A Japan-based report indicates that production of at least one key component for the next iPhone will begin next month.
Sharp will begin volume production in June of the display "panel" for the "next" iPhone model at its Kameyama plant in Mie prefecture, according to a report in Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, a major Japanese industrial newspaper.
Sharp's Kameyama plant has not been operating at anywhere near full capacity but production of the next iPhone's display is expected to bring the plant to "full production," the report said.
The specifications for next iPhone -- which is rumored to be called the iPhone 5S -- are "similar" to the current model, the newspaper said.
There have been rumors that the iPhone 5S will be delayed, with stern warnings from analysts that Apple needs to bring out the next iPhone model by the third calendar quarter.
This news could indicate that may be the case.
Sharp will be joined by LG Display and Japan Display -- the latter combines the former display businesses of Sony Mobile Display, Toshiba Mobile Display and Hitachi Displays -- in panel production. Production schedules for LGD and Japan Display were not mentioned in the report.
The release of the next iPhone is expected to coincide with the availability of iOS 7, the next operating system for Apple's mobile devices. The new iPhone will also likely have new innards, possibly including an updated processor.