The expected release date for Apple's iPhone 5 is approaching, with predictors saying the Cupertino, Calif.-based company will unveil the device Sept. 12. As this day draws near, rumors about the next-generation smartphone's features have begun to leak online.

French blog, known for publishing alleged iPhone 5 leaks, has just posted what is believed to be the new mini dock connector alongside the current-generation dock connector, according to AppleInsider. The French blog is the same source where the first alleged photos of the mini dock connector were found last month.

The images posted Saturday indicate the purported 9-inch format is nearly the same size as the Micro USB plug, although there have been rumors it would be thinner and longer.

Each Apple USB connector, like most others, features a housing in which contact pins are located. These pins are arranged in a linear manner, leaving space for a counterpart component to interface, as AppleInsider acknowledged. The current 30-pin dock connector is also built on this same principle, but the rumored next-generation unit is said to boast a more "robust male/female system."

Sources have said Apple's new plug will feature a refreshed layout in which eight pins are exposed on either side of a metal shell. This shell serves as a ninth contact, and users will no longer have to ensure the connector is right side up when inserting it into a device.

The difference between the current-generation component and the alleged new dock connector is obvious when compared side-by-side. The tinier component allows users to clearly see the number of pins featured in the dock connector, while the previous model has the pins enclosed in a metal casing.

Last month, iLounge shared the first photos of Apple accessories that will be compatible with the iPhone 5's new, smaller dock connector. An anonymous tipster provided iLounge with the photos, which depict electronic accessories from manufacturer Scosche Industries.

These included the syncABLE Pro, a dual-device wall charger, and reNUE Pro, a dual-device car charger. These charging products will come with a cable that converts the micro-USB plug into a "new Apple connector" and will come in different versions featuring varying levels of output.

The website also posted a photo of the alleged iPhone 5 case with an iPhone 4S inside it. The image outlined the differences in the audio and docking holes within the device.

LTE Seems Likely For iPhone 5

Details on other features expected to come with the iPhone 5 have also begun to leak more frequently lately. The Wall Street Journal recently reported the iPhone 5 will feature 4G LTE networks in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. However, this functionality may not be available via all carriers immediately at launch.

It has been widely speculated that Apple's iPhone 5 will come equipped with 4G LTE, making it comparable with rival Samsung's equivalent offering. The South Korea-based manufacturer released its flagship Galaxy S3 device with the fourth-generation speedy Internet feature capability in May. Apple unveiled its first 4G LTE-enabled device in March when it announced the new Retina display iPad, but this will be the first time it will offer a smartphone with that capability.

However, when Apple rolled out its LTE-enabled iPads this year, many users faced problems with connecting to LTE when using certain carriers in different areas. Users in the U.S. were only able to connect to LTE when using Verizon, and users in Canada had to subscribe to either Bell Canada or Rogers Communications to experience LTE coverage.

But when the iPhone 5 release date arrives, Verizon may not be the only U.S. carrier servicing the new iPhone's owners. It was reported that AT&T has expanded its LTE coverage to nine new markets, and it plans to roll it out to 40 other new areas by the end of the year. This is a clear attempt by the company to prevent its current customers from switching to Verizon when the next-generation iPhone launches.

The Wall Street Journal's report that Apple will be bringing 4G LTE coverage to Europe and Asia aligns with previous rumors that surfaced last month. U.K. communications regulator Ofcom granted approval to Everything Everywhere, the parent company of mobile service providers T-Mobile and Orange, to launch the first 4G LTE network beginning Sept. 11. This is just one day before Apple's scheduled press event in the U.S., where the iPhone 5 is likely to make its first appearance.

Apple has reportedly been in negotiations with two carriers in South Korea as well, CNET said last month. Executives at SK Telecom and KT allegedly revealed this information to the Korea Times.

Preparing For The Big Day

Apple has begun preparing the Yerba Buena Center for its flagship event of the year this week. Ahead of the Sept. 12 unveiling, the company has reportedly began wrapping the venue in colorful banners, alluding to what's to come.

The banners currently being installed hint Apple will unveil a refreshed line of iPods, which will be available in a wide array of colors. As AppleInsider reported, the banners evoke imagery of the brightly colored versions of the previously released iPods, which were announced in 2010.

At the event, Apple is expected to focus on the iPhone 5, iOS 6, and its new iCloud features. The revelation of new iPods is a more recent rumor, with previous speculation being that an iPad Mini would be announced that day.

Fans will have to wait until Sept. 12 rolls around to see which rumors about the iPhone 5 actually turn out to be true. To see photos of the brightly colored banners, visit AppleInsider. To see the images of the alleged new mini dock connector, visit