‘iPhone 4S’ Rumors Set Lower Expectations for Tuesday Reveal

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In the iPhone rumor hysteria preceding Apple’s announcement on Tuesday, even the product name is a big deal.

The prevailing theory is that Apple will announce the “iPhone 5,” a name that implies a fresh design and perhaps a larger screen than last year’s iPhone 4. But a new batch of rumors contend that Apple’s next iPhone will actually be called the “iPhone 4S,” suggesting a simple spec boost with no major design changes, akin to the iPhone 3GS of 2009.

(MORE: 35% Will Buy iPhone 5 No Matter What—Will You?)

The evidence? 9to5Mac spotted a reference to the “iPhone 4S” in the latest iTunes beta. Also, Vodafone Germany’s Website lists the “iPhone 4S” in three storage capacities, including 64 GB. Last month, AppleInsider heard from an Indian iPhone repair site that supposedly obtained some iPhone 4S components.

For what it’s worth, some analysts have been saying for months that the next iPhone will pretty much look like the iPhone 4, lending more credence to the iPhone 4S theory. Still, rumors of a redesigned iPhone 5 are backed by leaked cases and screen protectors, some of which show a rounded backside and an extra-wide home button that allows for gesture controls.

In other words, we have no idea what the next iPhone will look like. However, it’s clear that an “iPhone 4S” would have less marketing appeal than an “iPhone 5.” And Apple could only justify the latter monicker if the next iPhone has a new design—even if it’s as simple as a thinner, lighter chassis with the same screen size, the same shape and the same materials.

The latest rumors suggest no big redesign for the next iPhone. But hand it to Apple—and its more sober engineers—for keeping the press guessing until the last possible second.

MORE: 50 Best iPhone Apps of 2011

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