Apple has reportedly dispatched prototype iPhone 5 units to various mobile operators that are soon to carry the smartphone. Tests include signal reception and connectivity tests, according to one source. Aggregating a number of reports that mention the aforementioned ongoing activities, the IB Times seems to confirm that pretty much every major provider of cellular services in the world will be carrying Apple’s elusive new smartphone. These rigorous tests that are being carried out have been ongoing since July 6 at longtime Apple partner AT&T, while others (like Verizon and T-Mobile) are also actively testing the device, but it isn’t known for how long. Sprint may finally get a taste of the iPhone as well, the report notes. It is specifically noted in the report that beta testers have been given a “pre-release” version of the fifth-generation iPhone. Tests include signal reception and connectivity, the paper claims, but surely there’s much more going on with those prototype units. According to the rumor, Apple will immediately ask its manufacturing partners to kick off mass production of the handset once operators green-light the device as suitable for their networks. Opinions regarding a potential iPhone 5 launch this year are divided. Some analysts think the phone will land this fall during a special event that may also see the introduction of the iPad 3. Others maintain that we will only witness the introduction of an incremental iPhone 4S, and that it is too early to throw in a third iPad (which would make it the second overhaul this year). For what it’s worth, a recent Chinese report says the A5 chip that’s allegedly presents in Apple’s next-gen iPhone heats up pretty badly. According to that report, Apple has been forced to push the launch of the iPhone 5 from summer 2011 to fall 2011, which should corroborate analyst beliefs that the new handset is only a few months away from its public debut.