According to a report by Chinese paper DigiTimes, Apple might be looking to roll out a low-cost iPhone in China and other emerging markets in the second half of 2013. The low-cost iPhone is said to have a larger display, continuing the trend of larger 5-inch displays on a few high-end smartphones, and possibly a brand new look. A report by The Wall Street Journal reinforces the low-end iPhone rumor, stating that the company had been experimenting with cheaper phones since at least 2009 that had less expensive parts. To reduce costs, a possibility would be to use a polycarbonate plastic shell instead of an aluminum housing, while reusing parts designed for older iPhones.
A cheaper phone could help boost Apple’s market share as a multitude of low-cost devices powered by Google’s Android have quickly overtaken the iPhone. Though this would be a bold move for Apple who under the helm of Steve Jobs, has historically avoided the low-cost segment. Apple might be moving in a different direction under Apple CEO Tim Cook who views China as an important region, considering the popularity of its iPad Mini in the country.
Rumors of an iPhone 5S have also been surfacing recently with sightings of new Apple hardware by app developers. The iPhone 5S is rumored to have a mid-year release, less than a year from when the iPhone 5 was released so the possibility of a cheaper iPhone is quite high. Still, Apple executives could decide to shut it down in favor of their more traditional product cycle.