The Associated Press - Apple fans are amped. The computer and gadget maker is expected to announce a new, more powerful version of its wildly popular smartphone this week - more than a year after it unveiled the iPhone 4.
The new iPhone is expected to have a number of changes, the biggest of which will likely be under the hood: the inclusion of Apple's latest iOS mobile software, iOS 5, which has been slated for release this fall.
IOS 5 will include things such as wireless device setup and content synching and beefed-up camera, e-mail and Web browsing apps. A new service called iMessage will allow iOS 5 users to send text messages to each other over Wi-Fi or wireless carriers' data networks, while a folder called Newsstand will corral newspaper and magazine app subscriptions in one place to make it easier to find them. When it comes out, the software will also be available for Apple's iPad, iPhone 4 and 3GS and the two most recent generations of the iPod Touch.
A new iPhone is also expected to include Apple's forthcoming iCloud service, which will store content such as music, documents, apps and photos on Apple's servers and let you access them wirelessly on numerous devices.
As for hardware, a new iPhone isn't expected to look that much different from the iPhone 4, though it could be thinner and have a bigger screen. The existing iPhone is 0.37 inches thick and has a display measuring 3.5 inches at the diagonal.
An improved camera is anticipated, too. The existing iPhone has a 5-megapixel camera on its rear. A number of recently released smartphones have moved to 8-megapixel cameras.
One of the most notable hardware changes many industry watchers are predicting is the inclusion of a more powerful chip: Apple's dual-core A5 processor, which is the same chip it uses in its current iPad. The iPhone 4 runs on Apple's older A4 chip, and the move to a more capable chip should improve things such as multitasking, opening apps and gaming.
As for when a new iPhone would be available, Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu suspects it would be fairly soon after it is announced. His research indicates production plans Apple set with its suppliers in Asia called for manufacturing to start in October, so he would expect it to be available within a couple weeks of its announcement.