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 iPhone 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.