Summary:

Reports surrounding Apple’s next iPhone are beginning to stream in, and a new one today claims that the next-generation iPhone will launch during the third quarter. Sources reportedly within Apple’s supply chain also say initial shipment estimates for the new device are high.

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Reports surrounding Apple’s next iPhone are beginning to stream in, with the Wall Street Journal making a claim today that the next-generation iPhone will launch during the third quarter. That’s in keeping with a recent story from DigiTimes that pegged September as the targeted launch time frame for a new iPhone.

But while DigiTimes claimed that an initial order for 15 million units was placed with Pegatron, the Wall Street Journal‘s sources, cited as people at Apple’s suppliers, say that the first few million units will be assembled by Hon Hai, Apple’s No. one product assembly partner and the parent company of Foxconn.

One source that spoke to the Wall Street Journal specified that Apple hoped to ship 25 million new thinner, lighter iPhones by the end of 2011 and had instructed its suppliers to prepare to meet that goal. To put that target in perspective, the original iPhone 4 sold 3 million units in its first three weeks, and analysts are predicting that the Verizon iPhone 4, which represents just one variant of the iPhone 4 available to one carrier in one country, could sell 23.5 million units by the end of 2011. Apple should expect stronger interest in a new iPhone for the reasons I outlined Tuesday, including massive growth in China and more existing iPhone owners eligible for upgrade pricing.

Even with sizable initial orders, supply could still be constrained, according to reports. Two of the Journal‘s sources noted that the yield rate at Hon Hai for the new iPhone design remains quite low, since it’s “complicated and difficult to assemble.”

If past releases prove an accurate example, we can expect to see an increased frequency in these kinds of reports now that the next iPhone’s launch appears to be a couple of months out. As always, take them with a grain of salt, but also keep in mind that a September launch is the most logical choice for the introduction of Apple’s new iPhone, and the supply chain often acts as a source of prerelease leaks once it starts gearing up for full-scale production.

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