It seems that one of the leading U.S. service providers could be preparing for the iPhone 5's launch. Earlier this week, BGR reported that a "trusted AT&T" source said that the carrier is planning to launch Apple's next-generation iPhone in the third or fourth week of September. An all-hands-on-deck policy will be put in place for employees, which will extend though the middle of October.
In addition, a second source from AT&T confirmed to BGR that a large training event for regional employees has been moved from the first week of October due to a "major announcement."
The above supports previous rumors that indicated the iPhone 5 release date would come on Sept. 21 with an unveiling and pre-order launch beginning on Sept. 12. These rumors were initially reported by Rene Ritchie of iMore, and have circulated among various websites around the web since.
The current generation iPhone 4S was released around the same time last year in October, and it seems as if the Cupertino, Calif.-based company will maintain this fall release schedule.
According to Apple Insider, Apple's financial chief Peter Oppenheimer spoke to a group of analysts on Thursday, saying that there is seemingly infinite opportunity for growth in China.
"They don't see a ceiling," Brian Marshall, an analyst with ISI Group, said according to Apple Insider. The comments were made in a note to clients written by Marshall after a conference call between ISI Group and the Apple CFO. "Many consumers can't yet afford a car or home but want to carry and show a great product," he added.
Oppenheimer also indicated that he is "very excited" about new retail opportunities in China during the conference call, saying that Apple plans to open retail locations in Bejing and Shanghai.
"Foxconn already has factories in China and Brazil. And not yet one in Southeast Asia," Ali Soebroto Oentayo, chairman of Indonesia's electronics association, told Reuters. "I think Indonesia is a right decision from a market perspective."
With the launch of the its next iPhone, Apple may need to expand its presence. The release date for the iPhone 5 "will be the biggest handset launch in history," Jeffries analyst Peter Misek wrote in a research note on Friday, reported eWeek.
According to Jeffries, 170 million global smartphone subscribers will be coming out of contracts in the second half of 2012. In 2013, 450 million more will be free of their contracts, and the firm believes that approximately 30 million iPhone users will finish their contracts in the second half of 2012.
"We therefore see significant and very fertile ground for the iPhone 5's success," Misek wrote.
The company expects Apple to have approximately 15 million iPhone 5 units in inventory by the middle of September. Aligning with previous rumors, the firm predicts that the Sept. 12 even will announce the iPhone 5 and possibly the iPad Mini. The iTV is least likely of the three to be unveiled, Jeffries says.
"While we think an iTV will be ready for a [fourth-quarter] launch, we do not know how many major product announcements Apple would want to cram into Sept./Oct./Nov. and see a [first quarter] launch as possible," Misek wrote.
It was also recently reported that Apple has been negotiating with Korean network carriers concerning iPhone 5 4G LTE connectivity. Officials from SK Telecom and KT allegedly revealed this information to the Korea Times.
"KT is in negotiation with Apple to persuade the latter to support KT's 1.8 gigahertz frequency in Korea for the upcoming iPhone," a senior KT executive said to the Korea Times. A spokesperson for KT has declined to comment.
In addition to LTE connectivity, Apple's iPhone 5 is expected to come with a host of new features. Below is a list of alleged functions that are expected to appear on the next-generation Apple handset.
- 4-inch display
- Improved quad-core processor, likely manufactured using 32nm process tech
- Improved graphics and a better camera
- New Dock connection, likely to be Thunderbolt or mini-USB
- Tougher glass
- Thinner chassis
- International support for those 4G/LTE networks which exist
- Much-improved iCloud integration
- iOS 6: many improvements in Siri
- iOS 6: Apple Maps
- iOS 6: Passbook, potentially though not necessarily featuring NFC payment support
- iOS 6: Facebook and Twitter integration
- Bigger, thinner front plate
- In-Cell touch panels
- Redesigned speaker grills
- Migrated FaceTime Camera
- Migrated Earphone Jack
- New Camera Opening
- Advanced Haptics
- OLED Display
- Near-Field Communication
- The iWallet
- Apple Avatars
- The Photographer's Timer
- 3D Photography
- 3D Object Recognition
- Multiplayer Gaming
These features come from various rumors floating around the web, discovered Apple patents, and the words of Apple executives during conference calls. However, fans will have to wait until next month to see if the release date for Apple's iPhone 5 matches up to the rumors.