Many Apple carriers claim October iPhone 5 release

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This week’s fresh iPhone 5 release date rumors emanate from among Apple’s US, European and Asia carrier partners, as it is reportedly close to wrapping-up development of iOS 5, its next-generation, iCloud-savvy mobile OS.

Get onto iCloud

Apple’s iOS 5 development is on track to hit Gold Master status around September 23. The new OS will then be distributed to carriers for final network testing, after which AppleInsider predicts an October 10 release for iOS 5, because that’s when AppleCare staff have been warned to expect up to eight times the usual volume of calls. This is broadly in line with the last batch of claims, which also pointed to an October release.

The race is on: Apple’s manufacturers are already churning out units of the new device, which are apparently sitting unboxed waiting for iOS 5 to be declared fit for release, at which point the software will be installed. This means the next-gen iPhone will hit retail at some point subsequent to the release of iOS 5: but when will that be?

Appearing on a French business news show to speak definitively while remaining guardedly conditional, Orange CEO, Stephane Richard, said: “If I believe what we heard, the iPhone 5 will be released [on] October 15.”

UK carrier, Vodafone, has also done its bit to contribute to the iPhone release date rumor mill with the seemingly accidental publication of partial product descriptions on its website. These revealed that the iPhone 5 will be available in black or white with both 16GB and 32GB models made available.

Staggering sales

No word yet on whether the international release will be staggered or simultaneous with the US ship date, though a report last week cited an anonymous O2 staff member who claimed the iPhone will ship in the UK on October 21.

It’s an unusual report in that it cites a “tipster” who “spoke with customer services at O2″. This begs the question as to why customer service reps would either be aware of or share such sensitive information, though the report supports expectation of a staggered international release schedule.

Claims of a mid-October product introduction are broadly in line with analyst predictions. Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts the GM iOS 5 software should reach manufacturers in the week between September 23-30, but warns the new iPhone will be “virtually identical” to the iPhone 4, and may even just be called the “iPhone 4S”.

In the US, Sprint will begin selling the device in mid-October, according to Bloomberg’s own sources. Sprint will offer the device on contract with unlimited data, but this move is likely to be copied by Verizon and/or AT&T, despite a prevailing preference among carriers to move toward more traffic management-friendly tiered access charges.

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