While Apple is being its usual secretive self, several reports indicate the new iPhone 5 or 4S or whatever it'll be called likely will be out in plenty of time for Halloween – all treat, no tricks.
Indications also are that Sprint will join Verizon and original carrier AT&T as iPhone carriers, leaving only T-Mobile without the world's best-selling smart phone.
But the question remains – with iPhone 5/4S be a 4G phone?
This week's iPhone 5/4S rumors
iPhone 5's timing has been solidified as far as the rumor mill is concerned by the leak of an internet memo from Sprint. Apparently the carrier has initiated a vacation ban covering Sept. 30 to Oct. 15 "due to the possibility of a major phone launch" according to a post by SprintFeed.
No one can quite figure out what other "major phone" announcement other than a new iPhone could cause such a ban.
Several other signs point to an early iPhone 5/4S October release.
An analyst has blogged that Apple's Chinese iPhone manufacturers will receive the final version of the company's latest operating system, iOS 5 operating system, between Sept. 23 and Sept. 30. Reportedly factories already have started to assemble the new phones.
Figure 10 days/two weeks for shipping, and, voila – a new iPhone by mid-October.
One critical iPhone 5 announcement timing clue is still missing, however: no word on whether Apple has booked the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Apple's usual product launching pad stage, for early October. There's does seems to be an intriguing gap in the center's events schedule between Oct. 7-11, however.
3G or 4G?
Sprint getting the iPhone means more than just another carrier.
Sprint is the only one of the four major carriers not limit your monthly data usage. Sprint is likely to offer an unlimited iPhone data plan, giving the third-place carrier an enormous advantage for heavy users.
However, there is still no word on iPhone 5/4S's many unknown attributes (which I enumerated in "New iPhone 5, iPad 3 Coming Soon?") – screen size, memory, design, et al – remain unknown.
One primary iPhone 5 feature remains tantalizingly mysterious: 3G or 4G?
Each of iPhone's once and future carriers employ a different and incompatible type of 4G technology: Verizon uses LTE, Sprint uses WiMAX and AT&T uses HSPA Plus (although it is soon due to introduce its own LTE network).
There have been multiple rumors about Apple testing an LTE iPhone. But there are no parallel rumors concerning any tests of a WiMAX iPhone or an HSPA Plus iPhone.
Therefore I conclude iPhone 5/4S will not be a 4G model. In fact, iPhone 5 may actually be far less than the anticipation is, well, anticipating, when compared to some other 4G Android phones with 4.3-inch screens.
But in whatever form it appears, expect the new iPhone soon after the official end of this summer.