As the tech world breathlessly awaits the impending launch of Apple's latest iteration of the iPhone smartphone, generally referred to as the iPhone 5 and expected to launch in mid-September, information about and photos of the handset continue to leak slowly online. The latest new visual information comes by way of smartphone repair Website UBreakiFix, which posted what appears to be the full front panel of the iPhone 5. The photos don't provide much more information, now that the screen is widely considered to have been widened to 4 inches diagonally, up from 3.5 inches in all previous versions of the handset.
Despite having a larger screen size, the new iPhone is reportedly slimmer than the iPhone 4S and will sport a reconfigured charging dock with fewer pins. The enlarged screen is expected to be a major feature on the new iPhone, helping Apple compete better with other smartphones with larger screens, like the Google Android-powered Samsung Galaxy S III, which sports a 4.8-inch display and has proven to be a big hit with consumers. Other features such as 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) connectivity, near-field communication (NFC) capabilities and a more powerful battery are expected to find their way onto the iPhone 5.
While sales of the iPhone have slipped, thanks to increased competition from Android-based rivals and consumers deciding to hold off on an iPhone purchase until the new model debuts, an Aug. 17 research note from Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said the iPhone 5 launch would be the biggest smartphone launch in history. Misek said he expects Apple to have approximately 15 million iPhone 5 handsets in inventory by mid-September and determined that 170 million global smartphone subscribers will be coming out of contracts in the second half of 2012. "We therefore see significant and very fertile ground for the iPhone 5's success," the note explained.
As Apple prepared for the launch, the company has taken the step of offering to match retailer discounts on older models, including the iPhone 4 and 4S handsets, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal. While Apple has not officially acknowledged the deal, two unnamed sources interviewed in the report said Apple would match lower prices cited by customers from retail outlets, including Best Buy, Target and Sprint. Upon customer request, Apple will offer a $49.01 discount on the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 models, which would bring pricing to $349.99, $249.99 or $149.99 for the iPhone 4S, and $49.99 for the iPhone 4. The company's discounting decision follows Sprint's announcement earlier this week that it was reducing the price of its iPhones by $50.