The Apple iPhone 5, when it does come, is expected to lead the company's product line for 2012. However, the road ahead for the device may not be as smooth as its developers would like. The Cupertino-based company's primary competitor - Samsung - is lurking around, waiting to push out a variety of devices aimed at curbing the growth of the iPhone 5, increase competition levels and basically start a last-man-standing battle.

As smartphones begin to assume greater importance in the daily routines of the world's growing population, the iPhone 5 could prove to be a pivotal point in deciding what technology catches the masses' attention, by blending software precision and consumer satisfaction.

However, it is important to note that any discussion on the release of the iPhone 5 must consider the growing popularity of the iPhone 4S and the fact that several users are still coming to grips with their present handsets and its new features.

Nevertheless, the mystery surrounding the iPhone 5 and associated rumors constitute the most sought-after information, especially among feature-hungry fans with smartphones that offer only basic specifications. The point is that as futuristic processors, 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology network expansions and cloud-based usage become increasingly in demand - with the vision of a high-tech future in everybody's eyes - the iPhone 5 could hold the answer to Apple's ever-increasing network of applications.

As predicted by Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, Apple is looking to merge the iOS (iPhone/iPad) and the OS X (Macintosh) into a single platform for apps and cloud services; the process is expected to start sometime in 2012-13 and finish by 2016. It is hoped this will help the iPhone 5 (and future iterations) to become a mobile device that offers a vast blended eco-system containing the entirety of Apple's software and hardware product range.

Meanwhile, as we wait for more confirmed news about the iPhone 5, here is a look at a fresh batch of rumors...

Quad-Core A6 Processor:
The Apple A5 chipset, released in 2011, was injected first into the iPad 2 and later made its way to the iPhone 4S. The company's newest processor - the quad-core A6 - could be launched in a similar vein.

The A6 is expected to power the next iterations of the iPad and the iPhone (3 and 5, respectively). However, there have been doubts expressed over the readiness of the processor before June. This means the chip is unlikely to see the light of day before the fall of this year, i.e. could be seen at the same time the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S were launched last year.

Incidentally, an earlier DigiTimes report suggested that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. have quietly secured a contract to cover the manufacture of the A5's successor - the quad-core A6 - as well as its successors. An equally interesting piece of information is that some enterprising developers have uncovered a beta code in iOS 5.1 that suggests quad-core processors are on the cards, for both the iPhones and the iPads.

If the iPhone 5 is to offer a powerful quad-core processor, full voice functionality for Siri and a range of new features, software and updates, Apple simply has to consider upgrading the amount of RAM available.

The present iPhone 4S has 512MB of RAM and the iPhone 5 is expected to come with a full gigabyte (1GB) of RAM. Essentially, RAM is one of the quickest and most efficient ways with which to boost performance and cover the speed gap. Increased amounts of RAM help in smoother multitasking, faster Internet surfing, spectacular gaming capabilities and enhanced multimedia presentations.

Design Change:
The iPad 2 has considerably more aesthetic appeal, compared to the first generation of Apple's tablets, sporting, as they do, an aluminum coating that has now become an Apple standard.

According to a BGR report, the iPhone 5 is not only expected to feature the aluminum back but also be surrounded by a plastic or rubberized bezel. The report speculates that one purpose of this feature could be to cover a re-designed antenna system that surrounds the device, allowing Apple to build the rear case out of aluminum and without having to use a large plastic insert, as they do with the iPad 2. In addition, the iPhone 5 is also expected to be thinner, longer and wider than the previous iPhones.

Bigger display:
The iPhone 5 will most probably boast an innovative display technology based on adjoining and round pixels. If Apple is indeed planning to adopt an edge-to-edge curved 4-inch display, there is one - Toshiba's 4-inch (1280 by 720 pixels) HD display, with a density of 367 ppi (incidentally, this is a similar ratio to the one found in Apple's Retina display of 960 by 640 pixels at 326 ppi) is already available in the market, as the company demonstrated in May last year.

Meanwhile, the newest Samsung smartphone - the Galaxy Nexus - has no physical "Home" button; a development received with rave reviews and a decision that has made the phone more appealing to users and one of the best, if not the best, smartphones in the market today.

This leads one to consider the possibility that part of Apple's radical re-design of physical elements could include the replacement of a physical "Home" button with gesture-based commands a possibility.

The three new patent applications from Apple, as published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) detailed Apple's revolutionary I/O technology, called Thunderbolt. The most interesting part is the possibility of Thunderbolt being used in iOS devices.

The Cupertino-based tech giant has detailed the possibility of establishing a connection between mobile devices, in one of the three applications.

The company, in its secondary patent application, stated "a connection may be provided between a portable media player and a display; a computer and a portable media player; or between other types of devices."

However, for this to happen, Apple will have to re-engineer the connector to be flat enough to fit a USB-type device slot. The good news is not only has Apple already been at work in that department but the speeds of data transfer and recharging, under that technology, will be lightning fast.

Furthermore, since the iPhone 5 features the iOS operating system, the handset will have the privilege of a Thunderbolt port... and, by the way, this connection should enable data transfer speeds of up to 10GB per second!

4G LTE chipset:
"The first generation of LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises with the handset and some of those we are just not willing to make," said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's Chief Financial Officer (CFO), in an earlier interview.

However, with 4G network expansions and the concurrent development of smaller 4G LTE chips and radical design changes for the iPhone 5, it could be that Apple may embed the LTE chip in their new product, keeping power consumption problems in mind.