This year's iPhone refresh may come slightly earlier than last year's, but still within the general fall timeframe. Not one, but two publications cited sources claiming the device could launch as early as mid-September, with a special Apple event happening earlier in the month. But it wouldn't just be the iPhone that would see a refresh at that time—the rumored "iPad mini" is also supposedly nearing launch, not to mention the first major iPod touch bump in two years.
iMore was the first to name September 12 as a potential date for Apple's fall event. The site has been correct in the past about Apple event dates, though Apple deciding definitively on a September date this early on seems almost too early from our perspective. Still, iMore believes Apple plans to announce a new iPhone as well as the iPad mini, and that the new iPhone would be available to the public on Friday, September 21.
iLounge then followed up with more information from a source about what they believe will be updated in September. iLounge supports iMore's assertion that the new iPhone will indeed launch in September instead of October (like it did last year), but it seems much more ambiguous about a potential iPad mini launch. "The iPad mini will apparently not be ready to ship at the same time as the new iPhone, and might have its own debut event," wrote iLounge Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horowitz. "Our source says that it could ship by November, which we noted would be really close to year’s end, during a month that typically doesn’t see new hardware releases from Apple; our source stood firm on the target date."