Technology giant Apple’s next generation iPhone, dubbed iPhone 5, could be launched as early as August and would boast of revolutionary software and hardware changes, including a radical new case design, rather than just feature minor upgrades as previously thought.

According to Boy Genius Report (BGR), the next generation iPhone could launch as early as August this year and is expected look radically different from the current iPhone 4. BGR cited a “reliable source” as saying that Apple is working on a radical new case design.

Some analysts agree with BGR's report as Apple is always on the bleeding edge of industry design. They feel that with the launch of a slew of high-end Android smartphones, Apple is also feeling the heat up its neck. And if the iPhone launch is delayed till next year, it could be fatal for Apple as consumers are increasingly being lured away by Android smartphones that offer similar features and specs, if not better.

Moreover, for iPhone to remain the gold standard in the smartphone industry, the next generation iPhone shouldn't just feature software upgrades. The new iPhone must boast of revolutionary changes for it to remain a game changer, the analysts said.

Hence, it is not surprising to see people expect that the new iPhone aka iPhone 5 will not only be ultra-thin but also it will boast of a tapered design with a curved glass display (This is My Next site has an excellent rendering of what the new iPhone could look like).

The iPhone 5 is also expected to run on Apple's new powerful dual-core A5 processor and sport a bigger edge-to-edge 4-inch screen.

Other rumors include:

> The iPhone 5 will use aluminum backing of the original iPhone instead of the glass casing.
> The iPhone 5 will look more like the iPod Touch than an iPhone and feature a teardrop design, like the MacBook Air.
> The iPhone 5 will have improved antenna (no more Antennagate, yay!)
> The iPhone 5 will have more RAM
> The iPhone 5 will have better camera (perhaps 8-megapixel)

Rumors that the iPhone 5 will show up in August is the latest to hit the Internet.

Earlier, market analysts said a September launch is imminent and the next generation iPhone's launch will be announced at Apple's annual September event where it has till now customarily launched newer iPod models.

Beginning this year, While major mobile hardware (all iPod models, iPhone, and possibly iPad) changes will be announced in September and Apple will use June WWDC event to announce big software changes, the analysts said.

According to Brian White, an analyst for Ticonderoga Securities, Apple would probably put off iPhone 5 launch for September, when the company begins its new financial year, rather than launch it within months of the launch of the white iPhone 4, which is doing extremely well.

The September launch will also help Apple tide over problems related to supply delay, the analyst said.

Agrees Chris Caso at Susquehanna Financial. Our checks at multiple levels of the supply chain point to a one-to-two-month delay in the production start for the next-generation iPhone vs. our earlier view of a July production start, Caso wrote in a note to clients.

A recent news that printed circuit board (PCB) suppliers in Taiwan have noticed disappointing orders for iPhone and iPad also suggest that Apple's highly anticipated next-generation iPhone is imminent and it could hit the market as early as September. The PCB suppliers, which are cutting hardware sales expectations in the second quarter by 10 percent, are Compeq Manufacturing, Nan Ya PCB, Tripod Technology and Unimicron Technology.

An October/November launch date has also not been ruled out as Apple might want the new iPhone to hit the market with the iOS 5 pre-installed. The iOS 5's launch has been scheduled for Fall.

The reason Apple might want the new iPhone to run on iOS 5 is because iOS 5 gives users immediate access to Apple's ambitious cloud-based photo, video, music and data backup and pushout service called iCloud.

And, there's no better and faster way of letting people try out iCloud than selling the new iPhone with iOS 5 pre-installed.

In fact, there are reports that Apple has thrown all its weight behind iOS 5 and has even called a halt to launch and sale of the new MacBook Air and other mobile products so that they reach the consumers with iOS 5 pre-installed.

Meanwhile, there are also rumors making round that the new iPhone that will be released during or before Fall will be called iPhone 4S as it only will come with some internal updates but no major changes. Apple, according to the rumors, is planning to make a splash in 2012 with the launch of iPhone 5, which will be the real thing, boasting of revolutionary changes, in terms of both hardware and software.

But it doesn't mean any iPhone, if launched later this year and named 4S is not worth a dekko.. If it's true that iOS 5 will power the next generation iPhone, then expect an incredible user experience with iPhone 4S as iOS 5 boasts of 200 new features including:

Improved Notifications System - Scaled beautifully, the new push notifications system is no longer annoying or obtrusive and will be displayed on the lock screen together with stock and weather alerts.

News Stand - Similar to iBooks, News Stand will be dedicated to magazines and newspapers.

Improved Mobile Safari - The mobile web browser now comes with tabbed browsing feature even as the Safari Reader allows users to quickly save stories for later reading in the Reading List.

Reminders - The new Reminders app in iOS 5 now makes it possible to maintain multiple list and save them with dates to alert you. The Reminders has geolocation capabilities i.e. it can send reminders to user based on user location.

Camera – The camera can now be accessed faster as it gets a shortcut on the lock screen. To access, double tap the home button and then tap the camera icon. For taking photos, simply tap the volume up button. Other new camera features include crop and rotate, edit, red eye reduction, auto focus and auto exposure, and auto enhance (using iPhoto).

Mail – The new Mail feature in iOS 5 has seen some significant changes. It now comes with rich text formatting message flagging and draggable addresses. Now entire messages can also be searched.

There are also keyboard enhancements: Now it is possible to drag the keyboard up, split the keyboard (to make it more ergonomic). The size of the keyboard can also be reduced to facilitate thumb-typing.

PC Free Function – iOS 5 is PC free i.e. now there is no need to hook up mobile Apple devices with PC to access iTunes. iOS updates are now possible over the air. iTunes library can also be synced wirelessly via Wi-Fi. iTunes sync is now automatic and possible even while an iOS device is being charged.

Delta updates are also available i.e. software updates are now over the air and you can download only the necessary update and not the entire app/software.

iMessage – iMessage is perhaps the most important feature in iOS 5. The iMessage, which is only available to iOS users, allows sending text and multimedia messages over Wi-Fi and 3G. It comes with read and delivery receipts and real time typing indication. The iMessage can be pushed out to all iOS devices a user owns, thereby allowing, for instance, the user to start a conversation in iPhone and continue the same on an iPad right where it was left off.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, if you're new to iPhone, go ahead and buy the iPhone that Apple will launch next (even if it's called 4S and doesn't boast of any revolutionary changes). You won't regret it because despite hundreds of smartphones being launched in the market, no mobile OS, Android included, can come close to being compared to iOS in terms of finesse, elegance and user experience and iOS 5 is going to widen the gap even more. But if you're already an iPhone user and you're one of the lucky ones who can upgrade soon to a new iPhone at a discounted price, waiting for the next 'real thing' is definitely a good idea even if it means waiting till 2012.