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Latest iPhone 5 rumors point to 4G LTE support, Oct. 7 release

The next iPhone is so close, we can almost smell it. Apple’s much-anticipated fifth-generation handset is leaving a trail in the form of two new rumors that give us a bit more clarity about what we should expect in upcoming weeks.

First up is a bit of a shocker: Engadget has received a leaked photo from an anonymous tipster, which shows a 4G LTE kit installed in a “major” Apple retail store. The equipment, which is said to have been installed by AT&T, supports the 700MHz and AWS wireless radio bands — the same bands AT&T plans to use for its network, if its acquisition of T-Mobile receives a thumbs-up from government regulators.

The leaked photo (which has since been removed “at the request of the tipster,” says Engadget) follows Tuesday’s report that Apple and its carriers are testing a 4G LTE enabled version of the iPhone — though there is no evidence that the version they are testing with be the iPhone 5.

In short, there are plenty of reasons to believe that Apple is testing the 4G waters — of course they are — but nothing concrete to show that the next iPhone will have that capability. We are still skeptical that Apple will place too much weight on a wireless infrastructure that is still very much under development, but anything’s possible.

The next interesting bit of iPhone 5 speculation is that Apple plans to release the iPhone 5 on October 7, with pre-orders for the device starting on September 30. The Oct. 7 date is contingent upon production of the next-gen iPhone continuing along at its current pace. If production slows, release could be pushed back a week, to Oct. 14. Either way, these dates line up with the September-October timeline we’ve been hearing for ages.

As always, this is all still in the rumor stage, as Apple has not confirmed a single bit of this (or any other iPhone 5 speculation). But the rumor mill is quickly ramping into overdrive, and that usually means we’ll have something real to chew on within the next couple of weeks.