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Report: Next Apple iPhone due summer 2013

This time last year, Apple had unveiled a new iPad, and fanboys were looking toward WWDC for news about iOS 6. But 2013 has been lacking when it comes to Apple launch events, prompting the Apple faithful to question when exactly the Cupertino firm will unveil a new gadget.

A new report from the Wall Street Journal suggests that when it comes to the next iPhone, Apple will release its smartphone this summer. Production on the upgraded device has begun, and will be in our hands by year's end, the paper said.

Summer, of course, lasts until 21 September, so the news could really mean that Apple is sticking to the fall release schedule it has embraced with the iPhone since the 2011 launch of the iPhone 4S - the iPhone 5 was unveiled on 12 September.

The Journal said the new iPhone will likely look very similar to the iPhone 5, but did not have details on how the phone's specs will differ. That's similar to upgrade from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 4S; the devices looked the same, but the iPhone 4S was a bit speedier and included Siri, among other things.

The Journal, however, said Apple is also working on the mythical, low-cost iPhone that would also be 4 inches, but have a cheaper case and different color shells like the iPod touch. That could arrive in the second half of the year, the paper said.

In February, when asked if Apple needed a low-cost iPhone to break into emerging markets, Apple CEO Tim Cook said he views the issue a little differently.

When Apple dropped the price of the iPhone 4 and 4S in conjunction with the iPhone 5 release, "it surprised us as to the level of demand we had" for the earlier versions, he said at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, adding that the company continues to try to make its products more affordable.

"Instead of saying 'How can we cheapen this iPod to get [the price] lower?,' we said 'How can we do a great product?'" Cook said.

The question remains then, when will we see a new iPad? Apple refreshed its tablet lineup in October with the iPad mini and the 4th-generation iPad, but March - when Apple usually reveals a new iPad - came and went without a peep from Cupertino.

Apple is holding its first quarter earnings call on 23 April, and while the company never makes any product announcements on those calls, Cook does sometimes provide some good sound bites that might provide a glimpse into what the company has up its sleeve for 2013.