Steve Jobs played a "key role" in development of the iPhone 5

A number of credible outlets are now reporting that Apple's next-gen iPhone, which we'll call the iPhone 5, will feature a larger 4-inch screen. What's more, a recent report claims that Steve Jobs was heavily involved in the development of Apple's 5th generation iPhone, which will likely be released in Fall 2012.

Adding to a chorus of reports pointing to a significant design change for upcoming iPhone, Bloomberg is reporting that Apple's next-gen iPhone will look much different than the iPhone 4 and 4S.

Chief among the expected changes is a larger 4-inch display. Ever since the first iPhone was released in 2007, each iPhone model has sported the same tried and true 3.5-inch display. And while there have been some conflicting reports regarding the possible inclusion of a larger display, credible outlets like the Wall St. Journal, Reuters, and now Bloomberg are reporting that Apple recently placed orders for 4-inch displays.

Interestingly enough, the report also corroborates previous reports that Steve Jobs, before he passed away, worked very closely on the development of what may very well be called the iPhone 5, or perhaps, simply the new iPhone.

Apple has been working on the new device since before the current iPhone 4S model was introduced last October, said one person with knowledge of the project. Jobs, who had gone on medical leave from Apple starting last January, played a key role in developing the phone, this person said.

Remember, one analyst a few months ago claimed that Apple's 5th generation iPhone "was the last project that Steve Jobs was intimately involved with from concept to final design."

And given that Apple products are often in the pipeline for 1-2 years, if not more, before hitting the market, these reports are certainly plausible. Indeed, in the ramp up to the iPhone 4S announcement last year, other sources claimed that Jobs, upon realizing his 'time was limited', devoted most of his energy at Apple towards the successor to the iPhone 4S, which in addition to the rumored 4-inch screen will likely support 4G LTE as well.

To that end, Brooke Crothers of CNET reported a few months ago.

Another source, who I spoke with this week and who claims to have knowledge of the redesign, said the iPhone 5 is a "complete redesign. This is a very large project that Steve dedicated all of his time to. He was not that involved in the 4S because his time was limited."

Production wise, Reuters noted earlier this week that Apple had already ordered displays from LG, Sharp, and Japan Display Inc. and that production might begin as early as June. If indeed accurate, that would point to an iPhone 5 release date sometime in August or September.

But seeing as how the iPhone 4S was released on October 12 of last year, Apple likely wouldn't want to needlessly shorten the lifespan of its most popular iPhone model to date. That said, a late September launch is probably the earliest, in my opinion, that we'll get to see this rumored new iPhone design.

One thing's for sure: seeing as how Apple, come next Fall, will have had the same iPhone form factor for more than two years time, I think it's fair to expect a significant design change regardless of whether Apple chooses to go with a larger display or not. Add in 4G support,iOS 6, and rumors of a revamped Maps app with an incredible 3D viewing option, the iPhone 5 will likely have fans lining up around the block days in advance.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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