The new iPhone rumor mill has started churning once again. A new report from The Wall Street Journal claims that Apple will begin production of a new model iPhone that is "similar in size and shape" to the iPhone 5 in the second quarter of this year. The publication suggests that that could lead to a summer launch for the new iPhone, which could mean that the next iPhone will debut earlier in the year than the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5, which were introduced in October and September, respectively.
This isn't the first time that we've heard rumblings that the next iPhone will be similar to the iPhone 5, as a report from earlier this year claimed that the next model will look fairly similar to the iPhone 5 that we've got now. Apple's previous device releases also suggest that we'll be getting an iPhone with a design similar to the iPhone 5, as we saw Apple follow the iPhone 3G with the iPhone 3GS and then introduced the iPhone 4S after the iPhone 4. One feature that is rumored to be upgraded in this new iPhone 5S is its rear camera, which may feature a 13-megapixel sensor (iPhone 5 is 8-megapixel) and larger flash.
In addition to its claims about the new iPhone's production, the WSJ says that Apple is still working with Asian manufacturers on a less expensive iPhone model. That device is said to feature a 4-inch display and a different casing from the iPhone that we're accustomed to. Apple is also said to be considering different colored shells for the device, but its plans on that subject are still up in the air. The sources of today's report say that the more affordable iPhone could arrive as soon as the second half of 2013.
Rumors of a less-expensive iPhone have been flowing quite a bit so far in 2013, with previous reports claiming that the phone could ditch the iPhone 5's aluminum body and instead sport a polycarbonate chassis. The 4-inch Retina display of the iPhone 5 would likely stick around, though, which would help Apple to worry less about making 3.5-inch iPhone models and would push developers to optimize their apps for the taller 4-inch screen. A less-expensive iPhone could also be appealing to consumers around the globe that are interested in iOS but can't afford the high-end iPhone 5.
UPDATE: The WSJ has updated its story with a new tidbit of information. The publication claims to have been told by other tipsters that Apple is planning to release the next major version of iOS around the middle of 2013. In recent years, Apple has introduced a new iOS version around mid-year and then shipped it in the latter part of the year. However, if the company does indeed launch its new iPhone during the summer months, it would need to ship the new iOS earlier than in previous years.