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Report: Apple to begin producing iPhone 5 in July

Next-generation smartphone will reportedly begin shipping as early as September, despite some reports Apple might miss a 2011 release.

The much-anticipated iPhone 5 is expected to go into production in July and likely begin shipping in September, according to a brief Reuters report this evening.

Apple's next-generation smartphone will have a faster processor but otherwise have a similar appearance to the iPhone 4, according to the report from Hong Kong, which cited three unidentified people familiar with the matter.

The revelation appears to contradict a major supplier in Southeast Asia that said earlier this month it would not begin production on components for the iPhone 5 until sometime in September--apparently upsetting Apple's traditional summer iPhone release schedule. Apple has also reportedly been taking its time finding components suppliers for the iPhone 5.

Signals that Apple might not release a new iPhone during its usual summer time frame cropped up last month, with a Japanese report claiming Apple was mulling materials for the back of the device, possibly replacing the hardened glass with a metal backing. Additionally, Digitimes reported earlier this month that production was still under way for iPhone 4 panels since the phone continues to sell, perhaps signaling that Apple was in no hurry to move production toward a new product.

In addition to the back of the phone, the device's screen has been of particular interest with reports that Apple was planning to expand its size from the longstanding 3.5 inches to a larger 4-inch "edge-to-edge" screen. Apple's new iPhone has also been rumored to include Apple's A5 processor and a much-improved 8-megapixel rear camera.

Apple sold a record number of iPhone 4s in the previous quarter with 16.2 million units. An analyst report from RBC Capital Markets released last week estimated Apple besting that by nearly a million in its most recent quarter.