Apple is widely expected to unveil its next generation iPhone, unofficially dubbed the "iPhone 5," at a special event Wednesday, Sept. 12, along with the long-rumored "iPad mini." It all started with a recent report by Rene Ritchie of iMore, who first revealed the expected release dates, followed by a number of news outlets confirming the same.

Ritchie reported, citing "sources who have proven accurate in the past," that Apple would introduce "the new iPhone at a special event on Wednesday, September 12, 2012, with the release date to follow 9 days later on Friday, September 21."

He continued:

"The iPad mini will be announced at the same September 12 event, as will the new iPod nano. We haven't heard a release date for the iPad mini yet, but it could be the same as the iPhone 5. It seems likely the new iPod touch will make an appearance on September 12 as well, though we haven't heard any specific information about that yet either."

On Thursday, another reliable source, John Gruber of Daring Fireball, challenged Ritchie's report of iPhone 5 and iPad mini sharing the same stage at the next month's event. He said that the iPhone being "the most important single product in Apple's lineup," the upcoming iteration of the device is not likely to share the spotlight with another new product from the Cupertino tech giant. He opined that there could be two separate events.

"I don't think Apple would want reviews of both a new iPhone and new-size iPad appearing at the same time," Gruber said. "Why share the spotlight? Why have another Apple product battling with the iPhone for the top spots in news coverage? So I thought, well, maybe they'd only seed the review units of the iPhone on September 12, with the new-size iPad going into reviewer hands a few weeks later."

According to Gruber, it would make more sense if Apple calls shareholders and spectators to an event that is solely focused on iPhone 5 and iOS 6. Once the new iPhone is shipped nine days later (Friday, Sept. 21), "another wave of iPhone-focused attention" would grab the attention as the early reviews of the handset would start coming in.

Then, a few days later, it would be time for Apple to announce the iPad mini at its traditional "music event" in the first or second week of October, an event in which the company has been releasing new iPods for the last decade.

The Loop's well-connected Jim Dalrymple, well-known for his "yep" responses to Apple-related rumors, seemed to agree with what Gruber says about Apple's plans. On Gruber's take on the impending Apple release dates, Dalrymple simply commented - "Oh that Gruber is a smart fellow."

Considering Dalrymple's track record regarding Apple-oriented gossips, his somewhat positive response does add weight to Gruber's calculated speculation.

Although Dalrymple responded "Yep" regarding Ritchie's report on the Sept. 12 Apple event too, he, as Gruber pointed out, apparently agreed to what was related to the new iPhone, but not the iPad mini.

"Careful readers may notice that in Jim Dalrymple's "Yep" regarding Ritchie's scoop on the September 12 event date, the blockquoted text only includes the portion regarding the iPhone," Gruber said.

When it comes to features, the new iPhone is highly expected to have a much-improved processor, a larger 4-inch display with 640 x 1136 resolutions and iOS 6. Other likely features include a 4G LTE technology, Near Field Communication (NFC), 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.

In terms of the iPad mini, it's rumored to sport a 7.85-inch 1024x768 display with 163 ppi. The pricing of the device is expected to be between $249 and $299.

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