Apple releasing a cheaper, contract-free iPhone Nano this summer?

iPhone Nano Concept

Bloomberg is reporting that, according to unnamed sources, Apple is working on a smaller iPhone model (iPhone Nano, anyone?) to help close the pricing gap between lower end Android devices and Apple's flagship iPhone product. The move would let consumers pick up an iPhone Nano for around $200 non-subsidized and without a carrier contract:

One version would be cheaper and smaller than the most recent iPhone [...] Apple has considered selling the new iPhone for about $200, without obligating users to sign a two-year service contract.

We previously speculated that Apple would do well by releasing a smaller iPhone to help fend off the never-ending flow of cheap Android smartphones. Apple would be able to sell the device without a contract because the costs to build it would be very low compared to the current iPhone 4 or future iPhone 5. The sources told Bloomberg that Apple is aiming to unveil the device around mid-year, but that plans could still be scrapped depending on how things play out.

Another interesting tidbit was that Apple is working on a technology called Universal SIM which would let users jump from network to network without switching out their SIM card. The SIM would be compatible with both GSM and CDMA networks and would work well in a carrier-free iPhone Nano, giving more freedom of choice between networks for the user.

So how about it, would you be interested in picking up a contract-free iPhone Nano now that we know Apple is actually working on one? Let us know in the comments!

[Bloomberg]

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Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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Reader comments

Apple releasing a cheaper, contract-free iPhone Nano this summer?

47 Comments

Wouldn't a smaller screen break all pre-existing apps until developers build a UI variant to accomodate it? I would imagine you'd see an update to Xcode to indicate this change long before the release of the device. No offense to Bloomberg, but analysts don't know anything (they literally just make things up to manipulate stock prices) - I'd rather see evidence in the code to indicate something like this.

Technically it's possible to downsize the screen while maintaining a resolution of 480x320. I'm not specifically for the idea, but it's very much possible to do this without breaking app compatibility.

Yes, technically that's correct, but that would contradict Jobs' philosophy that fingers are a certain size, so buttons, icons, and so forth have to be a certain size, as well. It also really doesn't make sense. I suppose that if Apple were to release a smaller device they might want developers to build smaller, optimized variants. I guess we'll see...
It is possible they might announce it sooner than later and update Xcode to allow developers to start building variants to accomodate it. I'm still very skeptical though - these analysts speak from a "consumer trends" standpoint, but they don't have the slightest understanding of technical considerations or limitations.

Well, if you look at the picture above (I know it is just a speculation as to what it would look like) it has no app store. If they make a smaller iPhone I would imagine it wouldn't have an app store at all, it would seem to be appealing to people who just want to have a phone with none of the jibber jabber apps and whatnot.
That's just my speculation on this whole "iPhone Nano" thing.

It's just a mock up. Apple wouldn't be that dumb to not release an iOS device without an App Store (except Apple TV 2, but that's another deal...).
I honestly can't see it happening. Anyone complaining about the size of an iPhone (or any smartphone for that matter) needs to realize there's a lot of tech packed in there. Just get a feature phone and call it a day.

Couldn't they keep an update to Xcode internal only? Would end up leaking but closer to an announcement id imagine. I've not kept up but when iPad was in the works did Xcode up date out of the blue? Or before retina was announced?

Running with the "finger size" thoughts, one would think that the evolution would go towards not just a smaller iphone but also a bigger one. The smaller one could keep the pixel count of the current 3Gs. The display would become more Retina-ish and would fit people with smaller hands. The bigger could keep the pixel count of the 4. There is plenty of resolution to take from, to allow for a 4"+ screen. No broken apps and happy folks with smaller hands and poor eyesight.

what if there arent any apps that are supported on it? What if it comes the way it is out of the box and that's that?

I dont know what that would be like especially because probably the iphone 5 will be a world phone so it works both on cdma and gsm if they do release a cheaper iphone instead of being nano i think they should do an old 3g watered down version its no longer so expensive to build and it may bring the iphone experience to more regular people that just want to text and call

HAHAHA! Really? The iPhone Nano rumors are back?!?! I VERY highly doubt this, although I could be wrong. The new Nokia CEO has already said it, "Apple demonstrated that if designed well, consumers would buy a high-priced phone with a great experience and developers would build applications." (pulled from right here, at TiPb). Apple is still WAY out in front in profit share, there's no need for a cheap iPhone if the vast majority of people are willing to pay top dollar for GREAT quality.

Yes. Not only that, but Apple was already asked about this once before and said that they weren't interested in the low-end phone market.

useless waste of time not gonna come true rumor, Apple has always been about the High End. If they wanted to make a cheaper iphone i would say remove GPS and a few other things to save cost but then one of 2 things would happen 1) it's so crappy it embarrass apple or 2) it's good enough that people won't need an iPhone or an iPod touch and will opt for the cheaper model. Either scenario sounds terrible so this Rumor is (and always has and will be ) a huge FAIL !!!

I like it! It's small and people who want the iPhone experience that don't want the price tag or all the "power user" features (our grandmothers) can get this. My only concern would be the size of the keyboard. It can't be easy to type on at that size.

Well, HP is doing the same thing with the Veer and I really think those small smartphones could gather their own target audience.
On the other hand, maybe Apple just does something along the lines of keeping the 3GS one year longer than usual (normally with the release of iPhone 5, the iPhone 4 would become the new cheaper iPhone and the 3GS would not be sold anymore) and selling it even cheaper and without a contract. We'll see...

That's one of the things about HP's announcement that I just didn't understand (the Veer). Who would use such a small device, tweens? I suppose that's an ample market, but really?
It's a hard call. I can see Apple doing this to help grow sales from a more diverse product offering, but I just don't see a nano version of the iPhone being a huge hit like the iPhone is. If you look at Jon's comment above, it's clear that Apple has already solidified itself in the smartphone race as a high-end device maker, and they've been very successful in that respect. So why would they enter the low-end market too?
Does Apple need to do this? No, but I'm sure it wouldn't hurt sales or their bottom line either.

Have you seen the Pixi? The Veer is essentially the Pixi turned into a slider. Same screen size, same resolution, same keyboard size just "folded over" and made with thinner, faster components.

I really hope they don't do this. I want a bigger iPhone not a smaller one... why not just make an upgraded 3gs and sell it for cheap? Keep the same size screen just make it thinner and sleeker with less internal memory and sell it for $200 off contract.

We need a bigger screen phone like the evo, droid x etc. Who wants/needs a smaller phone? Bigger screen would benefit the app developers soooo much more because they can make better games with better controls which in the end would be better for us.

No. This is just absurd on so many levels. Keep up the fine journalism. BTW, I heard the next iPhone will have double the Retina resolution and be 3D.

The $200 price point doesn't make sense. With a contract you can get a regular iPhone. While the really smart ones of us play the numbers game to get the best deal, the average consumer is not going to see a $200 phone with fewer features and a smaller screen as a great deal, contract or no contract.
I think I'm going to push for an RSS Feed sans rumors because they are always ridiculous.

Yum, I love 100% bologna, no matter how many times it's served! For dessert, I'll have the 7 inch iPad pie in the sky

Yet another ridiculous rumor. TiPb should open a separate rumor section, to avoid polluting the website´s integrity.

From the looks of it, it appears to be an iPod Nano that can talk and text. No web, no data, no apps. High end feature phone that can play music and videos. I can see a market for that.

It's called an iPhone 3GS, with longer term iOS support. It'll fill all the prior needs. Just rename and recase it.

I agree we need an iPhone with a bigger screen. Would be a better experience. It is possible without making the phone larger. So much wasted space with the home button and ear speaker not on the edge of the phone's top and bottom. Smaller iPhone would and smaller screen would not be a good experience.

By the way, just to give credit where credit's due... that is one AWESEOME mockup, guys. Did tipb do it? Whoever's work it is, it's really nice.

It sounds like everybody is under the assumption that the new focal point of this new phone would be apps. But, what if it's not? I believe that this new form factor's draw may not even be apps at all, maybe it will be size. Imagine if you could have an "iPhone Nano" that could fit in a watch band. I'm not saying that I believe this speculation, but what I am saying is that everyone is saying that this would introduce fragmentation to iOS, but I don't necessarily believe that this phone would run Apps. It may only run the native apps that Apple pre-installs on it.

I doubt the screen would be smaller, but the design above, sans what is on screen, looks like a good "no physical buttons" design.

Developers are always looking for ways to get their apps reviewed. This great site has paid apps for free but only for a limited time. They usually revert back to paid apps within 24 hours so it’s best to check back twice a day.
The website is: http://www.appiology.com

It could start with no promise of apps but then even a few basic simple ones for developers who want to invest, could filter later through the app store maybe. It could be great for kids who have iPod money for a phone but not iPhone money.
So many kids have an iPod but then some Blackberry from a fee low cost contract or other cheap phone on sim free. This Nano phone would allow them to have it (almost) all.
I think it will happen.