For a time there was going to be no new iPhone this year, with reports casting a glum picture of Apple releasing iPhone 5 in 2012 -- much after a legion of Android phones has had a busy time in the marketplace.

And then reports said there would be a surfeit of iPhones: iPhone 4 S, a Lite iPhone with a low price tag, and then the much-anticipated iPhone 5 -- all set to hit deck by the time Fall kicks in. This theory has been refuted since then, and opinion has converged more or less on the iPhone 5 being released in September.

What will be the prominent features/improvements in iPhone 5? The really hot features rumored in iPhone 5 include NFC, an upgraded iOS 5 with cloud-integration, music streaming and voice interface, 4G connectivity, 8MP camera, A5 processor and an embedded social networking tool.

Here's a detailed look at the rumored hot features of iPhone 5:

There have been reports since early this year that Apple is testing iPhone which incorporates Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. NFC technology will enable users to make payments by merely waving the phone near devices which can read the information embedded in the phone.

If Apple equips the next iPhone with NFC, which is considered to be the next wave that revolutionizes mobile and contactless payment technology, it will instantly come on top of the competition. Mobile-payment services using NFC will be a hot segment in the future. However, the absence of an industry standard is impeding wider integration of this feature.

AT&T documents leaked by the hacking group LulzSec suggest that Apple iPhone 5 will offer 4G and will be LTE network compatible. LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is the latest standard in the mobile network technology and is a project of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). Most mobile carriers in the world have plans to convert their networks into LTE, or 4G as it is often called. The current generation of mobile telecommunication networks are known as 3G or third generation.

However, some analysts have said an iPhone-friendly LTE chipset could come only in 2012 owing to supply chain issues. Qualcomm is the supplier of LTE chips and they have been facing yield problems of late. It has been widely reported that Apple was unhappy with the first generation LTE chipsets that make bulkier phones.

4G capability of the iPhone 5 will be a crucial factor in the building of the fourth generation network infrastructure in the US, it has been reported.

And then it is safe to assume that the iPhone 5 will be a world phone which blends GSM and CDMA capabilities. The purported world phone will make iPhone 5 available on a variety of networks across the world.

In all likelihood, iPhone 5 will have an improved flash unit for its camera. It has been reported that Apple has reduced orders for iPhone 4's current LED flash. Earlier, leaked images had suggested that the camera sensor and flash unit would be separated in the new iPhone.

The iPhone 5 will also reportedly have panoramic photo capabilities and 1080p Full HD videos. An iOS code section revealed recently that the next iPhone will let users take panoramic photos with the photo app.

Another feature iPhone 5 will have is stronger gaming capabilities supported by multi-core A5 processor and Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR Series6 mobile graphics processing architecture. Apple could be one of the companies that will get Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR Series6 mobile graphics processing architecture. It has been reported that Imagination Technologies is going to license its latest Rogue processor to six important partners. While it is confirmed that among the six are ST-Ericsson, Texas Instruments and MediaTek, the guess is that Apple is among the list as well.

An edge-to-edge display seems to be highly likely on iPhone 5, going by the endorsement this idea has got from observers and analysts. It is believed that iPhone 5 will have a 4 inch display, within the same encasement. This will be made possible by a technology that extends display over to the edges of the phone.

In March, iDealsChina showed in its website what it said was a leaked image of the iPhone 5 phone. The handset's screen looked larger and the hardware was bigger overall.

There were also reports in the past saying that Apple was spending an amazing $4 billion on some display technology for the new iPhone which would facilitate a much larger display on the same encasement.

There have been rumors about iPhone 5 turning into a social networking tool. If this happens the iPhone 5 is going to become your portable social network. The phone analyses your habits, tastes, lifestyle, aptitudes, travels and the like and finds people who share the same bandwidth. And then it tells you if a potential friend is in the vicinity. Conversely it allows you to be found and befriended by other iPhone 5 users.

It was reported earlier that iPhone 5 will have panoramic photo capabilities and 1080p Full HD videos. An iOS code section revealed that the next iPhone will let users take panoramic photos with the photo app.

There have also been reports that the next iPhone will be fire-proof and will have glasses-free 3D capabilities. According to analysts the iPhone 5 will come pre-loaded with the iOS 5.

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