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Survey: 35 percent of consumers will pounce on iPhone 5

PriceGrabber finds in its recent survey of U.S. consumers that there's a huge pent-up hunger for the next version of Apple's smartphone.

Will the iPhone 4 be replaced soon?
Will the iPhone 4 be replaced soon?

Apple's iPhone 5 hasn't even been announced yet, but already U.S. consumers are poised to buy it.

According to PriceGrabber, which conducted a study earlier this month with 2,852 U.S. respondents, 35 percent of consumers plan to buy the iPhone 5 when it's released. Moreover, the online-shopping service found that 51 percent of consumers will buy Apple's reportedly upcoming smartphone in its first year of availability, while 31 percent will pick it up before the end of 2011.

The only issue is, there isn't an iPhone 5 for those consumers to buy. And so far, Apple hasn't made any indication that it will be launching that device.

As in previous years, Apple was expected to unveil the latest iPhone at its Worldwide Developers Conference last month. But it wasn't to be. And since then, speculation has run rampant over when the company might offer up a new version of its smartphone.

Last month, both Boy Genius Report and Bloomberg reported that Apple would be launching the iPhone 5 in September. Following that, Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore said Apple will actually show off two iPhones later this year, including an updated iPhone 4 and the iPhone 5. BMO Capital analyst Keith Bachman said that Apple will release just one update this year, the iPhone 4S, which will launch in September.

This month, the rumors have continued, with DigiTimes saying that Apple has requested manufacturers produce 15 million iPhone 5 devices for a September release--just a few days after the same publication cited sources who said the smartphone will launch in October. The Wall Street Journal said that its sources have confirmed a 25-million-unit order from Apple in preparation for a third-quarter launch.

Judging by PriceGrabber's survey, consumers are certainly planning on a new iPhone arriving soon. And when those folks finally get to see the iPhone 5, PriceGrabber found that they will be most happy if the device has better battery life than the iPhone 4. A cheaper price was cited as a desired feature by 55 percent of respondents. Another 46 percent of respondents said 4G was important to them.

Apple's appeal seems to be partly rooted in the company's iOS platform. According to PriceGrabber, 48 percent of respondents said that they prefer iOS to all other mobile operating systems. Just 19 percent said that they would choose Android over all others, while 7 percent of consumers picked Windows Phone. RIM's BlackBerry operating system came in last at 6 percent. And when consumers thought about receiving gifts, 69 percent said that they would prefer to get the iPhone 5, compared to just 7 percent for the Motorola Droid Bionic. The Samsung Galaxy S II came in third by attracting the eye of 4 percent of respondents.

Of course, a popular iPhone is nothing new. During its fiscal third quarter ended June 19, Apple sold 20.34 million iPhones, representing a gain of 142 percent over the same period last year.