Apple Inc. is getting closer to launching its next iPhone, as it works to stay ahead of competition from smartphone rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co.

Apple has ordered key components for a new iPhone it is aiming to launch by the end of September, said people familiar with the situation.

These people said the new iPhone is expected to be similar to the current iPhone 4, but thinner and lighter with an improved eight-megapixel camera.

One person familiar with the matter said the new iPhone will operate on Qualcomm Inc.’s wireless chips. Apple’s current iPhone 4 uses chips from a former unit of German chip maker Infineon Technologies AG that is now owned by Intel Corp. in the model available to most operators. It uses Qualcomm chips for a version for U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless.

A spokeswoman at Apple declined to comment.

Anticipation for a new iPhone—Apple’s largest product by revenue—has been mounting after the Cupertino, Calif., company chose not to unveil its latest smartphone model at its annual developers’ conference in early June as it has done in the past.

Apple at the time said a new version of its mobile operating system would be available this fall. That fueled speculation the latest iPhone would also be introduced at the same time.

A person briefed on Apple’s product plans said the company initially planned to launch its next iPhone this summer as it usually does, but the device wasn’t ready in time.

Two people familiar with the situation cautioned the next iPhone could be delayed further if contract manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Co., which assembles the iPhone for Apple, couldn’t improve its production yield rate.

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