The next generation of Apple's smartphone -- whether called the iPhone 4s or the iPhone 5 -- is starting to hit factories, analyst contend, winding up for a September release date.
The consumer electronics giant has contracted out Catcher Technology of China, according to Jefferies & Co.'s Peter Misek, prepping for a production ramp-up in July.
Apple has a new phone coming for sure, but some speculate whether it will be called the iPhone 5, as a follow-up to the current iPhone 4, or if it will simply be the iPhone 4s -- an upgrade to the current.
Misek believes it will be just an upgrade, featuring a faster processor, in line with the upgrade pattern witnessed when Apple moved from the the iPhone 3G to the iPhone 3GS.
Our checks and guidance from Catcher Technologies indicate
component orders beginning for the iPhone 4S, Misek said.
Catcher, the metal casing manufacturer for Apple, raised its outlook for its Q2 and for the second half, suggestion greater scale on its aluminum unibody products, Misek explained.
The analyst also writes that Apple should be able to make 5 million to 10 million iPhone 4S in the September-ending fiscal Q4, and 17 million to 19 million iPhone of various models in that quarter, which would be an increase from his 16 million estimate for the current, June-ending quarter.
Overall builds for the quarter should be solid as well, providing respite from the steady downtick of recent months, he says of Catcher's manufacturing.
Apple is expected to roll out just minor upgrades to the next iPhone, with some analysts predicting a more radical refresh in 2012, when the company is expected to introduce a model with support for high-speed 4G long-term evolution data.
The backbone of the new phone will be the iCloud , however, a new hosted service that will give users access to data and services streamed directly from Apple servers.
Apple has already embarked on what could be the largest data center in the world in Maiden, North Carolina in recent months.
The half a million square feet center will also give Apple massive computing power that users can also exploit and benefit from, like streaming music and video and a digital locker service.