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You know when Apple is about to do anything regarding phones, as all the telco stores cancel their staff vacation. On that basis, expect to get your hands on the new iPhone pretty soon, or at least you'll know why all those sad, lonely people are queuing.

Weren't Planning A Vacation Were You?

Pretty much confirming the iPhone's street date, AT&T stores are putting up a staff full court press by blacking out the dates of 20 to 22 September (Friday to Sunday), which usually only happens with major device launches. Is it for the new Nokia tablet? We don't think so. Could it be the new Galaxy Note III and Galaxy Gear smartwatch? Possibly, but all points suggest this is the key confirmation of the new iPhone launch date. 

That ties in neatly with being just a week and a bit after Apple's likely launch event and with photos from China showing almost packaged iPhones ready to leave the factories, the shipping planes or container boats must be revved up and ready to go. 

Last year's iPhone 5 launch event seems so long ago, and died down pretty quickly after, but the sequence of events was:

  • 4 September - Press Invites to launch event go out
  • 12 September - Launch event takes place
  • 19 September - iOS 6 made available as a free upgrade
  • 12 September - Pre-orders go live, Apple's servers grind to a halt
  • 21 September - Stores open for business

This time around we suspect that iOS 7 might be made available for older devices after the launch, to add to the exclusivity of the new models, along with the champagne gold version. But we'd be pretty stunned if Apple varied too much from this pattern. 

Can Apple Muster Any Street Vibe?

Phone launches used to be massive things, but that was, perhaps, three-or-four years ago. It is hard to remember genuine excitement over any launch since the iPhone 5, but even then the numbers of sleep-outs and those in line seem down on previous years. While the press might get all excited over six dudes in sleeping bags, the fervor of recent years is definitely passing. 

With most users tied into their contracts, there are simply less free bodies to form those lines. Perhaps that is why Apple is launching its own official trade-in scheme to boost business and why telcos are creating contracts with smart upgrade options to reduce the hassle of getting the latest models. 

While Apple's market share is falling, we can still expect the company to sell millions over the launch weekend around the world, thanks to its ninja supply chain and eager telcos ready to cash in. It only remains to find out exactly what's inside each skinny metal (or plastic) case and what surprises, if any, Apple can spring.