Apple Planning To Save On Cheaper iPhone With Plastic Body [Rumor]

The iPhone 3GS plastic back is about to make a comeback.

Will the iPhone 3GS plastic back make a comeback?

Rumors of a cheaper, budget iPhone have been picking up steam in recent weeks. After the infamous Digitimes reported that Apple was gearing up to launch a low-cost iPhone later this year, mainstream publications like The Wall Street Journal chimed in with their own confirmations. Apple is “weighing retail prices of $99 to $149’ for the unannounced device, according to Bloomberg.

Now Digitimes is saying that Apple could use plastic instead of metal or glass to cut costs for this new “entry-level” iPhone.

Apple “may adopt plastic for its chassis instead of reinforced glass or unibody metal as in the company’s standard iPhone models, to save cost, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.” Interestingly, Digitimes also claims that the┬áiPhone chassis supplier will be based in the United States. Apple already manufactures parts of the iPhone stateside, including glass in Kentucky and processor chips in Texas.

Recent iPhone models have had glass exteriors, while the iPhone 5 sports a metallic chassis. It looks like Apple could possibly go with a hybrid approach for this upcoming model. “Other rumors are circulating that the entry-level iPhone will adopt a chassis mixed with plastic and metal, with the internal metal parts being able to be seen from outside through special design,” according to Digitimes, a Taiwanese site that, despite its mixed track record, has accurately predicted Apple’s plans in the past.

Components for the cheaper iPhone are currently going through validation in the supply chain for the second half of 2013, if Digitimes’s sources are to be believed. Everything from the report jives with what the Journal and other publications have also said.

To complicate things, Apple’s Phil Schiller was recently quoted as saying that Apple didn’t have plans to make a cheaper iPhone. The interview was conducted by a Chinese paper, and confusion over the wording caused several American outlets to retract the story.

  • agner9

    There goes the only reason why people use apple products.

  • otherryankubo

    I still don’t understand why Apple would need to do this.

  • HerbalEd

    I don’t understand why so many people think that a “cheaper” iPhone is a bad thing and somehow a sign of Apple lowing it’s standards and it’s impending failure. Apple has/had “cheaper” … i.e., different model …. Macs, MacBooks, & especially iPods … and now they have the iPad Mini. Why would a cheaper iPhone vs the regular iPhone be any different than the MacBook Pro vs. the MacBook, or the MacBook Air?

  • FriarNurgle

    Not going to happen.

  • AaronS1984

    There goes the only reason why people use apple products.

    If that’s the only reason people use apple products, then people are idiots. I use Apple products because they are easier to use than competing products, are better built, and show much more attention to detail.

    My 2 cents on how they could pull off a cheaper iPhone: Use the 3GS shell, 4S screen, iPad mini camera and A4 processor. Using economies of scale and the fact that they’re already in production costs should be very low(no new tooling,etc.) For overseas markets, where people often buy the phone outright(as opposed to the US where contracts are seen as more affordable, even though they’re not), this could be a value play, and be compared against low-end android handsets which often have lower res screens and slow processors.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a senior writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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