The next generation model of the Cupertino-based giant's hugely popular smartphone - popularly called the iPhone 5 - is only a few months away from its release, according to a source believed to be a Foxconn employee, a report on 9to5mac said.

There are, apparently, quite a few prototypes being circulated, making it hard to distinguish the real device, inside sources have commented. However, from what is known, one of the prototypes is expected to enter production phase and be introduced during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which usually takes place in June. The launch should then be later in the summer.

An interesting point is that the prototypes share common features like a display size greater than 4 inches (4.2 to 4.3-inch qHD screen with 960 x 540 resolution), are symmetrical in their thickness and are longer and wider than the iPhone 4S. An equally interesting point is that all the prototypes have varying form factors, although none of them appear to be the teardrop-shaped phone commonly expected last year.

Apple launched the iPhone 4S last year, which was an internally-revised upgrade of the iPhone 4. The question they must then ask themselves is if the launch of the latter's full-fledged successor, less than a year after the 4S rolled out to a superb reception, risks angering their fans. However, with their new production bases set, Apple could well be on track to introduce that fabled next generation smartphone sometime in 2012.

The other rumors surrounding the iPhone 5 include a quad-core A6 28-nm SoC processor co-developed by Samsung, 1GB of RAM, 4G LTE chips and the inclusion of Apple's revolutionary I/O technology, called Thunderbolt. In fact, Apple has already been working on this technology for quite some time and if it indeed does come embedded inside the next iPhone, then data transfer and recharging could well be lightning fast.