The iPhone 5c Could Have Been A Modified iPod Touch

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In the past, when anyone has talked about the possibility of a low-cost iPhone aimed at the budget market, most have assumed that Apple would essentially take the iPod touch — currently the cheapest iOS device, after subsidies, which saves on cost in a number of key regards like screen quality, speed, storage and more — and graft some cellular modems onto it. Yet when Apple unveiled the iPhone 5c, what they showed was a smartphone that was essentially an iPhone 5 in a plastic shell. In other words, a last-gen iPhone that was cheaper for Apple to make, but not necessarily to buy.

Yet according to new court documents coming out of the latest Apple vs. Samsung case, such a vision for the ‘cheap’ iPhone was not always meant to be. In fact, Steve Jobs himself believed that the budget iPhone should be based off of the iPod touch.

According to an email sent by Steve Jobs on October 24, 1010, Apple was considering introducing a ow-cost iPhone as far back as 2010. The device would be a “low-cost iPhone model based on iPod touch to replace [iPhone] 3GS,” which would have been the $99 (or less!) model to the top-of-the-line iPhone 4.

The email was the points-of-order for the annual Apple Top 100 meeting, in which Steve Jobs and his top 100 executives would gather together to discuss Apple’s stategy for the coming year. Other topics included the iPhone 4s, the iPhone 5, Siri, and the iPad 2 and iPad 3.

Would you have been more likely to buy a $0 iPhone based off of the iPod touch than a $99 iPhone 5c? Let us know in the comments.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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