AT&T, T-Mobile All But Confirm iPhone 5S Release Date

**Editor’s Note:

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You might as well pull out your September calendar and highlight what almost certainly will be the release date of Apple’s iPhone 5S. Employees at AT&T and T-Mobile already have.

AT&T has reportedly told its workers that they can’t take vacation in the second half of September in anticipation of the iPhone’s release, a moratorium that happens every year around Apple’s annual announcement, BGR noted. A separate report earlier in the day from TMoNews said T-Mobile has made a similar move, blocking time off for workers between Sept. 20 and 22.

The vacation blackouts support all of the speculation out there that Apple will launch its new smartphone on Sept. 20. An official unveiling of the device is expected to happen Sept. 10.

What remains to be seen is if this hardware update generates as much excitement as it usually does. Every year there is more competition in the smartphone market. Apple has been widely criticized as of late for not being innovative enough. And with the new iPhone expected to look much like the old version, we could be in store for a ho-hum launch.

That being said, the 5S is expected to offer a processor that’s 31 percent faster than the one in the iPhone 5. Rumors have suggested new colors and the potential for a fingerprint sensor that adds an extra security feature to the device.

Apple’s biggest announcement next month could surround the so-called “budget” iPhone 5C (if that’s its real name). The company has long said it was against developing a cheaper product that would reduce its iPhone profit margin, but many analysts have said that the Silicon Valley giant needs more than one device per year in order to keep up with Samsung, which has nearly double Apple’s global market share despite the fact that the iPhone is the world’s best-selling smartphone.

Recent reports have indicated that the “5C” might not be so “budget” after all. Skeptical industry insiders believe it might still be too expensive to drive sales in the emerging markets where it’s intended to thrive.

Follow senior online managing editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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