Ah, Autumn, my favorite season. The temperature drops to a pleasant cool; warm apple cider is served all over the countryside; and the leaves on the trees change colors almost as rapidly as the supposed release date for the iPhone 5.
The iPhone 5, we were told, was definitely coming in September. The Wall Street Journal had sources saying September, as did John Paczkowski of All Things Digital, as did Boy Genius Report, as did 9to5MacRumors. Basically, a lot of people close to Apple -- suppliers, parts makers, AT&T employees, etc. -- assured a lot of bloggers that September 2011 was the month of the launch. "Yes," all of these informants nodded in anonymous unison, "It certainly looks like September 2011."
Which is why I'm going to bet it will be a little frustrating for you all to hear that the latest rumors have the iPhone 5 coming out in October.
YES, THAT'S RIGHT: OCTOBER ... WAIT, OCTOBER?
John Paczkowski of All Things Digital was the first writer to predict, all the way back in April, that the iPhone 5 would be released in September. He is now also the first writer to predict, all the way back on Monday, that the September reports are "wrong," and that October is now the month. Boy Genius Report, meanwhile, joined the October crowd in part, saying to expect the new iPhone on October 1 -- in Canada. They stand by their original claim that the iPhone 5 will be out in the United States in September, while Gizmodo sourced an anonymous tipster working for AT&T who told them that AT&T retail employees were banned from taking vacation during the last two weeks of September, which of course can only mean that the iPhone 5 will be released late in that month. Paczkowski responds to this tipster in his most recent post, saying that his Apple source told him that Gizmodo's AT&T source was incorrect, and that if AT&T employees really were forbidden from vacation in the last two weeks in September, then it wasn't because of an iPhone 5 release.
Despite a lot of white noise, we are essentially no closer to knowing the release date of the iPhone 5, as Apple spokespeople aren't confirming or acknowledging any of it.
WHICH IS TOO BAD, BECAUSE PEOPLE REALLY, REALLY WANT ONE
What we do know about the iPhone 5 is that consumers are incredibly, some might say irrationally, excited for it. A recent survey by online shopping store PriceGrabber showed that one-third of Americans are going to buy the next iPhone, no matter what it looks like or how it is upgraded.
And according to an unrelated survey by consulting firm Piper Jaffray, Verizon users aren't going to buy a new iPhone until it's a new iPhone -- that is, an iPhone 5, or an update to the iPhone 4. Target and Radio Shack fueled the crazy iPhone 5 speculation by cutting prices on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS in an apparent inventory cleaning, and 9to5Mac reported that the 3GS might be discontinued as soon as the iPhone 5 is inevitably available.
AND WHAT, MIGHT YOU ASK, IS THIS iPHONE 5 GOING TO LOOK LIKE?
While we don't know much about the newest iPhone beyond the fact that it exists (prototypes have been shipped out to English carriers, according to The Guardian tech blog), we do have a whole mess of rumors that we can wade through.
We already told you about the reports of the stronger rear-facing camera and the slimmer and thinner body; since then, even more anonymous tipsters and supposed spottings-in-the-wild have come forward.
For grainy pictures of what may be the iPhone 5 being tested out by developers and carriers, you have to do some Web-hopping. A Vietnamese blogger claims to have a white iPhone 4s -- a cheaper version of the iPhone 5 to be released simultaneously with its more expensive cousin -- which he said (according to Google translate) runs faster, has a wider screen, and has a plastic rather than a glass screen. On the other side of the world, 9to5Mac has a picture snapped on a train in San Francisco, apparently of an Apple employee playing with his new unreleased iPhone, with wider screen, thinner back and more rounded edges than the iPhone 4. This squares (no pun intended) with the Nickelodeon-Gak green iPhone 5 covers 9to5mac thought they had found in -- well, somewhere in Asia.
And hey, speaking of Asia: Despite the iPhone 5 not yet being released anywhere, the knock-offs are already out there! Photos and video of a fake iPhone 5 made in a factory in Shenzhen have been circulating lately, thanks to the tech blog Gizchina. And since Apple phones are built in Shenzhen, China, who better to design a perfect replica of the phone than citizens of Shenzhen themselves? The "iPhoney" is thinner than the iPhone 4 and has the rounded glass that 9to5mac's covers hinted at, but, unfortunately, it's not an exact replication, as it only costs $108, which I think we all know won't be the case for the iPhone 5. Shaw Wu, an Apple analyst with financial services firm Sterne Agee, meanwhile, added that the next-generation iPhone will be thinner and have a wider display, and will not run on 4G. So there's that, too.
WAKE ME UP WHEN SEPTEMBER ENDS
Whether the new iPhone is wider, thinner, fatter, or shaped like an octagon, or whether it is released in September, October, November, or Decembruary, is still anyone's guess. Most people are still pegging an official announcement to Apple's annual Fall Media Conference (the first week in September), so we will only have to deal with this rampant, sometimes silly, speculation for another month or so. Though there is not much agreement on what the iPhone will look like or when it will be available in America or elsewhere, one thing remains consistent: The Apple hype-machine keeps rolling its sleek white tires, riding silently as ever toward that announcement in September.