Apple might finally sell a cheap iPhone—at least in India

The iPhone 4 could make a comeback in India.
The iPhone 4 could make a comeback in India.
Image: AP Photo/Manish Swarup
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Apple is planning to sell the iPhone 4—an older, discontinued version of its flagship smartphone—for around RS 15,000 (about $250) in India, according to a report by the Times of India, citing four unnamed Indian firms that work with Apple. The price, among the cheapest in the world for an unsubsidized iPhone, suggests that after losing market share in developing markets like India and China, Apple may finally be embracing the need for a new strategy.

The 8GB version of the iPhone 4 will reportedly go on sale at a 43% discount to the phone’s last retail price of about RS 26,500, when taking into account buyback and monthly installment payment schemes. Currently Apple sells the new iPhone 5S, 5c, and 4S in India. The company hasn’t responded to questions about the report, which suggested that Apple would probably start by selling unused inventory of the iPhone 4 rather than restarting manufacturing.

Out of fear of losing cachet, Apple has resisted lowering the price of its smartphones even in countries where few customers can afford to pay upwards of $700 for a new iPhone. However, as we’ve reported, India—the world’s second largest mobile phone market and one of several emerging markets where rivals offering cheaper phones outpace Apple—has proven an exception to the rule.

In India, Apple has acted more like a smartphone upstart than global giant. It was the first smartphone retailer to introduce buyback schemes and last year began allowing customers to pay in installments. Apple has also proven willing to relent on prices here. Last year, while other smartphone makers raised prices to account for a weakening rupee, Apple kept its phone and tablet prices steady. But it hasn’t seen much success: its Indian smartphone market share was only 1.4% in October 2013, compared to Samsung’s 42%.