Despite a torrent of rumors in recent months that have claimed Apple's fifth-generation iPhone will merely be a slightly updated iPhone 4, one industry analyst disagrees. Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee wrote in a research note this week that Apple's iPhone 5 could be a "bigger upgrade than we expected."

Recent speculation would have led you to believe that Apple's iPhone 5 will look exactly the same as its iPhone 4, but will feature the company's latest A5 processor — introduced in March with the iPad 2 — and possibly a dual-LED camera flash, but not a great deal else.

However, Wu believes that unless Apple introduces LTE technology to its smartphone, it will need to issue a significant update later this year in order to maintain the iPhone's high demand:

"Well, it turns out that we are picking up that this interim iPhone refresh in the Fall timeframe could be a bigger upgrade than we expected. We believe this keeps the iPhone fresh and competitive and helps maintain its leadership position."

Wu's sources in Apple's supply chain seem to agree with the few rumors we have heard about an all-new iPhone 5 — claiming the device will sport a larger 3.5-inch display, Apple's A5 processor, and a thinner bezel than that of the current device. However, it won't feature 4G LTE just yet: Wu says the new technology will affect the iPhone's battery life and network coverage and that these problems need to be ironed out by Apple before we see an iPhone compatible with LTE networks.

"We believe this keeps the iPhone fresh and competitive and helps maintain its leadership position."

Although he mentioned the device would sport a thinner bezel, Wu says the iPhone 5 will still maintain the same form factor as the iPhone 4. However, recent speculation and case leaks would suggest the device will instead boast a thinner but wider body, and tapered edges similar to those on the iPhone 3GS.

As much as I love my iPhone 4, I'd like a bigger screen, a better camera, and a rear panel that's less prone to scratches and scuffs than the glass on the iPhone 4 — and so I'm certainly hoping for an all-new iPhone 5. What do you want to see from the Cupertino company this fall?

[via AppleInsider]