It's finally almost here.
Apple announced it's next big media event Tuesday afternoon, scheduled for next Wednesday, September 12.
With rumors already nearing fever pitch, the trendsetting tech company all but confirmed the imminent arrival of the next iPhone, rumored to be called iPhone 5, with the email it sent out inviting media to its "invitation-only event" in San Francisco.
"It's almost here," the image says, with a big "12" underneath. There's no explicit hint at the iPhone (a mini iPad and other upgrades are also rumored to be on their way), but a "5" is visible in the shadow of the shadow of the 12.
"I hope they do something really radical," one Apple store employee said.
Based on leaked information, pictures of components and all-out speculation, here are some of the changes you might expect for the upcoming device.
1. Longer, not wider, and thinner
Numerous photos of purported prototypes have surfaced showing a 4-inch display on the phone--taller, but not wider.
2. Metal, unibody design
Unlike the iPhones 4 and 4S, which had beautiful but problematic glass backs, the iPhone 5 is expected to be all metal, and all in one piece. However, photos show the back plates with two tones, with smoother bands on the top and bottom and a more textured band on the majority of the back plate.
3. 4G LTE compatibility
Major mobile providers are expanding their faster 4G LTE networks, which the iPhone has so far been unable to access. LTE compatibility means faster upload and download times--but it will also eat up more data and more battery power. Thus, the battery size will get bumped up.
4. Smaller dock connector
The 30-pin dock connector on the bottom of your phone is getting downsized. Why? Probably to ultimately make room for more functionality (and, as always, a bigger battery), but will also provide faster connectivity between the phone and other compatible devices.
5. New look for the headphones
Apple's instantly identifiable white earbuds have been unchanged for several years, but may finally be getting an upgrade. The ear piece, according to Vietnamese site Tinhte.vn, will be shaped differently for a lower profile.
6. iOS 6
As with all Apple devices, what's inside is just as important as what's outside. The newest operating system, iOS 6, has been out in the world in beta form for several months, introducing increased social media integration, improved voice capabilities, expanded use of the cloud, a brand new (Google-free) Maps, and more.
The iPhone 5 will be introduced in a preview event in San Francisco on September 12, and is expected to become available for sale September 21.