Apple and Motorola will launch a mobile phone with iTunes software to play and store digital music next week, according to a mountain of press speculation.

The companies are likely to announce the long-expected device on 7 September. Apple has said it would make a major product announcement at an event in San Francisco that day. Representatives of Apple, Motorola and network-provider Cingular all declined to comment.

The phone is expected to have a storage capacity similar to the iPod Shuffle - 1GB of Flash - and use an online music service co-branded by both Apple and Cingular. That service should offer all the music available today on Apple's iTunes Music Store.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that users will be able to download songs onto the phone from the iTunes music collections on their PCs. It is not clear though whether they will be able to download songs over the mobile phone network.

The WSJ also reported Tuesday that Apple may introduce a new line of single-purpose portable music players to replace the iPod Mini. They would have flash memory and be slimmer than the iPod Mini, the paper said.

Motorola announced last year that it would develop an iTunes phone with Apple. Next week we should find out the full details and get away from mindless speculation.