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After Hours

iPhone 5S May Hit Stores Sooner than You Think

iPhone 5S May Hit Stores Sooner than You Think
July 17, 2013 9:27AM

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Monday's report to investors from Jefferies analyst Peter Misek bring Apple iPhone 5S rumors closer to solid ground. Misek predicts a launch date of late September-early October, with mass production in swing later this month. Meanwhile, rumors on specs include hints of (finally) NFC and fingerprint scanner.

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Enough with the guessing. When is Apple's iPhone 5S going to hit the shelves? Apple watchers are talking about Jefferies analyst Peter Misek and his report to investors issued on Monday.

The word is that Apple's partners are preparing to rev up mass production of the iPhone 5S later this month and that the iPhone 5S will be available by late September-early October. Conservative guesstimates had pinned the release date closer to the end of the year but Misek's new research note predicted the iPhone 5S will launch either late September or early October.

Misek's dates, however, do not come as any shock to Apple watchers who saw last week's Foxconn story in China Business News. According to the story, Foxconn has begun large scale recruitment of factory workers. The recruitment drive is to culminate in a total worker number that could approach the previous peak of 300,000.

The Morning After

Outside Jefferies, too, there's talk that Apple could be planning a press event in September around the iPhone 5S. Nonetheless, while everybody loves a launch, what about the morning after? Remember, say Apple watchers, this isn't rumored as an earth-shaking entrant, more like a spiffy revised device that may make iPhone 5 loyalists not as much giddy as pleased.

Misek noted that the iPhone 5S will be carrying mostly "incremental" feature upgrades. To be sure, the Apple iPhone 5S rumor mill is running on guesses not only on dates but features and specs.

Possible features include a more powerful processor, upgraded camera and fingerprint scanner--possibly. Connecting the dots, Apple watchers are noting how Apple put down $356 million for AuthenTec last year, which just happens to be in the business of fingerprint sensor technology and other security products for mobile devices.

If pundits are correct that the 5S is not to offer anything dramatically new, then it is likely that security would be a solid selling point, with so many iPhone users currently aware of so many security issues surrounding mobile devices. Enhanced security features would not be ignored by businesses that allow employees to bring along or use company iPhones and iPads as part of the work environment.

Finally, NFC?

Another talked-about iPhone 5S tweak, meanwhile, is its narrower logic board than in the iPhone 5, adding room for new components. Another part of the buzz will actually come as a surprise to those who have been wondering when and if Apple was going to climb on board with NFC. Rumor now has it that the upcoming iPhone 5S will carry NFC--if alleged leaked specs from China are to pan out.

NFC stands for Near Field Communication, where smartphones can transfer small amounts of data with each other. Apple did not embed NFC in any of its iPhones so far,

A recent report from Berg Insight found that NFC adoption exploded in 2012 and that global sales of NFC-equipped smartphones grew 300% last year to reach 140 million units. Nearly all high-end smartphones, with the exception of the iPhone, support NFC.

The news was all the more puzzling earlier this year, then, when Apple received a patent from the USPTO for a cross-platform data syncing solution using NFC. The system would allow two devices to open up a line of communication between each other using NFC. Where there's a patent, there is a plan, at least in theory. Time, in fact, only months, will tell.

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