Apple has never been one to worry as much about the competition when it comes to hardware upgrades.

The report pointed to iPhone's current display size and explained:

While its Android-powered competitors have far surpassed the screen dimensions of the iPhone, Apple (to this point) has remained steadfast in its smaller screen. With this design ethic in mind, it's hard to imagine that Apple would simply throw in a quad-core A6 processor, unless the quad core architecture would contribute to higher performance for the iPhone 5.

And even though the A6 might not end up being Apple's first quad core mobile chip simply because the GS3 is quad core, well, it still won't hurt to match them tit for tat in the processing department - and least for those in the marketplace who care about quad core versus dual core.

Other than a much-improved processor, the rumors surrounding the iPhone 5 say that the future flagship Apple phone will feature a larger 4-inch Retina display, 4G LTE technology, Near Field Communication (NFC) and a smaller dock connector. Other rumored features and specs also include 1GB RAM, iOS 6, improved Siri, liquidmetal casing, an 8 megapixel (or even higher) rear camera, a 2 megapixel front-facing camera for video chatting and a much-improved battery life.

As far as the release date of the device is concerned, the speculations are around betting on both September and October launch for the iPhone 5.

Analyst Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee said in a note to investors last month that Apple's next generation iPhone is expected to arrive in October, full 12 months after the release of the iPhone 4S last October. On the other hand, J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz said last week that the device should be launched in September, ramping up production throughout the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, the Apple iPhone celebrated its fifth anniversary June 29, and according to Strategy Analytics' statistics, ever since the first iPhone launch on June 29, 2007, Apple has shipped 250 million iPhones worldwide, generating $150 billion in cumulative revenues.