CNN Story Highlights
(CNN) -- It's looking like Apple's next version of its iconic smartphone will be called the iPhone 5.
On Tuesday, the secretive company sent e-mails to members of the media, inviting them to an "invitation-only event" in San Francisco on Wednesday, September 12.
The event is widely expected to be the launch of the next iPhone, but in typically cryptic Apple fashion, the invitation reveals little about what will be announced. The tagline says only, "It's almost here."
Of course, that never stops Apple obsessives from parsing the invite for clues. This time, the shadow of the number 12 reveals a not-so-subtle "5," reinforcing speculation that the new device will be called iPhone 5 instead of iPhone 4G or something else.
The official announcement of the September 12 date confirms what several media outlets first reported five weeks ago, citing anonymous sources at Apple.
A fall iPhone release has been considered a foregone conclusion by most observers for months. Among the device's rumored new features are a slightly larger screen, a faster processor, a smaller dock connector and possibly NFC technology that would make it easier for shoppers to make payments through their phones.
iMore, the first blog to pinpoint the September 12 launch date, has also said pre-orders will begin that day and that the phone will be released nine days later, on September 21.
Many pundits also expect Apple to launch a smaller version of its popular iPad tablet at a separate event, likely in October.
Next week's Apple event will begin at 10 a.m. PT. CNN Tech will be liveblogging the announcement.