iPhone 5 orders peak as Apple reportedly preps for 20m-strong Q4

Apple has reportedly significantly increased its iPhone orders for the second half of 2011, with claims that the order book has swollen by up to 13-percent including contracts for the fifth-gen iPhone 5. Over 56m units – consisting of iPhone 5, iPhone 4 in GSM and CDMA flavors, and iPhone 3GS – have been ordered, DigiTimes reports, with supply chain insiders claiming an estimated 25.5m to 26m will be the fifth-gen device expected to go on sale later in the year.

Interestingly, Apple has reportedly shifted its iPhone 5 order numbers around: Q3 has been reduced from 7m to as few as 5.5m units, while Q4 has been boosted considerably, from in excess of 20m units versus the previous 14m expected. The existing phones will, collectively, be tapered out, with over 20m ordered for Q3 but just 8m in Q4. Altogether 95m iPhones are expected to have shipped this year by the end of December.

The significant numbers indicates that Apple is anticipating strong demand for its iPhone 5, though could also lend weight to rumors that the company has a second, cheaper phone in the pipeline. The so-called "simplified iPhone 4" is said to use plastic rather than glass for its chassis, as well as see some other cost-cutting tweaks, bringing the price of entry down so as to make pre-paid iPhones for the North American market more realistic.

Apple's supposed shift in order schedules, however, could also stoke reports that the launch date of the smartphone has been pushed back. Last week, claims surfaced that an October release, rather than September, was looking increasingly likely.