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At least three media outlets claim to have heard from unnamed sources that Apple is working on a cheaper version of the iPhone. The smartphone could be launched as early as this year.
Cage Chao and Steve Shen from DigiTimes got the rumors started when they wrote, "Apple will roll out a low-cost version of the iPhone for China and other emerging markets in the second half of 2013, according to supply-chain sources. Some sources claimed that they have seen the sample of the low-cost iPhone, which will come with a larger display, meeting the prevailing trend for the adoption of 5-inch displays for high-end models. They added that the low-priced iPhone will also have a brand new exterior design."
The Wall Street Journal's Jessica E. Lessin added credibility to the story, reporting, "Apple Inc. is working on a lower-end iPhone, according to people briefed on the matter, a big shift in corporate strategy as its supremacy in smartphones has slipped. While Apple has explored such a device for years, the plan is progressing and a less expensive version of its flagship device could launch later this year, one of the people said."
According to Bloomberg's BusinessWeek's Olga Kharif and Adam Satariano, "Apple, which had been working on a more affordable smartphone since at least February 2011, is weighing retail prices of $99 to $149 for a device that would debut in late 2013, at the earliest, according to the person, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private. Apple has spoken to at least one of the top U.S. wireless carriers about its plans, the person said yesterday. Executives at Apple have been particularly interested in building a lower-cost model with less-expensive components as a way to appeal to customers in emerging markets, another person has said."
Reuters observed, "The device could resemble the existing iPhone, but might use less expensive materials, such as a shell made of polycarbonate plastic, according to the report, which cited anonymous sources. Apple could decide not to move forward with the lower-end iPhone, the report noted."