As Apple gearing up for the release of its next generation iPhone, presumably named the iPhone 5, amazing hype surrounds the smartphone with rumors confounding customers about when the device will finally be launched and what the features will be on board.

Considering the growing popularity of Google's Android operating system and its increasing deployment by leading smartphone manufacturers like Samsung and HTC in their flagship mobile devices, the so-called smartphone battle is expected to reach a crescendo once Apple unleashes the upcoming iPhone model later this year.

Here's our take on the top iPhone 5 rumors till date ranging from its expected release date to the most talked about features.

Release Date: According to some earlier reports, Apple was expected to launch iPhone 5 at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June this year. The reports suggested that the June launch of the next iPhone would bring an end to an eight-months-long life span of the current iPhone 4S.

But a recent report in Japanese blog Macotakara brought a new twist to the whole plot saying that Apple is to abandon mid-year launches and to consider a 12-month iPhone upgrade cycle starting in the fall. According to Asian reliable source, next iPhone will be released in September or October, and this cycle seems to be kept for years, the Macotakara report said.

Another report by iMore was also in line with that of Macotakara, which said the iPhone-maker might launch its next smartphone in October this year.

Highly Expected Features

The Internet is full of speculations about what the new iPhone will possibly bring. Various reports have listed out a number of features, which they believe would give Apple's brand new gadget a significant edge over its rivals.

Revamped form Factor: Earlier reports suggested that iPhone 5 would adopt a teardrop design. But those speculations are passé now. Contrary to them, the new iPhone is very likely to be symmetrical in shape, with an aluminum rear panel reinforced by glossy plastic or rubberized bezel. The phone is also expected to be thinner, longer and wider to have room for a larger screen.

There are reports which suggested that iPhone 5 will be the first of its kind to be waterproof. Rumors are rife that the device will feature a special nano-coating system covering it both inside and outside to make it water repellent. Will iPhone 5 be the most durable smartphone ever created?

Higher Display: If the current rumors are to be believed, the next generation iPhone will have 3.7 to 4-inch Quantum Dot LED curved glass edge-to-edge display. Some reports made it even more specific by saying that a high resolution (1280x720) HD screen with a pixel density of 367ppi is also on the cards.

One of the main grounds on which the rumors of higher pixel density could be believed is Apple would definitely want to outdo rival devices with bigger screens. iPhone 5 with a bigger screen and more pixel density in a Retina Display will allow users to watch videos and view images in a much higher resolution.

Why can't iPhone 5 have high pixel density if iPad 3 can double the pixel density of the iPad 2 (as rumored)?

Faster Processor: Rumors about iPhone 5's processor are countless and it is highly possible that an A5 processor, currently on iPad 2, will power the new iPhone.

However, some other reports also talked about a super-fast (1.2 to 1.5 GHz) A6 quad-core processor with 1GB or more of RAM to offer amazing processing capabilities to the smartphone.

According to a recent report by Slash Gear, Apple is likely working on two new processors this year for iPad 3 and iPhone 5. While the quad-core A6 could be included in the nexr iPad, a new A5X chip may power the next-gen iPhone, the report added.

Upgraded Operating System: Every new Apple device comes with an upgraded version of the company's mobile operating system - iOS.

Considering the iOS 5.1 betas already out for developers, many Apple observers are speculating that iPad 3 will be launched with iOS 5.1 on board early this month, and an update to iOS 6.0 is possible by the time of the iPhone 5 release later this year.

Support for 4G LTE & NFC: Though there was no clear reason for the delayed release of iPhone 4S, yet many analysts believe that it was Apple's failed attempt to implement Long-Term Evolution (LTE) into the phone that hold back the much-awaited launch.

Now, there is even higher chance that LTE will be incorporated in Apple's next iPhone.

Qualcomm has reportedly developed a new, thinner and smaller LTE chipset and it is expected to be featured in iPad 3.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, AT&T and Verizon Wireless are both planning to sell iPads with LTE capabilities. If iPad 3 gets LTE in March, there's hardly any doubt about the new iPhone losing the technology.

iPhone 5 is also rumored to pack the Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

In January, a 9to5Mac report talked about a conversation between one of their reporters and a well-connected developer at the recent Macworld convention. The developer claimed to be building an application that includes the ability to process mobile transactions using the NFC technology.

Rumors about Apple planning to introduce NFC in its future products have been around for quite some time now. The New York Times reported even before the launch of iPhone 4S that a forthcoming iPhone would feature NFC. Since it did not turn out to be iPhone 4S, it could well be the one on the cards.

According to Smart Money, Apple and other smartphone manufacturers will inevitably feature NFC technology in their devices.

Improved Camera: Considering Android smartphones coming with 8 megapixel camera, iPhone 5 is highly expected to feature a much improved camera compared to the one present in iPhone 4S. Some speak about 8 megapixel or even 10 megapixel camera and the possibility to take pictures in panorama mode. Another rumor indicated that iPhone 5 will even have a 3D camera.

Enhanced Battery Life: The notorious battery bug in iPhone 4S and other iOS 5 devices annoyed many lately. According to rumors, Apple is working on the issue and would hopefully be able to do away with it.

It's expected that the iPhone 5 will have a better battery life than the Li-Po 1420 mAh battery in the iPhone 4S that gives up to 8 hours of talk time on 3G and up to 14 hours on 2G (GSM).

As per Apple's record-breaking Q1 2012 earnings, the Cupertino tech giant successfully sold 37 million iPhones, 15.4 million iPads and 5.2 million Macs in the last 14 weeks.

For the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2011, Apple's overall earnings was $46.33 billion. It earned $13.1 billion in profit and $17.5 billion in cash.

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