This week, Apple invited the media to attend a mysterious October 4 event with the terse message, "Let's talk iPhone." It's about time: The long-awaited iPhone 5 — the company's first major product release since Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO in August — already has the rumor mill feverishly churning. What can we expect? Here, four predictions:
1. There will only be one new iPhone
A theory recently given credence by Apple board member Al Gore suggested that two phones would be released simultaneously — a new lower-priced model and a new high-end device (presumably the iPhone 5). Suggesting otherwise is a curious graphic embedded in the "Let's talk iPhone" email (pictured). Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt finds it "pretty clear" that the first three icons represent the event's date, time and location. Yet the mysterious "1" hovering over the phone icon, when taken with the tagline "Let's talk iPhone" (singular), could be read as Apple's not-so-subtle hint that only one device will be announced.
2. The next model will have superior voice-recognition technology
The "Let's talk iPhone" tagline may be a "double entendre du jour," says Josh Lowensohn at CNET. Apple has reportedly wanted to revamp its voice-recognition technology since its April, 2010 acquisition of Siri, "a company that mixes natural language processing" for web-based search. Google's Android OS's voice-recognition capabilities have left Apple devices "in the dust" and an update to the software — untouched since 2009 — would make sense.
3. It will be faster, and have a much cooler camera
The iPhone 4 boasted the same A4 chip as the first-generation iPad and the new iPhone 5 will likely adopt the "dual-core A5 chip" inside the much-faster iPad 2, says Jared Newman at PC World. Another good bet: A more capable 8-megapixel camera. "Apple has a history of improving the iPhone's camera with each generation."
4. And you won't have to wait long to get it
Signs are pointing to a Friday, October 14 launch date — just two short weeks after the announcement. "A Friday iPhone launch would not be new," writes Apple Insider, pointing out that every other model arrived on a Friday with the exception of the iPhone 4, released on a Thursday. The buzz would also corroborate the mid-October launch date suggested by Stephane Richard, CEO of French wireless company Orange, one of Europe's largest mobile carriers.