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Summer iPhone debut in Apple's plans?

The latest rumor would have Apple returning to its summer product introduction cycle for its flagship smartphone.

The last time Apple held a summer iPhone introduction, it was 2010's iPhone 4. The company now may be returning to that calendar timetable as The Wall Street Journal has reported that "a possible summer launch" is in the cards for the next version of its flagship device.

The unit is described as being "similar in size and shape" to Apple's current iPhone. Meanwhile, the Journal says that the company continues to work on a less expensive unit that could see the light of day sometime during the second half of the year.

Apple has gone with a fall release for the past two iPhone models. The latest, the iPhone 5, debuted at an event in September, with a release later in the month. Before that, the iPhone 4S was shown off and released in October.

The timing could mean that Apple would introduce the device at its annual developers conference, which has not yet been announced, but typically takes place in early June. The only thing that complicates that theory is that Apple goes through several months of beta testing among developers with each new iteration of iOS, which in the past has been timed around each iPhone.