Another day, another Apple production rumor, and as the whispers in Taiwan would have us believe that Apple's suppliers are already gathering together materials for iPhone 5 and iPad 3 manufacture, ahead of an official unveil in September and commercial release in October. Your favorite component gossip source, DigiTimes, has it on anonymous authority that Foxconn - which will be slapping all the parts together - will be making a single fifth-gen iPhone, rather than both a cut-price iPhone 4S and flagship iPhone 5.
The rumors around whether Apple is readying one or two devices have been flip-flopping for months now; before this, analysts were busy suggesting that the iPhone 5 would be 2012's handset, and the iPhone 4S was on the way this year. Then LulzSec leaks tipped a 4G LTE iPhone 5 - along with the iPad 3 - for launch in September, shaking things up once more.
Confusing matters is that, bar some tentative, rumored specifications, there's no real consensus on what an "iPhone 5" is and what an "iPhone 4S" is, and how the two differ. So far, we've been led to assume that the 4S is ostensibly similar in design to the existing iPhone 4, only with upgraded internal components that potentially includes the Apple A5 dual-core processor from the iPad 2. What isn't clear is whether that's simply a test-mule Apple has seeded to certain key developers - with no intention of commercially releasing it - or a cheaper model to capture some of the mid-range market.
The iPhone 5, meanwhile, is said to be a more significant departure from existing designs, with a dual-core processor, tapered body borrowing styling cues from the MacBook Air, a larger - perhaps 3.7-inch - Retina Display and advanced technologies like NFC. It could well have World Phone functionality supporting both CDMA and GSM carriers with the same model, along with an 8-megapixel camera.
No matter what the device turns out to be, the supply chain sources reckon Apple is expecting to ship 6-7m of them in Q3 2011. The iPad 3, meanwhile, is said to be "just recently" added to the production schedule; manufacturing of both will begin in small volumes come August, ramping up in September and October. Apple is also said to be "considering" an iPad with a 250dpi display, though it's unclear if this is the iPad 3 or a future model.
Note: the concept images above are the work of Roman Vladamir Sima, rather than anything leaked from Apple.