We’ve heard an unusual amount of chatter regarding the next generation iPhone over the past few months. Especially since the iPhone 5 just launched 6 months ago. But folks seem pretty certain that Apple’s next smartphone isn’t too far off.

And a new report out this morning echoes that sentiment. Citing “people familiar with the device’s production,”¬†The Wall Street Journal claims that Apple is ramping up production of its new iPhone this quarter ahead of a likely summer launch…

“Apple¬†Inc.¬†AAPL¬†+0.27%¬†plans to begin production of a new iPhone similar in size and shape to its current one in the second quarter of the year, according to people familiar with the device’s production, teeing up a possible summer launch for the next version of its flagship device.”

The Journal’s report jibes well with other timeframes we’ve been hearing. Last week, the oft-accurate Macotakara reported that the new iPhone would launch in June. And both DigiTimes and¬†KGI Securities‚Äô Ming-Chi Kuo¬†corroborate¬†the date.

Apple’s next handset is expected to be the iPhone 5S. Word is that it will look similar to its predecessor but feature a faster processor, improved camera system, and possibly a fingerprint scanner. It’s also believed that a budget model is coming.

The WSJ has something to say about that as well:

“At the same time, Apple continues to work with its manufacturing partners in Asia on a less expensive iPhone that could be launched as soon as the second half of this year, these people said. The 4-inch device will likely use a different casing from the higher-end iPhone. Apple has been working on different color shells for the phone but its plans remain unclear.”

The budget iPhone is rumored to be made of a metal and plastic mix, and come with a full retail price tag less than $300. Such a product is uncharacteristic for Apple, but it will help it make inroads into larger, difficult markets like India and China.