iPhone 5 or iPhone 4S: Rumors Swirl Before Apple Release

PHOTO: Customer looking at iPhone at Apple Store
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The iPhone 5? Is there something going on about an iPhone 5?

Tuesday is the day Apple announces the latest update to its iconic (pun intended) smartphone -- not that the company will let on that anything much is happening. It won't say whether it is releasing an iPhone 5, or an iPhone 4S (a mere upgrade to its current iPhone 4), or anything else. It did email an invitation to reporters with the words "Let's talk iPhone," and several, er, icons showing that Tuesday's rollout would be at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.

Yahoo, as of Friday, reported that searches for "iPhone 5 rumors" were up 3,249 percent in a month. Searches for "iPhone 5 release date 2011" were up 2,906 percent. Two thirds of the overall searches for "iPhone 5" came from guys, it said, and 21 percent came from people 17 and under.

What would you want from a new iPhone? Apparently, just something that works decently. There is a large subset of people who salivate over new Apple products (did you find this story by searching for "iPhone 5 rumors"?) but a much larger group who really just want to make calls and send texts.

People interviewed outside Apple stores said they'd like a phone with a better battery, a larger screen and a smaller case. They'd like one that doesn't drop calls the way the iPhone 4 famously did. One man from Los Angeles wished for the impossible: "It would have to be free."

It won't be. The websites that compete for those "iPhone 5 rumors" clicks seem to agree it will have a full gigabyte of memory, a dual-core processor, an 8-megapixel camera and voice recognition. It will have a thin, rounded metal back, and its screen will stretch from one edge of the front to the other. Verizon and AT&T will offer it; Sprint may. If you believe what's going around.

Of course, Tuesday's event may be very different from what that very profitable rumor mill predicts. Apple has been talking with Facebook about an app for the iPad; it's been a battle but they may settle their differences and include it in Tuesday's announcement.

And don't be surprised if there's an iPhone 4GS, or something like it, as well; there may be a model that's an intermediate upgrade of the current iPhone 4. A silly little game broke two weeks ago when Al Gore, an Apple board member, made a passing reference to "the new iPhones coming out next month," and tech bloggers tried to figure out exactly what he meant.

MacRumors, a website that specializes in guess-what, said Saturday night, "The most recent rumors suggest that the iPhone 4 will become the low end iPhone, while the 'iPhone 4S' will become the top of the line. There has been no evidence that the tapered iPhone 5 design is actually in production."

So do you want to talk iPhone? Apple will on Tuesday.

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