Rumors say Apple could be working on a less expensive iPhone

Rumors say Apple could be working on a less expensive iPhone

It looks as if rumors are surfacing, once again, that Apple could be working on a cheaper iPhone that could hit the market as early as the end of this year. According to sources familiar with the matter, Apple has toyed with the idea in the past but ideas of producing an iPhone with a cheaper build are actually progressing this time.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, a cheaper iPhone variant could potentially have a cheaper polycarbonate body and recycled or refurbished iPhone parts, therefore lowering the entry cost.

The cheaper phone could resemble the standard iPhone, with a different, less-expensive body, one of the people said. One possibility Apple has considered is lowering the cost of the device by using a different shell made of polycarbonate plastic; in contrast, the iPhone 5 currently has an aluminum housing. Many other parts could remain the same or be recycled from older iPhone models.

We did get a cheaper iPad variant in the form of the iPad mini this year but iPads are different. The entry level cost of an iPad was $500 for the most current model. The $329 entry price of the iPad mini allows Apple to gain more market share in tablets.

Where the iPhone is concerned, we'd take these rumors with a huge grain of salt. Mainly because there already is a cheaper model iPhone available. Two actually. They're called the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. They're great alternatives to the iPhone 5 for those that don't want to dish out the money.

While nothing is impossible, we don't think Apple would skimp on design or build quality when they already offer iPhones at price points that pretty much everyone can afford.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

Rumors say Apple could be working on a less expensive iPhone


But apple would never use plastic I mean it is so cheap according to the apple loyalists. Still don't understand why they don't just make the iPhone 4 that cheap model rather than having to set up new manufacturing and everything when they already have the 4

True but not everyone wants a 2 year old phone as a new device. There should be more variety with the iPhone…
I think it was inevitable that Apple would change their orthodox paradigm, the iPad mini preluded and embodied that. We could even see affordable Macs but that could be asking for, a bit too much.

I wouldn't be surprised to see this now. The introduction of the ipad mini, with processing guts that are basically 2 years old, seems to indicate that iOS isn't going anywhere soon that will need more processing power. Add to that the fact that screen prices are falling drastically.

Apple just doesn't *need* premium hardware to run their premium OS. Due to the decreased cost of production, I could see them releasing a lower priced phone while achieving the same margins. There will still be room for the high end, to play new games at full throttle etc., but that doesn't have to be the only option for them, especially as they will have to address lower cost but still premium android phones a al nexus 4.

Don't think the problem is a $200 phone. That's usually a one time thing, so while I welcome a cheaper made, current-model iPhone, you still gotta worry about $2400 cell phone bill, which is where the issue is at, IMO at least.

Too true man... Too true.

They need to make the monthly charges a bit less because $100+ a month is pretty ridiculous. My phone is the most expensive thing I pay for on a monthly basis (excluding rent of course).

#1 - When the article says "recycle" - in the very part quoted here even - it clearly means using the same *type* of parts from older phones (like the type of camera that came with a 3GS) as a cost-cutting measure, not actually using refurbished, previously owned components (as was extrapolated here).

#2 - The article also clearly states the many reasons why this is attractive to Apple - mainly because comparable devices are making headway in other countries where this "discount up front, pay us over two-year contract" deal we have here in the U.S. does it exist. That's why when the new iPhone is out, you can flip your old phone on eBay for enough to buy the newer version (you can easily get well over $200 for a used iPhone4, even the lower storage models, enough to cover an iPhone 5). It gets refurbished by the buyer and sold overseas for twice as much - because a new iPhone over there is not "subsidized" (again, all laid out in the article).

#3 - Just a little thought also shows why this is clearly also applicable to the U.S. market. Pre-paid used to be a dirty word that referred to phones for drug dealers and those who couldn't afford a "real" phone, but they are gaining traction as people question why they are beholden to contracts for hundreds a month when there are cheaper options and they aren't stuck. A friend of mine just got a great Android phone with $50/month unlimited EVERYTHING. If I wasn't "in-deep" with AT&T, I'd do that in a heartbeat now. However, very few people are using prepaid iPhones because of the initial cost - $600+? - so if a cheaper alternative were available, a whole new (and growing) market is going to Android for the prepaid customer who is looking for a smart phone.

3G ipod touch (like the nexus 4). Apple gets their non LTE, but still 4" cheap phone with lightning connector.

Bad iDea iPhone has always been a quality device for everyone to gape at that quality is what makes it desirable.