A new version of the high-end iPhone also is expected to be revealed today. The top-of-the-line model, expected to be dubbed the "5S," will be the first to be sold with Apple's revamped mobile software, iOS 7, already installed. The new system, which will automatically update apps installed on the device, can be downloaded on the iPhone 4 and later models, as well as on the tablets beginning with the iPad 2.
The redesigned software announced in June relies on simple graphical elements in neon and pastel colors. Gone is the effort to make the icons look like three-dimensional, embossed objects - a tactic known as "skeuomorphism" that was favored by Jobs. This will be the second iPhone model that Apple has released since Jobs' death in October 2011.
Besides running on iOS 7, the upgraded iPhone may include technology that enables its owner to unlock the device with a fingerprint instead of a four-digit code.
There is also speculation that the high-end iPhone will be sold in a golden color to supplement the product line's more prosaic choice of black or white.
"One of the big questions is whether Apple is going to push the envelope on the iPhone or do they feel they have pretty much gone as far as they can go on the smartphone side of things?" Gartner Inc. analyst Carolina Milanesi said.
If there is a gold iPhone, it would be the latest sign of Apple's intensifying focus on China - a market where hundreds of millions of Internet-connected devices are expected to eventually to be sold as the standard of living improves in the world's most populous country. The color gold is considered to be a sign of good fortune in China.
A less expensive iPhone would also help Apple boost sales in China and other less-developed countries where people don't have as much disposable income as in the U.S. and Europe.
In an unusual move, Apple has invited media to another event in Beijing that will be held a few hours after the gathering at its headquarters is scheduled to adjourn. The Beijing event has fed speculation that Apple has lined up a deal to sell its new iPhones through China Mobile, the country's largest wireless carrier. It is an alliance that Cook has been openly courting. The Wall Street Journal last week cited anonymous people who said Apple is preparing to ship iPhones to China Mobile.
Although Apple still touts its iPhone as the best of its breed, the device has been losing some of its panache among consumers.
In the three months ending in June, Apple sold 31 million iPhones worldwide compared to 187 million Android phones made by the likes of Samsung, HTC and LG Electronics, according to the research firm International Data Corp. That left the iPhone with 13 percent of the global market, down from 17 percent at the same time last year. Android phones held a 79 percent share, up from 69 percent last year, according to IDC.