Friday, June 14, 2013

Lower-cost iPhone rumored to sell for $99; phablet-style iPhones coming in 2014

Rehashing, somewhat, the rumor about a lower-cost iPhone, Reuters on Thursday floated a number of details about possible upcoming iPhones, including not just a low-cost -- not lower-cost iPhone -- but iPhones in a variety of colors and with large screens reminiscent of the latest Android phones.

Apple is expected to launch two iPhone models this year, its typical top-of-the-line iPhone, dubbed the iPhone 5S so far, and a cheaper iPhone. The cheaper version will ship in a plastic casing, according to rumors. Reportedly, Apple will follow the example of OEMs such as Nokia and plans to release the lower-cost phone in a range of five to six colors; the iPhone has traditionally come in only black and white.

A cheaper iPhone has been rumored for months, as a way for Apple to break into emerging markets. However, there was some disappointment over the pricing of the iPad mini, and thus expectations of a low price for a cheaper iPhone were tempered. Since the device is to be sold unsubsidized by carriers (and off-contract), the latest reports placed the price at around $300.

While not cheap, by any means, for an unsubsidized and off-contract phone, that is a relatively low price.

Reuters' report, though, says that Apple has discussed a price of $99 for the cheaper phone. It added, as well, that the low-cost iPhone's ship date could slip into next year. It is also unclear if the final price will remain $99.

Trial production of the cheaper device was originally slated to begin in June. However, one source said that the devices have been delayed as the mixing of colors has taken longer than expected. The reason given was one that Foxconn has (sometimes) complained about: Apple's very high and "idealistic" standards. However, Apple may sell a huge number, once they ship: a source said that 20 million "cheap" iPhones are projected to ship in the October-December quarter.

In addition, and possibly caving in to many consumers who want larger-screened devices, the report said that Apple could introduce two larger iPhones -- but not until 2014. Those phones, one with a 4.7-inch screen and one with a 5.7-inch screen, mirror some of the latest Android devices. Samsung's Galaxy S III (2012) shipped with a 4.8-inch screen; this year's Galaxy S4 shipped with a 5.0-inch screen.

Meanwhile, Samsung's Galaxy Note II has a 5.5-inch screen, and in April, Samsung announced the Galaxy Mega which will come in 5.8- and 6.5-inch sizes.

The 5.7-inch iPhone model, if it were to ship, would actually fit into the phablet category, meaning somewhat between a phone and a tablet.

Suppliers have reportedly been approached about the larger screens. It is, however, unclear if the larger-screened devices will be for Apple's flagship device or a variant. It's also true that the devices could be shelved, and not even ship, at all.



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