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Rumor: Apple Could Have a Cheaper iPhone in the Works

The Apple iPhones, since its launch, have been at the high end of the smartphone price range. Anyone hoping for a break in price has been relegated to buying previous versions, but there’s a rumor going around that says that won’t be the case for much longer. Apple may be releasing a cheaper version of the iPhone concurrently with the flagship model, similar to how they recently launched the iPad mini as a more affordable alternative to the full-sized version. This is just a rumor, and considering it’s CES week, we’ll probably be seeing a lot more of those.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, and Bloomberg agrees this morning that Apple is in the process of releasing a cheaper, low-end iPhone made with a plastic or polycarbonate body instead of the current aluminum housing. The price is expected to be between $99 and $149. The lower cost will come from using less expensive parts, and possibly offering a smaller handset than the current iPhone 5. This could help Apple meet the demand for low-cost smartphones in emerging markets.

The business model Apple has been running with since the iPhone launch in 2007 is to offer one high-end phone, and to sell off the remaining stock of previous versions at a discount.  This would be a continued departure from the focused vision for Apple guided by the late Steve Jobs. Current CEO Tim Cook has already strayed from Jobs’ “one device to rule them all” mentality by offering the iPad mini concurrently with the full-sized iPad models.

If the rumor comes to fruition we could see a less expensive iPhone as early as the second half of this year, but considering that Apple has already sold 270 million iPhones worldwide, they’ll probably do just fine keeping things the way they are.

(via The Wall Street JournalBloomberg, image via brandon shigeta)

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