Apple Rumor Patrol: Welcome To iPhone 5 Day

Let's look at all the hottest rumors—and then rate the chances of them actually happening!

The Truth About iPhone 5 Sales?

So we know Apple's revealing it's new iPhone today. It likely will be called the iPhone 5—and we believe this, unless Apple's pulling some clever stunt by rebranding the iPhone 4S as an entry level device alongside the newly redesigned iPhone 6 (unlikely, but a nice idea). There is already a lot out there about its design and its innards.

But what remains unknown for now is how well it'll sell, and that's suddenly become a hot topic thanks to Wall Street analysts, rounded up by AllThingsD, who suspect the device will be the hottest-selling iPhone yet. It may even bump up the U.S. GDP.

It's a good bet that it'll beat the iPhone 4S's first weekend, with 4 million sold in seven countries on the launch weekend. That's because the iPhone 5 is a radical redesign, and likely to be hot property. Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster is the most bullish with a prediction of 6 to 10 million sold...which would make the iPhone 5 one of the fastest selling bits of consumer electronics ever.

We don't think the iPhone will go on sale this week, so we won't know how good these guesses are for a few weeks. But it is likely that pre-orders will happen—and we think they'll surpass the million pre-orders the 4S managed in its first day.

Rumor rating: 5 out of 5 for beating the iPhone 4S's record. 3 out of 5 for reaching 10 million sold.

Thunderbolt And Lightning, Very Very Frightening

Apple's new dock connector seems likely to debut with the new iPhone, but until now we've had no idea what to call it—and no, "new iPod connector" won't cut it. Now 9to5Mac has heard from sources that it'll be dubbed "Lightning," which is a nice counter to Apple's speedy Thunderbolt port used on its MacBooks. This prompts the question of if there will be optional Thunderbolt powers in the new iPhone, which would be speedier than USB.

Other Apple pickers have wondered if Lightning is just a hint that the device is USB 3 compatible, which would be faster than USB 2, and—thanks to the specification's higher power rating—potentially allow faster charging of the iPhone when connected to a PC. USB 3 would also let Apple appeal to more PC users whose laptops sport USB3.

Still more rumors suggest that Apple's "Lightning" to old-iPod dock convertor will come in a couple of versions, including one with a short cable. It may be an Apple exclusive, at least at first.

Rumor rating: 4 out of 5 for "Lightning," 4 out of 5 for USB 3, 3 out of 5 for versions of the dock connector.

Is That A Tentacle In Your Earpod?

Apple's bundled headset with the iPhone is a development of the original iPod one...and it's generally not been well received. Hence Apple's said to be debuting a redesign alongside the iPhone 5. Dubbed "Earpod" the shape is more form-fitting to prevent it slipping out of some folks' ears. It seems it's also been acoustically designed to direct more sound down one's ear canal.

This seems pretty plausible and the leaked examples, while potentially being cloned or semi-cloned Apple gear coming from an Eastern manufacturer (a risk in all such leaks), are very consistent with Apple design.

Rumor rating: 4 out of 5 for a redesign, 3 out of 5 for "Earpod."

A Tall iPod Touch Please, To Go

Alongside the several leaked iPhone 5 parts, some pieces of an updated iPod Touch have also been spotted. Most interesting among these is a fascia which suggests the new Touch will inherit the bigger, taller 4-inch screen that the iPhone 5 is going to get. This is a sensible move from Apple, with the Touch seen as a "gateway" iOS device that gets more consumers aboard the iTunes platform due to its lower price. A consistent screen size is also useful for app writers.

Other rumors suggest the Touch will get a new CPU—perhaps the same version of the smaller-die A5 chip that currently powers the Apple TV (actually a beefed-up iPad 2 chip). That's also plausible, as consistency like this keeps production costs down. And the price of the Touch is going to be something to watch: It's currently starting at $199, but if Apple really is releasing a cheap 7-inch iPad "mini" then the Touch's price may be a bit close to the $200-$300 range being suggested for the new device. That's why some suggest the old iPod touch will remain on sale at a much reduced price.

Rumor rating: 5 out of 5 for a taller iPod Touch, 5 out of 5 for new CPU, 2 out of 5 for old Touch still on sale.

Nano-Nano. This is SIM Calling

We know there's a newly-agreed standard for smaller SIM cards, and that it follows Apple's proposal versus designs favored by other players like Nokia. We don't know if it'll be central to the iPhone 5—where its reduced size frees up space inside the phone for more important gear like batteries.

But it's beginning to look like the new iPhone will support the new Nano SIM standard because operators, like Vodafone in the U.K., are already stocking up on them ahead of the Apple event. Vodafone, just one of Britain's phone networks, even says it has 500,000 ready for the first weekend, which could lend credence to the idea Apple will sell 10 million phones in the first rush.

Rumor rating: 4 out of 5 for an iPhone 5 with a Nano Sim

Panorama Drama

Though you probably never knew it, your current iPhone (running iOS 5) can snap panoramic photos...but you have to jailbreak your phone to do so because Apple turned it off. It seems the algorithm wasn't great.

Now MacRumors is suggesting the new iPhone and the updated iPod Touch will have Panorama photo powers. It's a small tweak, but it'll appeal to some potential buyers. There's a chance it's just an iOS 6 tweak, though, and it's unclear if Apple's older iPhones—or at least, some of them—will be able to do so, too.

Rumor rating: 4 out of 5. (Ed note: We'd love to see this.)

iPad Mini Cooper S

With more leaked parts arriving for a purported iPad "mini" there are still three big questions to be answered: Will Apple reveal it today (or in another event in October), is it actually real, and if it is real...what'll it be called? "Mini" tallies with older iPod surnames, but could imply an under-performing iPad—unless consumers remember the amazing speedy Mini Cooper S car which blazed through the racing world in the 1960s.

Rumor rating: 2 out of 5 for an appearance today, 4 out of 5 for an October appearance, 4 out of 5 for being real.

All We Need Is Radio iTunes

The Wall Street Journal raised a few eyebrows recently when it suggested that Apple was working on a Pandora-like streaming "radio" system for iTunes, to complement its current cloud service. The article dented Pandora's stock price, so some punters obviously credited the WSJ for really being on to something.

We're inclined to believe Apple probably is working on an expansion of iTunes to include more streaming services for music, and a Pandora-like system would appeal to many customers. At issue is international licensing though: Arranging the right deals with the rights holders in many nations would be a big matter for Apple.

Rumor rating: 3 out of 5 for being true, 3 out of 5 for showing up today. (Ed. note: It is possible Apple may surprise us with this, however. We also expect to see iTunes news like a bigger user count and perhaps expansion to more nations.)

[Image: Flickr user Jasper Nance]

Chat about this news with Kit Eaton on Twitter and Fast Company too.

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