Reports: Apple to announce iPhone 5, iPad Mini on September 12

The new version of the iPhone and the smaller version of the iPad will likely ship on September 21, sources say

Apple will follow its traditional practice of shipping new devices about nine days after announcing them when it starts the new round of device shipments on September 21. Those devices, the iPhone 5 (which might or might not actually be called that) and the 7-inch iPad Mini, will be announced in a major event, probably in San Francisco, on September 12.

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) seems to have a practice of announcing new products on Wednesday and shipping them nine days later on Friday.

The iPhone 5, which will actually be the 7th generation of the iPhone, may be called that, but it may not. Just as Apple didn't call the third generation iPad the iPad 3, it could also choose another name for the new iPhone. What does seem clear from reports in the Wall Street Journal's All Things D is that Apple has been buying parts from suppliers for several month, and that activity always precedes a major product announcement.

The Apple-centered news site iMore, which has been consistently correct about announcement and release dates, was the first to say that the announcement would take place on September 12, and to say that the shipping date would be September 21. However, several other news organizations have independently confirmed those dates.

The iPhone 5, or whatever it's called, will have a 4-inch screen, support for LTE and a 16:9 aspect ratio that will be better for viewing video than the current iPhone. That's the same aspect ratio as your HDTV. The new device will apparently also include a new dock connector that is not compatible with previous devices, which will cause headaches for accessory makers, as well as for users.

The new iPhone will feature iOS 6, which will probably be released a day or two before the shipping date of the phone and the iPad Mini. iOS 6 was announced and previewed on June 11 at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.

The iPad Mini is designed to give Apple a place at the 7-inch tablet table. This is the hottest portion of the tablet market, which caught on fire when Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) released the Kindle Fire, and which stayed red hot with the release of Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Nexus 7. The smaller tablets are popular with users because they're much easier to slip into a pocket or bag and are easier to use for basic tasks, such as email.

Reports are that the only difference between the new iPad and the iPad Mini are the size and the new dock connector, which the device will share with the new iPhone. It's worth noting that the Apple ship date comes just about a month before Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) ships the Surface tablet and Windows Phone 8. Windows 8 should also ship at around the same time. 

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