Apple is all set to unveil its next-generation smartphone next Wednesday, but when can we expect to see the iPhone 5 on store shelves? Reports for the last several months have pegged Friday, Sept. 21 as the new iPhone's alleged release date, and a new report released Friday gives more credence to the rumors.

According to MacRumors and TechCrunch, FedEx is gearing up for a "surge volume event," scheduled between Sept. 21 and 24. FedEx did not explain the reason for this surge, but given the record levels of iPhone pre-orders and Day One orders each year, this shipment surge is likely intended to deal with the incredible levels of demand expected for the new iPhone 5.

"Due to the upcoming 'surge volume' event between Sep 21-24, this class has been postponed to the week of Nov 5-9 and you have automatically been moved to that class," said an internal email from FedEx, which was sent to MacRumors via a company source. "If you are unable to attend the week of Nov 5-9, please send me an email and we'll remove you from the roster. Thank you for understanding."

Rumors of this year's iPhone model have been spot on so far - we've had a chance to see prototypes of the iPhone at almost every stage of its development this year - but the rumors related to the phone's alleged unveiling and release date are the first ones to actually prove true.

For months, it was reported that Apple's next big product event, which is said to unveil the new iPhone 5, a new "iPad Mini," and even new iPod and Mac models, would take place on Wednesday, Sept. 12. The date was first reported by iMore, and then the Verge, Reuters, Bloomberg, the New York Times, the Loop and CNN. Of course, that rumor ended up being true.

On Aug. 31, we at IBTimes correctly predicted Apple would release its event invitations at roughly 9 a.m. PST on Tuesday, Sept 4. The timing was perfectly accurate, and at noon on the east coast, Apple released its press invitations with an ominous "12," which created a shadow that looked like a giant "5." The invitation simply read, "It's almost here."

No rumors are certain - Apple will never confirm nor comment on any speculation anyway - but when there's enough smoke, there's bound to be fire. That looks like it's the case with the iPhone 5's alleged Sept. 21 release date.

Not only would releasing a new iPhone a week and a half after its unveiling be typical of Apple's schedule, but it makes most sense for Apple's product timeline for several reasons: If Apple unveils as many products as analysts, journalists and fans are expecting, there is absolutely no way the company could release all of the products at once. Not even the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini could possibly be sold at the same time. It would create Apple Store Armageddon.

Apple will want to get the iPhone on shelves first, since that will be the product with the most focus and highest demand. Rightfully so: The iPhone has accounted for more than 45 percent of Apple's revenue totals in the last year. After that, Apple will be able to control the individual releases of different iOS and Mac products at will.

But Sept. 21 indeed looks to be the iPhone 5's day in the sun. Beyond the reports and confirmations from Reuters, The New York Times and more than six other individual outlets, Verizon has also reportedly planned a vacation blackout for employees for Sept. 21 to Sept. 30. Geeky Gadgets independently claims the iPhone will be released on Sept. 21 as well, citing a source who had "been reliable in the past."

Again, we can't confirm the date, but we'll put it this way: A lot of companies and sources that rely on delivering Apple news have staked their reputations on this date. They themselves have been relatively accurate and reliable in the past, and we believe them. Without any confirmation, belief and widespread confirmation are the best we can offer right now.

The iPhone 5, which could also just be called "New iPhone," is said to feature a bigger, thinner front plate that stretches the screen just beyond four inches to achieve a 16:9 resolution ratio to watch 1080p HD videos in a widescreen format.

According to alleged prototypes and images, Apple has also reportedly expanded and redesigned its speaker grills, migrated the FaceTime camera to be directly above the earpiece, moved the earphone jack from the top right corner of the phone to the bottom left corner, and introduced a new camera opening on the backside of the phone between the camera lens and the LED flash, which likely houses a small microphone. Finally, we believe Apple has fixed its iPhone 5 with a unibody metal back instead of an all-glass facade, which could potentially improve call reception, and has also endowed the iPhone with a new quad-core A6 processor, and that heavily-rumored smaller dock connector.

We expect Apple to sell the new iPhone 5 at the same starting price as last year's model. In other words, we could see the new iPhone go on sale for $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32 GB, and $399 for 64GB. Since we believe Apple will also sell the new iPhone with LTE, we believe Apple will sell those models for $329 for 16GB, $429 for 32GB, and $529 for 64GB. These figures are based off the difference between Apple's new iPad models with and without LTE.

Read more about the new iPhone 5's potential features, such as its new killer screen, NFC, LTE and even 3D.