Apple readies iPhone 5 launch as pressure to succeed mounts

APPLE will unveil the latest version of the world’s best selling phone this week, as it faces increasing pressure to impress in the wake of competition from rival manufacturers.

The next version of the iPhone – due to be revealed on Wednesday evening – is seen as crucial to the world’s biggest company’s continued success. The iPhone has accounted for more than half of Apple’s revenues this year, although sales in the last quarter disappointed, with many buyers holding off until the next version of the handset goes on sale.

The latest model, believed to be called the iPhone 5, is set to be a far more radical upgrade than last year’s launch of the iPhone 4S.

Invitations for Wednesday’s event in San Francisco, sent out last week, moved shares to a new high on Friday as anticipation rose. Apple is notoriously secretive about its products, but the new iPhone is expected to be thinner with a larger screen.

However, with the global smartphone market more competitive than ever, chief executive Tim Cook is expected to need a surprise feature to keep Apple at the head of the market.

Nokia and Motorola both unveiled new smartphones last week, and Apple’s major rival Samsung has seen major success with its Galaxy SIII model.