Apple is scheduled to begin production of the next-generation iPhone 5S in the current quarter with a potential launch coming this summer, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The paper has been informed by those "familiar with the device's production" that the manufacturing process is ready to begin, "teeing up a possible summer launch"
The report also backed up recent speculation that the device will follow the same design aesthetic as last year's iPhone 5 handset, sticking with the 4-inch screen despite a host of full HD 5-inch offerings like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One arriving in recent months.
The report does not make clear how the inner workings of the iPhone 5S will be upgraded in order to constitute an improvement.
However, it's likely that the company will roll out a new A-series processor, while improved battery and camera tech are usually part of the incremental improvements Apple serves up each year.
The story follows speculation from Japan on Friday also claiming a June launch and July on sale date, was on the cards. Reports on Tuesday also claimed Steve Jobs had worked on the design of the iPhone 5S before his death in October 2011.
The next flagship iPhone will be joined by a less expensive version of the device in the second half of the year, according to the WSJ.
It will also boast a 4-inch display, the report claims, but a different material and colour will be used for the casing.
Previously the company had not dismissed reports that it would seek to lower the iPhone's premium reputation by releasing a scaled back version of its best-selling handset.
In previous years the company has attempted to achieve this by keeping the previous generation of the device on sale and simply lowering the cost.
However, demand for cheaper smartphones, especially in the far east, may mean Apple could be willing to compromise on build and features in order to combat Samsung's continued rise.
Remember, Apple said it wouldn't be launching an iPad mini, so nothing can be ruled out.
What are your hopes for the new iPhone 5S? Would a budget iPhone also interest you? Let us know in the comments section below.