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Apple, iPhone Enter the Post-Jobs Era

CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- These are momentous times at Apple (AAPL - Get Report). Just a couple of weeks after Steve Jobs stepped down, new CEO Tim Cook gets to launch a major product: the iPhone 5.

What can investors expect from the new iPhone launch, rumored to be imminent? Initial speculation tagged Sep. 7 as a potential launch date, although this now seems unlikely. Apple, however, typically debuts a major product in the late summer/early fall.

With Apple under increasing pressure from a deluge of Google (GOOG - Get Report) Android devices, the stakes are high for the new iPhone, said Sandeep Aggarwal, an analyst at research firm Digital Route.

"Given that Android has become much stronger competitor since the last iPhone release, Apple must show some killer features/apps to make a bigger dent in the Android ecosystem," he told TheStreet.

The headline-grabber for the new iPhone 5 is widely expected to be a "world phone" capability, enabling the device to run on all U.S. and European networks. There has also been talk that Sprint( S ) will join AT&T (T - Get Report) and Verizon (VZ - Get Report) as an Apple iPhone partner, extending the iPhone 5's reach well beyond that of its predecessors.

While tech watchers generally agree that the new iPhone, running the next iteration of iOS 5 software, will be faster, there's been plenty of chatter about it having a bigger screen than the 3.5-inch frame sported by the iPhone 4. Industry trade magazine eWeek also predicts improved graphical capabilities and, potentially, near-field communication (NFC) technology for mobile payments.

A 4G LTE version of the iPhone, however, will likely not appear until next year.

In addition to the new iPhone 5, we could see a stripped-down freebie iPhone, aimed at the low end of the market.

True to form, Apple hasn't publicly said anything about its next iPhone plans and has not yet responded to TheStreet's request for comment on its iPhone launch plans.

The biggest change for Apple as it prepares to roll out its hardware, however, will be the absence of Steve Jobs at the company's helm. A visionary capable of predicting major shifts in the consumer tech landscape, Jobs was also a master tactician, carefully orchestrating the company's launches for maximum impact.
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