It’s almost here. Really, it is. Isn’t it? With the arrival of the eagerly anticipated iPhone 5 thought to be a short time away, the rumor mill isn’t just working overtime – it has canceled all paid leave and going without any sleep. There’s even a danger it could simply keel over at any moment.

The New York Times’ Nick Bilton is the latest person claiming to have had words with those in the know. In a report on Thursday, he wrote that we’re “just weeks away” from an announcement – that’s according to “an Apple employee who asked not to be named because he was not allowed to speak publicly for the company.” Not a massive revelation, agreed, but it could put the launch somewhere at the start of next month.

Bilton also reports “an engineer familiar with the new iPhone” as saying the next version of the device will be “fairly different” from its predecessor, inside and out.

The same person said it will come with an 8-megapixel camera (the iPhone’s current camera is 5-megapixels) and would be equipped with a faster A5 dual-core processor.

There’s also a chance, writes Bilton, that the iPhone 5, or possibly 6, will incorporate near-field communication technology, used for making mobile payments by passing the phone over an NFC reader. Apparently any such NFC functionality would be linked up to users’ iTunes accounts for organizing payments.

Bilton’s source also said that the images of an iPhone 5 case (below) on a site called Case-Mate (via BGR) “seemed potentially authentic.” The images were soon removed from Case-Mate’s website, though Apple Insider said they “depicted a next-generation iPhone with curved sides, a flat back, and a mute switch moved to the right side of the handset.”

According to a report yesterday, it’s also thought that the iPhone 5 will have a screen larger than the current 3.5-inch display.

We can imagine there are some Apple fans out there pulling their hair out while waiting for the new version of the phone to hit the market – the device usually gets a refresh within 12 months but it’s been more than a year since the iPhone 4 has received an update. On Wednesday it was reported that the iPhone 5 could turn out to be Apple’s most popular iPhone yet among consumers.