iPhone 5 production delay could see cheap 4S launch alone

Apple may have been over-ambitious with its iPhone 5 plans, it's suggested, with reports that the more impressive of a two device line-up originally intended for a simultaneous launch will in fact be delayed. Although Apple is on track with a low-end iPhone, based on the current iPhone 4, for an aggressively priced holiday push, 9 to 5 Mac's sources say, the true fifth-gen iPhone is experiencing significant production issues and may well be delayed and/or initially in short supply.

According to the tipsters, Apple is driving full steam ahead with the entry-level model. The company apparently plans to have over 10m of the handsets ready at launch, expecting strong demand for a cheaper model that will appear on prepay and postpay plans. That could well be the model tipped to be rolling off production lines at a rate of 150,000 units per day.

However, the more interesting device – and the one which departs significantly from the current smartphone – isn't going quite to plan. Expected to be thinner than the iPhone 4, with a teardrop-shaped profile and a larger display, "impossibly light" but sturdier than the Samsung Galaxy S II, and rivaling point-and-shoot cameras with its photo skills, all that "magic" has supposedly given at least one of Apple's production lines a headache. It's unclear whether that's at Pegatron or Foxconn facilities at this stage, but the net result is that supplies are more constrained than Apple had expected.

That's led to suggestions that Apple will be forced to delay the iPhone 5 somewhat, and that even if the launch is staggered that stock of the new handset will be rare. That could even remain the case until 2012, it's predicted. It's not the first time we've heard that Apple has been pushing its manufacturers hard: back in July one Foxconn source claimed the iPhone 5 was "complicated and difficult to assemble" and warned of likely rarity.

Recently, suggestions out of other Apple sources indicated that the company was mere "weeks away" from announcing a new model. It may well be that this device, rather than being the iPhone 5 believed to be previewed by the leaked Case-Mate cases, is the iPhone 4S.