The latest Beta version of Apple's iTunes software name-checks the "iPhone 4S", all-but cementing the idea that the next iteration of the iPhone will be the iPhone 4S rather than the iPhone 5.
A new Beta version of iTunes was released on Friday 31 September, and contained references to the "iPhone 4S", clearly not a device in Apple's current (as of the time of writing) line-up. The name appears twice within the program's code, referring to white and black models, and is accompanied by a picture that appears identical to the current iPhone 4. 9to5mac first reported these findings, but it has since also been spotted that these references have existed within the iTunes software for a month, since iTunes Beta 6.1, which was released on 29 August.
That it took a month to get a proper airing is beside the point, though. These references clearly suggest that tomorrow, at Apple's next press conference, we're likely to hear of the new iPhone 4S rather than an iPhone 5. This naming suggests the new product will offer iterative changes - an evolutionary step rather than a revolutionary one. Then again, that's much what we were expecting anyway.
The iPhone 4 "look" is still young. It has only been around for a generation, while the previous curvy design lasted from the iPhone's birth in 2007 to the iPhone 4's launch in June 2010 (and lived on in the still-sold iPhone 3GS). The same is true of the "Retina Display" screen introduced in the iPhone 4 - it's still relatively new, so expecting these features to be proverbially blown out of the water is to expect a little too much.
If you want the next iPhone to look different, you may be disappointed
Our best guess is that the iPhone 4S will feature an upgraded camera sensor and a dual-core processor, as well as offering a 64GB model. These changes alone should be enough to see it sail comfortably into 2012 with its user-facing camera held high. Think differently? Drop us a line in the comments below.
Apple's press conferece kicks off at 6pm GMT on 4 October. Come back then for the full officially-confirmed story.