iphone_5_box_header

Next week, Apple is expected to break its year-long product silence by unveiling not one, but two new iPhones. This will be the first time that the company has introduced two handsets simultaneously, leaving many wondering what it’ll do with its legacy smartphones.

Pundits seem fairly split on the topic, but the recent consensus seems to be that the iPhone 5C will replace both the iPhone 4 and 4S, as well as the iPhone 5—leaving Apple with just two phones in its lineup. A new report, however, suggests the 5 may be sticking around…

MacRumors points to a report from German site Flo’s Weblog, which features an internal email from Vodafone Germany. The note discusses the discontinuation of 32GB and 64GB iPhone 5 models, in both black and white, as well as black/white 16GB iPhone 4S models.

Here’s a screenshot of the email:

vodafone

A rough Google Translation tells us that the message above says something to the effect of “The news of the day: Discontinued Hardware. The following items are no longer available and contract acquisition disabled,” and then it goes on to list the various iPhone models.

Additionally, the site has also posted a screenshot of what appears to be an internal Vodafone inventory page, which shows the availability status of iPhones. Note that while the 16GB iPhone remains “available for shipping,” the 32GB and 64GB models read “not available.”

vodafone 2

Today’s report follows a similar story regarding Telus. The Canadian carrier is also set to discontinue higher capacity iPhone 5 models at the end of this month, but there was no mention in that article about the future availability of the 16GB version, raising further questions.

So is Apple going to discontinue the iPhone 5 to focus on the 5S and 5C? Or is it going to keep a 16GB 5 around like year’s past? Analysts seem to be split here too: KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo says the 5C will replace the iPhone 5 line, but Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster begs to differ.

iPhone 5S vs 5C casing video

According to Munster, the iPhone 5C would replace the iPhone 4S as the entry-level handset, leaving the 16GB iPhone 5 as the intermediate option and the new iPhone 5S as the flagship. And he thinks subsidized pricing would look like it does now: $0, $99, $199 with contract.

I’d have to agree with Gene here. This strategy would give Apple a solid lineup of 3 smartphones with Lightning ports and 4-inch displays. Your guess is as good as mine though. At least we won’t have to wait long to find out—Apple’s iPhone event kicks off Tuesday at 10am PST.

Place your bets, will Apple keep the iPhone 5 around after the 5S/5C launch?