A couple of weeks ago I went through some of what Apple might pursue if/when making a less expensive iPhone for emerging markets. The gist was, like the iPod mini/nano, Mac mini, and iPad mini, Apple would never build something cheap out of cheap parts, but would remove expensive, higher end elements to produce something that still had fantastic build quality, but wouldn't cost as much. Now iLounge's Jeremy Horowitz, who typically has excellent sources, has reported what he's hearing. Here are the bullet points:
- iPhone 5-style 1136x640 Retina display
- Plastic chassis (instead of glass and aluminum)
- iPod classic-like curves with flat port and control surfaces
- iPod touch 5-style button and bottom configuration
All of that certainly sounds plausible. The iPod touch 5 and iPad mini represent Apple's latest design language, and it doesn't hurt to keep the iPhone 5 -- and eventual iPhone 5s -- materially and visually distinct at the top end.
Right now Apple has free on-contract iPhones. If any of this pans out, they'll have inexpensive off-contract as well. That may matter a bit in North America, but it'll matter a lot in the rest of the developing world.
Still no solid word on the timing, though all of that might be contingent on certain carrier deals in certain very large markets.
Go read all the details: