iMore has heard that, instead of the widely rumored iPhone 5 with a bigger screen and all new casing design, Apple will instead be releasing an iPhone 4S -- that name and the same basic design as the current Verizon iPhone, with an Apple A5 dual core processor like the iPad 2, an 8 megapixel rear camera and perhaps some extra RAM to really let it fly.
Apple has done this before, of course. iPhone 3GS was exactly the same casing as iPhone 3G, but with better chips and a bigger camera, and it sold fantastically well. Heck, iPhone 4 in its current configuration continues to sell fantastically well. And Apple is not a company that typically changes just for change's sake.
Sure it's been 15 months since iPhone 4 hit the market, and Apple's had more time than ever before between generations, but that doesn't mean they've spent that time on hardware.
First, the Verizon iPhone has only been on the market since February and that might have contributed to the fall rather than summer refresh schedule. iOS 5 is also a huge update, especially iCloud which Apple likely does not want to be a repeat of MobileMe. And if even half the rumors about Assistant turn out to be true, that will be the big story next Tuesday.
Apple has said numerous times that software is their key differentiator. If an 8GB iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S are the only iPhones introduced next Tuesday, they'll be putting their money where their mouth is like never before.
Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see Tim Cook holding up the iPhone 5 from those case leaks. But he won't be. He'll be holding up an iPhone 4S.
2011 is the year of the iPad 2, not the iPhone 5.