Apr 05, 2013 03:50 PM EDT

iPhone 5S Release Date: Rumor Mill Churns Again, Suggesting Summer Release

Despite Apple being a notoriously secretive company, Apple fan blogs and websites are at it again, predicting when the next iPhone 5S will be released and several reports suggest summer 2013.

The Wall Street Journal cites sources familiar with the product and says the company is slated to begin production of a refreshed iPhone similar in size and shape to its current one in the second quarter of the year. This falls in line with everything that we've heard so far about the launch of the iPhone 5S, a device that is rumored to be replacing the iPhone 5 with only minor updates.

That sets Apple's next iPhone up for a launch as soon as this summer, which would be a change from the later iPhone 5 launch Apple instituted last year.

In addition, Apple is also said to be working on a less expensive iPhone model and Apple may be testing "different color shells" with that handset. That phone will reportedly retain the 4-inch display of the iPhone 5.   It's believed that such a device would be targeted at China and Brazil, in particular. That handset is said to have plastic or polycarbonate body that would allow Apple to sell the device at a lower cost. The current iPhone 5 has a metal back, while the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 feature glass cases.

The Wall Street Journal offered no indication as to whether an "iPhone 5S" might include a fingerprint sensor underneath the home button for secure transactions. Those claims were first made in January by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has a strong track record in predicting Apple's future product pipeline.

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