Everyone's jockeying for position ahead -- and beyond -- tonight's quarterly report, but life goes on at Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL).

The past few weeks have been rich with chatter of iPhone 5 delays. After checking with component suppliers, some reports indicated that Apple's next smartphone won't be in production until September -- a move that would push the iPhone 5's release into the holiday quarter if not early next year.

The freshest Reuters report offers more encouraging news, though you may want to give up your spot in line in front of your local Apple store.

Unlike the annual iPhone updates that have historically taken place in June or July, sources are telling Reuters that the Cupertino giant's next smartphone will go into production by mid-summer and begin shipping out in September.

In other words, the iPhone 5 will be late but not as late as some initially feared.

For a company that loves to refresh its product line annually, something has to be amiss if this may be the first fiscal year without a new smartphone (if the iPhone 5 release slips into October). Right?

Well, not exactly.

Most reports indicate that the tweaks will be minor with the iPhone 5. Beyond a less problematic antenna design, a Concord Securities report this week states that Apple's new smartphone will come with a slightly better camera, switch to Qualcomm's (Nasdaq: QCOM) baseband, and upgrade to the A5 chip that powers the iPad 2.

Japanese tsunami disruptions aside, opting for an evolutionary upgrade instead of a revolutionary bar-raising makeover doesn't seem to warrant a delay. One possible explanation is that the move will give AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) time to upgrade their network speeds, but that's a bit jingoistic. The iPhone is now a global phenomenon. A three-month setback gives handset makers championing Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android that much more time to stuff the channels with their shiniest gadgetry.

Things are getting interesting, but that always seems to be the case in the booming smartphone space.

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