Latest rumours out of Asia's supply chain hint at Apple launching three new smartphones in 2013. Besides the next generation iPhone, Apple is believed to be working on a cheaper version of its flagship phone and a mysterious phablet with a 4.8-inch screen tentatively dubbed the ‘iPhone Math’.

Based on sources from upstream supply chain, investment news service BrightWire reported that the Cupertino-based company will unveil the three devices at staggered launches in 2013, with the first two being the next-generation iPhone and the 4.8-inch iPhone Math. Both are expected to sport 8 megapixel cameras. A third device, believed to be the iPhone 5S, is set to be launched at the end of the year; it will have a 12-megapixel camera. 

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Three new iPhones are rumoured to launch in 2013

Recently, there has been talk of Apple releasing a more affordable iPhone this year, but this is the first time that the so-called iPhone Math has been revealed. China Times, which picked up the BrightWire story, reports the company hopes to stay competitive in light of recent launches by rival Android smartphone manufacturers, which boast large displays and are branded as go-to devices for creative professionals. In 2012, Apple upped the screen size of the iPhone to 4 inches and now that seems to be a watershed moment. The new phablet will be positioned to take on the likes of Samsung's Galaxy Note series, as well as HTC and Sony's new 5-inch devices. 

While clear details of the mysterious iPhone Math remain scarce, sources claim it will feature a display measuring at least 4.8 inches diagonal, almost a whole inch larger than the current iPhone 5. Form-factor and screen resolution are unknown at the moment, but a Retina-class display cannot be ruled out. What is known is that it will feature an 8-megapixel camera with lenses built by Largan Precision. The Chinese firm will be supplying nearly 8 million camera lenses for the next generation iPhone as well.

While this is the first piece of information about a new device, earlier reports have noted that the next-generation iPhone will likely include a fingerprint scanner built into the Home button as a result of Apple’s acquisition of AuthenTec. The fingerprint scanner, which ironically was part of the rumour mill in the build up to the iPhone 5 launch, will replace the standard practice of usernames and passwords, allowing users to authenticate in a more efficient manner while also allowing users to integrate the fingerprint credentials with apps such as Passbook and mobile payment apps.

The rumour mills are also buzzing with word of a more affordable iPhone range. The new model will be similar in design to the iPhone 5 but will feature a plastic or polycarbonate chassis instead of the more expensive aluminium chassis and is believed to be available in six different colours. 

Component shipments for the two handsets, i.e. touchscreen panels, cameras etc., will reportedly begin in March before a late-April production timeline. Apple's manufacturing partner Foxconn is said to be responsible for putting together 90 percent of the orders. These claims are in line with previous analyst predictions regarding the production timeline of the iPhone 5 follow-up as manufacturing is expected to begin in March ahead of a launch in Q2. 

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