Apple could be getting back on its summer release schedule for the iPhone, if you want to believe a new rumor.
Citing a "reliable source at Foxconn in China," Apple-focused blog 9to5Mac says Apple's got a handful of sample devices for the next iPhone "floating around," and that based on previous production scheduling, the company could be looking to release a new model this summer.
The blog also notes some changes on these samples compared to previous iPhone models including a 4-inch (or larger) display, and a form factor that looks unlike the current iPhone 4 and 4S with a "longer/wider" appearance. 9to5Mac also says none of these supposed samples carry a tapered, teardrop shape, a form-factor that rumors leading up to the iPhone 4S unveiling had so heartily suggested.
A return to a summer release schedule would make the next iPhone the first to see a release in less than a year between models. The iPhone 4S was the first phone to get off of Apple's annual schedule, a move that resulted in record-breaking iPhone sales that were detailed in yesterday's quarterly earnings.
As for the 4-inch display rumor, that one has been kicking around for nearly a year, dating back to last February. It first emerged from a snapshot out of China depicting the front screen of what looked like an iPhone with a larger and wider display. Just weeks before, component industry tracker DigiTimes claimed that Apple was eyeing bigger screens, in part to better compete with Android devices. Then in March, purported "mold engineering" drawings cropped up, depicting such a device that looked like an iPhone 4 but with a noticeably larger screen. There was also a report in June from The Verge claiming it had seen device with a 3.7-inch display, complete with a mockup of said device.
Not to be outdone, a report by our own sister site CNET France in September said it heard the next iPhone would use a qHD screen that comes in 960x540 pixels and measures about 4.2 to 4.3 inches diagonally. That's compared to the iPhone 4 and 4S' 3.5-inch display that runs at a higher 960x640 pixels. Finally, there were the slew of cases that hit store shelves just ahead of the iPhone 4S unveiling designed for a slightly larger, but thinner iPhone, based on what was allegedly a prototype device that leaked from a Foxconn manufacturing facility.
So what's to believe about this rumor then? 9to5Mac says this source is the same one who told the outlet that there would be no iPhone 5 last year, suggesting that the company was working on another "S" model instead.