Apple has sent invites for a September 15 (September 15 NZT) event called "California Streaming," at which the company is expected to unveil its latest line of iPhones.
Since 2013, Apple has typically rolled out new iPhone models each September. Last year, it was delayed until October amid the pandemic.
"California streaming" is a reference to the fact that for the second year in a row, the event will be a virtual affair.
Some have predicted the "iPhone 14" (if that's what the new line is called) will support for satellite communications - a feature that could potentially take advantage of the sudden proliferation of low-Earth orbit satellite networks.
But one high-profile US analyst is expecting more incremental improvements, such as a faster processor, longer battery life and camera upgrades.
"We're in the 5G chapter of the iPhone, which is a multiyear chapter," Gene Munster, a managing partner and Apple analyst with venture-capital firm Loup Ventures told the Wall Street Journal.
5G was introduced to Apple's lineup with its iPhone 13 models last year.
"It's going to be pretty modest over years two and three."
Meanwhile, Bloomberg has reported that Apple's next iPhone lineup will get at least three major new camera and video-recording features, which the company is betting will be key enticements to upgrade from earlier models.
The new handsets will include a video version of the phone's Portrait mode feature, the ability to record video in a higher-quality format called ProRes, and a new filters-like system that improves the look and colours of photos, Bloomberg said, quoting un-named "people familiar with the matter".
Outside of the camera and video upgrades, Bloomberg is also expecting relatively modest upgrades.
For this year, the company will retain the same 5.4-inch and 6.1-inch regular sizes and 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch Pro screen dimensions, as well as their designs, the news agency says.
The new phones will include a faster A15 chip and a smaller notch, also known as the display cutout, in addition to new screen technology that could enable a faster refresh rate for smoother scrolling.
Fanboy sites have pushed the boat out a little further with their "iPhone 14" predictions.
Apple Insider has raised the possibilities that the notch altogether, and possibly go portless.
9to5Mac says Apple will bring back TouchID after dropping the fingerprint recognition feature in favour of facial recognition-only for the iPhone 13.
The September event should also see more details on iOS 15 the software that is expected to power the new iPhones, and be available as a free upgrade for new models.
There's less guesswork here. At Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June, CEO Tim Cook gave a comprehensive preview of the software, which includes major upgrades to the FaceTime, Messages and Photos apps (see video above).
Bucking the trend
The overall narrative. for 2020 was a fall in smartphone sales as work-from-homers diverted funds to laptops and monitors, and the pandemic lead to component shortages.
But Apple managed to buck the trend and achieve record sales.
When many companies in many sectors continue to suffer chips shortages, Apple managed to secure priority access.
Apple remains the world's most valuable company.
Its shares were up 1.73 per cent to US$158.97 in late trading on the Nasdaq - pushing its market cap to a new all-time high of US$2.59 trillion.