Since the beginning of this year, reports have been saying that Apple is working on a cheaper, ‘budget’ iPhone. In the last several months, we’ve seen part leaks and more info point towards Apple releasing the plastic-enclosed device this fall alongside the flagship iPhone 5S.
Apple has always dropped the price on the previous iPhone model by $100 when a new one comes out, but that business model hasn’t been able to help the company grow in emerging markets around the world. The budget iPhone is expected to cost around $300 unsubsidized, which would unlock a whole new market of potential customers.
There has never been two independent iPhone lineups at once, so introducing a totally separate model would be a big move for Apple. But what if the multi-colored, plastic iPhone everyone expects is just a retooled version of the current iPhone 5?
Micah Singleton of CE: The Magazine claims that “instead of adding another iPhone to its lineup, Apple has decided to refresh the soon-to-be mid-range iPhone 5 with a selection of colors and a reduced build cost, thanks to some well-placed plastic.” It’s important to note that CE: The Magazine doesn’t have a super consistent track record with Apple rumors, but the site did correctly report details about the third-gen iPad last year. Singleton has also said that Apple’s 2013 iPhone event (where we’ll see all of this announced) will be held on September 18th, which sounds totally plausible—but only time will tell.
The world’s biggest technology company has another trick up its sleeve. Making a slight shift from its one iPhone per year schedule, Apple will unveil two iPhones this year. According to our source, along with its customary brand new iPhone, Apple will refresh the iPhone 5, adding a colorful touch. The refreshed iPhone 5 and the new iPhone will be announced at a September 18 event, a date previously reported by CE: The Magazine.
For Apple, this approach is actually pretty smart. Singleton makes the case that updating the iPhone 5 with a plastic, colored exterior will help with part constraints for the iPhone 5S, which is expected to look just like the iPhone 5. So the iPhone 5 gets a plastic shell with different color options, and the more expensive parts continue to be put into the iPhone 5S. That also keeps Apple’s iPhone lineup at three models: iPhone 4S, the updated iPhone 5, and the iPhone 5S.
Singleton says that the retooled iPhone 5 will cost $99 with a two-year contract, which sticks to Apple’s existing model in the states.