APPLE is expected to launch a larger, thinner iPhone 5 a week from today - just as Nokia and Motorola are preparing their own offerings to tempt Christmas shoppers.
The notoriously secretive company triggered speculation about the new handset yesterday when it invited journalists to an event in San Francisco - with an invitation that consists of the number 12 casting a shadow of the number 5.
The anticipated gadget would follow on from last year's iPhone 4S. But while that release introduced small cosmetic changes, this year's is expected to be radical - and the first big step by Apple since the death of company co-founder Steve Jobs in October last year.
Photographs of components reckoned to have come from Apple's many suppliers in China over the past five months point to a device with a larger 10.7cm (4.2in) screen and a thinner body, and a new nine-pin connector at its base replacing the 30-pin one on existing iPhones and iPads.
Current iPhones have an 8.9cm screen - measured diagonally - but even the expected larger size of the iPhone 5 will be smaller than the 12.2cm Samsung Galaxy S3. But Apple is expected to try other measures to compete with its South Korean rival.