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Everything We Know About the Next iPhone
PHOTO: A Guide to the Next iPhone

"When is the next iPhone coming out?" "Should I wait for the next iPhone or just get one now?" "And why would I want the next iPhone to read my fingerprint?"

It happens to me every year around this time -- a deluge of questions about the next iPhone.

And the timing of the rumors and interest makes sense. For the past two years, Apple has released a new iPhone in September, which means that many are preparing for a long-anticipated upgrade. And yes, according to reports, Apple is now gearing up for its annual September iPhone event where it is expected to release the successor to the iPhone 5 -- presumably the iPhone 5S -- and another phone called the iPhone 5C.

Yes, Apple is rumored to be releasing not one but two iPhones this year.

For those who have questions about the next iPhone, when it is coming and if you should wait, you've come to the right place: Here's a guide just for you. Yes, you. Here's everything we've dug out about Apple's next phones, keeping in mind that Apple has declined to comment on all of the following reports or speculation.

The iPhone 5S

The iPhone 4S is to the iPhone 4 as the iPhone 5S is to the iPhone 5. No, this isn't the SATs, but just as the iPhone 4S had a similar design to the iPhone 4 but with a few new features, the iPhone 5 is expected to follow a similar pattern. Don't expect a bigger screen on iPhone 5S, even though Apple seems to be cooking that up too. According to various reports, the iPhone 5S will have a very similar design to the iPhone 5, but will have the following changes.

Fingerprint sensor Siri was the standout feature of the iPhone 4S, and all signs point to a fingerprint sensor as the standout feature of the 5S. According to various reports, including one recently from 9to5Mac, the iPhone 5S will have a fingerprint sensor in the circular home button.

And there's more supporting evidence for this. Last year Apple bought AuthenTec, a biometrics reader and mobile security solutions company, and a folder called "biometrickitUI" was recently found in the iOS 7 software code. "A fingerprint that changes color during the setup process" was also written in the software.

Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac wrote this week that according to his sources, the reader would be in the home button and work better than some competing solutions that have appeared on other smartphones, such as the Motorola Atrix.

But here's a question: Why would you want to have a fingerprint sensor on a phone, iPhone or not? The hardware feature would be a way to "authenticate" you and offer another way of securing your phone. It would also likely offer an alternative to entering a PIN or password. Apple has also already said that iOS 7, the next version of the iPhone software, has more security or authentication features to protect against iPhone thefts or Apple picking. For instance, one feature requires you to input your Apple ID before resetting the device.

Improved processor and camera Much less is known about the other hardware improvements, but according to some sources, the phone will have a new version of Apple's processor (presumably called the A7), which will naturally be faster and more efficient, aiding with battery life. It's also expected to pack an improved camera, which Apple Insider reporting that will have an a better flash for taking better photos in low-light conditions.

Gold According to various outlets, including Techcrunch, AllThingsD, iMore, and 9to5Mac, the next iPhone will come in a new color. A gold model will join the current black and white iPhone models. It seems, though, that this being Apple, we're not talking a gaudy, blinged-out gold but a more tempered champagne color.

The iPhone 5C

But that's not all we're going to hear about colors. There is speculation that there will be another, more affordable iPhone: the iPhone 5C. The C is said to stand not for cheap but for colors. According to various leaked photos, the iPhone 5C is made of plastic and will come in various hues, including green, pink, white, blue and yellow. Australian blogger Sonny Dickson has published a number of photos of the purported back shell of the phone.

Because the phone is made of plastic, versus the aluminum and metal materials used for the iPhone 5 (or 5S), it is expected that the phone will be more affordable than the 5S, which will presumably start at $199 with a two-year contract. Apple experts, including John Gruber of Daring Fireball, have suggested that the 5C will replace the lower-cost iPhones on the market, such as the iPhone 4 or 4S. (Apple usually drops prices on older phones when a new model is released.)

The Software

Apple has not commented on any of the aforementioned hardware rumors, but it has mentioned something that is coming to the iPhone: iOS 7. In June, Apple showed off the completely revamped version of its iPhone and iPad operating system. The software has been given a complete face-lift, with new icons, animations and features.

Specifically there is a new Control Center area, finally making it easier to get to frequently used settings, including Wi-Fi and screen brightness. The multitasking view is also new, with a card view that lets you swipe to close apps.

We've highlighted a few more of the new features coming to iOS 7 here. And don't just swipe away the importance of the software this year. Even if you don't buy a new iPhone, the new version of iOS will change the look and feel of older models.

The Release Date

"When is the next iPhone coming out?"

Ah yes, the big question I have been asked for months. According to AllThingsD, Apple is planning to hold an event on Sept. 10. If all follows Apple's past scheduling, that would put the iPhone on shelves a week and a half later, around Sept. 20. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Apple was on schedule to ship a "new high-end and low-end iPhone in early September."

But, of course, until Apple takes the stage most of this is just rumor and speculation. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Apple's Senior Vice President of Design Jony Ive have the real answers to the flood of iPhone questions I get every year, but I'm confident in saying this: A new iPhone is coming and, yes, you should wait.
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