A report by the Financial Times could provide the clearest indication yet of Apple's intention to release its next-generation iPhone in the coming months, after the paper revealed that European network carriers have already started amassing stockpiles of the recently approved nano-SIM cards.

While the existence and specifications of the new handset has been the subject of continuous rumors over the past year, Apple has in typical fashion remained completely secretive about the matter.

The new nano-design was only approved at the beginning of June following a fierce battle between the Cupertino-based firm, Motorola, Nokia and RIM. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) actually had to postpone the vote in March because the meeting erupted into arguments after RIM openly accused Apple of attempting to unfairly sway the vote in its favor.

In the end, ETSI approved the new form factor format, better known as nano-SIM, at the re-scheduled vote in June. The final design measuring 12.3mm wide by 8.8mm tall and just 0.67mm thick was apparently agreed among all parties, but curiously, it had the same dimensions as the design Apple originally offered royalty-free.

According to sources speaking to the FT, operators have learnt the lesson after the last iPhone launch caught them off guard, resulting in shortages of the micro-SIMs they required to function. This time around, mobile carriers are building up large stocks ahead of the device's launch.

One of the sources also pointed out that the upcoming handset would be similar in size to the iPhone 4S, but slimmer and utilizing a full metal body. That said, Apple is very unlikely to break with tradition and divulge any specifications to the media ahead of launch – currently believed to be sometime in the next three months.

Apple did not respond to requests for further comment.