WSJ: Apple To Introduce Cheaper iPhone Later This Year [Report]

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This morning we told you about the Digitimes report that said Apple is planning to release a low-cost iPhone for emerging markets later this year. Now The Wall Street Journal is corroborating by saying “the device could come as soon as late 2013.”

Apple Inc. is working on a lower-end iPhone, according to people briefed on the matter, a big shift in strategy as its supremacy in smartphones has slipped.

While Apple has explored such a device for years, the plan has been progressing and a less expensive version of the flagship device could launch as soon as later this year, one of the people said.

Expect this cheaper iPhone to sport “a different, less-expensive body.” Instead of a metallic exterior, Apple will most likely use a polycarbonate plastic casing to keep costs down.

Digitimes has also said that this cheaper iPhone will feature a larger display and different exterior design. Coincidentally, iLounge Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz also tweeted about an upcoming “budget iPhone model” today. A lowered price tag would presumably help Apple’s growth in areas like China, where iPhones usually cost more for customers to purchase up front.

In the United States, Apple sells the iPhone 4 for $0 with a two-year carrier contract. The 4S is currently offered for $100 less than the top-of-the-line model, the iPhone 5. The cheaper iPhone reported by the Journal would be a distinct offshoot of the current iPhone family. Apple would be breaking the formula it has stuck to since 2007.

Rumors of a cheaper, “budget” iPhone have been swirling for years. Such a device has been on the table since as early as 2009, according to today’s report. With new management, a stronger supply chain, pressure from competitors, and unprecedented international growth, it looks like 2013 could very well be the year Apple decides to diversify its iPhone lineup.

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  • Shane Bryson

    Not a chance.

  • MrSarcy

    I’m pretty sure there will be no low-budget iPhone. Apple doesn’t do low-budget, especially not to compete with pondscum like Samsung and Nokia. If we see a lower price, it will be for the iPhone 5s/6 or we will see older models (4) being ‘dumped’ in markets that can’t afford flagship prices, like China. Then again, there is the completely senseless iPad mini. And we don’t have Steve around to yell at Apple brass.

  • rogifan

    I’m pretty sure there will be no low-budget iPhone. Apple doesn’t do low-budget, especially not to compete with pondscum like Samsung and Nokia. If we see a lower price, it will be for the iPhone 5s/6 or we will see older models (4) being ‘dumped’ in markets that can’t afford flagship prices, like China. Then again, there is the completely senseless iPad mini. And we don’t have Steve around to yell at Apple brass.

    What’s your problem with the iPad mini?

  • mauricedusault
    we will see older models (4) being ‘dumped’ in markets that can’t afford flagship prices, like China.

    Markets that can’t afford flagship prices like China? Chinese people CAN afford it, sir. In fact, China sold 2 million iPhone 5s in the first weekend alone. Here in China, I see iPhone 5s everywhere. Please don’t make irrational assumptions.

  • Steven Quan

    People the U.S. can’t even afford to pay for iP5 up front, what makes you think the Chinese can afford it? The cheapest iP5 at 16GB of memory starts at $649 and goes up to $849 for the 64GB model. Those are U.S. prices, I believe prices in China are higher and no their carriers do not subsidize like they do here in the U.S. so Chinese people are paying $649 (+ more) or they aren’t getting any phone.

  • branjmb

    every year….

  • HerbalEd

    People the U.S. can’t even afford to pay for iP5 up front, what makes you think the Chinese can afford it? The cheapest iP5 at 16GB of memory starts at $649 and goes up to $849 for the 64GB model. Those are U.S. prices, I believe prices in China are higher and no their carriers do not subsidize like they do here in the U.S. so Chinese people are paying $649 (+ more) or they aren’t getting any phone.

    Did you not read the article?? The new “CHEAPER” iPhone would be cheaper and thus more appealing to poorer Chinese and other developing country citizens.

    Meanwhile the iPad Mini is selling really, really well in China, because the emerging middle class can afford it.

  • grmphf

    Apples sale of low priced iPhone 4 and 4S will need to be terminated soon
    Apple need all products to use new lightning interface
    So the introduction of a new (lightning based) low priced iPhone will happen
    (same applies to iPad 2 and 3 – btw)

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for over two years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by places like the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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