UPDATED: Everything we know about the iPhone 5 launch date, specifications, features

We'll update this story on a regular basis with the latest information

Rumours are hotting up as we near the launch of Apple's upcoming iPhone, dubbed the iPhone 5, so we've rounded up all of the latest in one place to keep you up to date with what's expected when the popular smartphone launches.

We'll regularly update this story as new information comes in about Apple's upcoming iPhone

When will the next iPhone launch?

It looks likely that the iPhone 5 will launch on the 12 September, and could be available to buy on 21 September.

iLounge was first to report that Apple would be holding a special event on that date, citing "sources who have proven accurate in the past," who also believe we could see an iPad mini and a new iPod launch at the event.

Following that report, more evidence of a 12 September event flooded in from publications such as The Verge, The New York Times, Reuters, Bloomberg and AllThingsD. Each publication reported that their sources had given the same 12 September launch date for the iPhone.

Reports are suggesting that Apple has purposefully leaked the news of the iPhone 5 launch, and potentially bought the launch forward in the hope of it impacting the next quarter's financial results.

Since the rumours of the 12 September launch, eBay has seen a 70 per cent increase in iPhone 4S trade-ins, as owners rush to sell their devices before the next model arrives.

There has been no official word from Apple on the launch date, but, at its third quarter earnings report on 24 July, Apple's CFO Peter Oppenhiemer said that Apple "could not be more confident" in its new product line, and mentioned a "fall transition," which is expected to be a reference to the next iPhone's launch. This transition was brought up in the Q&A after the presentation, which Oppenhiemer responded with: "It's not something that we're going to talk about in any level of detail today."

Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets, said Apple would be smart to ship its new iPhone in September, especially after recent concerns around the June quarter weakness in the iPhone.

It is believed that Sharp will begin shipping screens for the iPhone 5 in August, and it has also been reported that Pegatron has begun production of the new iPhone in preparation for a September launch. Japanese Mac blog MacOtakara has agreed that Chinese manufacturers are beginning to ramp up production of the sixth-generation iPhone.

Taobao, the Chinese equivalent of Amazon, began accepting pre-orders for the iPhone 5, listing the device along with purported mock-up images and technical specifications.

According to analyst research, Apple expects to sell more than 263 million iPhone 5 units.

What will the iPhone 5 look like?

The consensus is that Apple's next iPhone will have a larger display, possibly achieved by making the device taller and allowing space for 24 apps on the home screen.

At the end of July, a fully assembled iPhone was constructed from components leaked from the Chinese suppliers, and photographs of the device were published online.

The photos match previous leaks and rumours showing an iPhone with a taller body, larger display, smaller dock connector, and a two-tone metal back.

Apple was granted a patent for a smaller dock connector in July. It is expected that Apple will reduce the size from the current 30-pin design to a 19-pin or possibly even 8-pin design. However, it has also emerged that a high school student started one of the smaller dock connector rumours as part of a school project.

The iPhone 5 could also be 1.4mm thinner than the iPhone 4S, according to an analyst. This could be achieved through the use of in-cell technology in the touchscreen, combined with a thinner battery.

In early August, a detailed hands-on video of the iPhone 5 front panel hit the web. Watch it here.

What other features will the iPhone 5 have?

Data from alleged iPhone 5 prototypes has led to the speculation that Apple will implement Near Field Communication (NFC) in the device. An Apple patent also suggests that a NFC chip will be introduced in the iPhone 5, enabling users to quickly send iTunes gifts to one another.

NFC could be used in conjunction with Apple's new Passbook app, which will arrive with iOS 6 this autumn.

Another patent indicates that Apple could use an NFC chip in future iPhones to control digital devices around the home, including other Apple products, games consoles, digital cameras, or even sprinkler systems and thermostats.

It is expected that the iPhone 5 will launch with iOS 6, Apple's next mobile operating system. iOS 6 will introduce a raft of new features to the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, including Apple-designed 3D maps, Siri improvements, 3G FaceTime and Shared Photo Stream.

When Apple launched iOS 6 beta 4 to developers on 6 August, it emerged that the company is dropping Google's YouTube app from the operating system. This, and the omission of Google's Maps app, indicates a very public break-up between Apple and Google. See: 4 things Apple will emliminate with iPhone 5 and iOS 6.

The new iPad has 4G LTE technology, leading to the conclusion that the feature will be introduced to the iPhone too, though the improved internet access is largely redundant in the UK at present.

European mobile operators have reportedly been stocking up on nano-SIMs, the smaller SIM card design set to be used in Apple's next iPhone.

Of course, it's largely possible that Apple will not launch an iPhone 5 at all. It's sure to launch a sixth-generation iPhone but it is expected that the company could follow the naming conventions of its new iPad, dropping the number altogether.

Follow Ashleigh Allsopp on Twitter / Follow MacworldUK on Twitter

See also:

Everything we know about the 2012 iMac Everything you need to know about the iPad mini

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Ashleigh Allsopp

Macworld U.K.
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