Apple will not launch its fabled iPhone 5 in September during the iPod refresh event.

The primary reason for the delay is that Apple's iOS 5 will be launched in fall which Apple confirmed at the WWDC event. However, Apple failed to give the exact date but merely stated the iOS 5 arrival date as this fall. The fall stretches from September to November.

Incidentally, BGR reported that Google will launch its pure Android 4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich version phone the Nexus 4G around thanksgiving. The phone is touted to be an absolute beast with an ear-to-ear monster-sized screen.

However, Apple will be worried more about the OS, the Android Ice Cream Sandwich rather than the hardware which the phone will grace. Ice Cream Sandwich OS unifies the features of tablet-specific Android Honeycomb and smartphone specific OS Gingerbread. Ice Cream Sandwich will usher in features like flexibility to resize widgets and apps, facial recognition (thus the camera can track a user's facial features like Microsoft Kinect) and will allows users to use an Android device as a USB host to connect with multiple devices like keypad and Xbox controller. It will later use Bluetooth to communicate with other devices.

Ice Cream Sandwich UI is expected to have the Honeycomb feel. Google demonstrated some features of the Ice Cream Sandwich at Google I/O. The underlying Ice Sandwich philosophy is One OS that runs everywhere. The OS is Google's most ambitious release.

Moreover, Ice Cream Sandwich brings support for Flash videos.

The Ice Cream Sandwich would be featured on the Nexus 4G. It is reported that the phone will sport a 1.2 GHz or 1.5GHz microchip, possibly Krait-based Snapdragon chip. It will have a 5MP rear-facing and 1MP front-facing camera and will offer 1080p video capture and playback. The 5MP camera is surmised to be an advanced 5 MP sensor capable of delivering enhanced low-light performance.

Apple's iOS 5 brings 200 new features with the most prominent being iMessage which allows users to send free SMS to other iOS devices over Wi-Fi and 3G. Another key feature is Notifications Center which pools in notifications originating from various sources and displays them at the top of the status bar. It also offers Twitter integration which allows users to have a single sign-in for Twitter and related apps.

Other features that iOS 5 will include are voice recognition, NFC-enabled mobile payment option, Thunderbolt (which allows users to connect up to 9  devices with a single cable) and possibly glasses-free 3D capability -to counter HTC's EVO 3D.

Apple was sanctioned a 3D patent in December 2010 which relates to glasses-free 3D viewing technology. The patent was filed under the rubric Three-dimensional display system. The technology used ascertains the position of a viewer and determines the left and right eye locations, and then uses the information to navigate the pixels to a particular spot on screen which reflects it back to respective left and right eye locations.

In the light of what Ice Cream Sandwich will bring and the work at Apple's hands to tweak its iOS 5, the delay in iPhone 5 looks imminent.

The delay has given rise to rumors that Apple could possibly release iPhone 4S - which would offer minor hardware upgrades like dual-core A5 chip, bigger screen, and 8MP camera. The above stated enhancements will place the iPhone in the same footing as Android superphones like Motorola Photon, Atrix, HTC Sensation and Samsung Galaxy S 2.

However, earlier experience with iPad 2 reveals, that even minor changes can tilt the balance in Apple's favor. The iPad 2 brought in slimmer and lighter frame and a faster microchip keeping other features constant and it was enough to beat the Android tablets like Motorola Xoom and RIM PlayBook.

Similarly a stop-gap arrangement like an iPhone 4S can give Apple time to sharpen its iPhone 5 to not play catch-up but once again set the benchmark for Androids to follow.

Apple is not only facing threat from Android but also from Nokia as its CEO Stephen Elop has confirmed that Nokia will start selling Windows Phone later this year. Microsoft previewed its updated version of WP7 called the Mango last month. Mango brings in 500 new features which are centered on communications, apps and internet. It contextualizes content and apps around subject-specific hubs and integrates with its online cloud-based services like Microsoft Office 365, Xbox Live and SkyDrive services.

In the light of the competition and the gargantuan list of expectations it faces, Apple can be excused the delay provided iPhone 5 delivers them.