Apple is working on a lower-end iPhone that could have a cheaper, polycarbonate case, reports the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources. Many of the parts in this phone could be the same as in current iPhone models, or might be recycled from older models. No information about the price of this new model is available yet.
Update: The new iPhone will be between $100 and $150 and is targeted at emerging markets, reports Bloomberg news. The device will debut in “late 2013, at the earliest.” Apple has also spoken to at least one top US wireless carrier about the device. As Bloomberg notes, Apple CEO Tim Cook has said China, where Apple sold $5.7 billion worth of goods in 2012, is a priority for the company.
If true, this represents a significant departure from Apple’s iPhone strategy to date, but it’s not out of step with Apple’s history of offering a range of devices in other categories, such as iPods and notebook computers. Currently, Apple continues to offer older iPhone models at a discounted price even after it releases new models. This move is probably a response to pressure from the increasingly diverse ecosystem of Android handsets manufactured by an array of companies, all of which run the open-source operating system built by Google.
Another reason for Apple’s effort to create a cheaper iPhone could be that, as carriers in the US and elsewhere move away from locking users into two year plans that come with a subsidy for phones, more consumers will want to pay full price for their iPhone. Already, T-Mobile is offering unlocked iPhones starting at around $500.