Apple is facing a lot of pressure this year with Android beating the technology giant in several categories, including the top smartphone spot. However, Apple isn't one to give up easily and expectations are high that with iPhone 5 release Apple will regain its top position in a highly competitive smartphone jungle.

Apple has ruled the smartphone jungle with an iron fist since 2007 when iPhone was first launched. However, in the past 2 years, rival Google's Android-based smartphones have been gaining ground and with various smartphone makers churning out a wide variety of new devices everyday, it was not surprising to hear Google boast recently that about 500,000 new Android devices are being activated everyday. Android's open source platform has also helped it gain popularity among developers and smartphone users alike. This is not good news for Apple.

However, Apple's next generation iPhone, dubbed iPhone 5, is expected to boast of enough firepower to help its maker recover lost ground.

The latest iPhone is expected to boast of cutting edge design that one would generally expect from Apple. Based on rumors from Boy Genius Report, the next iPhone 5 is sure to have a radical new design for its case. It may be using aluminum metal backing rather than the current glass casing. The display will be edge-to-edge with a possible curve glass touchscreen.

The iPhone 5 may be integrating Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to allow users to make payments by a tap or wave of their device at paying stations. The integration may happen soon as Google is leading the drive on Android devices with their own Google Wallet. Apple will need to counter that with a feature of their own.

Apple's iOS 5 also holds an advantage over Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, as it has already been made available to developers. The iOS 5 brings with it upgraded features for notifications, safari browser, camera, mail, and messaging. Notifications no longer come as pop-ups, but with the iPhone's improved stance on multitasking, the notification can now be packaged together in a bar which can be swiped on or off the screen for viewing. Messaging and mail functions can also be synced with Apple devices, so messaging text can start on an iPhone and continue on to an iPad seamlessly. The improved interface and functionality are sure to make the iPhone 5 even more user-friendly.

Inside the iPhone 5 we can expect to see upgraded hardware such as its new dual core A5 processor with 4G and LTE network compatibility. The AT&T documents recently leaked by hacking group LulzSec show an LTE chipset design is in the works and will be supplied by Qualcomm. The A5 processor is the same one that powers Apple's iPad 2 and it can provide enough juice to power iPhone 5's multiple apps and functions.

Another potentially important feature is the iPhone 5's (rumored) 8-megapixel camera, which is a good improvement on iPhone 4's 5-megapixel camera. The new dual LED flash provides more flash power and together with the camera's panoramic photo capture and 1080p HD video capture capabilities, iPhone 5 could soon replace any standalone mid-range digital camera.

The camera in the mobile iOS 5 also promises a quicker launch and response time that will help it to compete with the myTouch 4G's lightning quick shutter-speed.

News has also surfaced that Apple has filed new patents relating to Image Capture Device Having Tilt and/or Perspective Correction, which can enable allows gyroscope and accelerometer sensors to aid in photo capture. if that's true, users of the new iPhone will be able to take clear outdoor snapshots while sitting in a moving car or train. The other patent involves utilizing multiple rear cameras to generate 3D images on the display without the need for 3D glasses.

iPhone 5 release dates have varied from this September to mid-2012. It appears that Apple's late release can give Android more opportunities to build up on its lead. It will be interesting to watch whether Apple will dominate or whether it will be happy to play second fiddle.