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New iPhone Expected to Hit Store Shelves on Sept. 21

Verizon Wireless employees will reportedly begin a vacation blackout Sept. 21

Apple fans anxious to know when the next iPhone is coming out may want to circle Sept. 21 on their calendar. That is the date when Verizon Wireless employees will begin a vacation blackout, lasting through Sept. 30, a trusted Verizon employee told TechCrunch. Earlier rumors have said that Apple will announce its next iPhone on Sept. 12, and release the new handset roughly a week later.

If the reports are true, Apple will follow a pattern similar to last year, when it announced the phone mid-week, and released it on Friday of the following week. Apple also put up the iPhone 4S for online pre-orders a week before launch last year, so we may see a similar timeline for 2012's new iPhone.

Although a September launch for the next iPhone would come less than a year after 2011's iPhone 4S, Apple is already feeling the effects of not having a new handset on store shelves. Last quarter, the company missed analyst estimates, and partly blamed anticipation for the next model. (Even so, iPhone sales grew 28 percent year-over-year.)

What's in the Next iPhone?

As usual, Apple isn't talking about the new iPhone yet, but numerous reports have claimed that it'll have a 4-inch display, instead of the 3.5-inch screen found on every iPhone to date. It may also support 4G LTE networks for faster data speeds, and sport a smaller dock connector that could cause some accessory headaches. Near-field communications may debut in the next iPhone, allowing tap-to-pay features at retailers, but this rumor seems less likely than the others.

The next iPhone will also run iOS 6, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system. New features in iOS6 include turn-by-turn navigation, photo and video attachments in the Mail app, a do-not-disturb mode for Notifications and an app calleld Passbook that stores coupons and tickets in digital form. Of course, iOS 6 will also be available for the previous three generations of iPhones, though the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS won't support the full range of features.

Some retailers have slashed prices on existing iPhone models, but at this point most potential iPhone buyers should wait just a little longer for the new model.

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