The iPhone. For many it’s the hottest bit of tech you can own, a fashion statement and powerful travel companion all in one – but for others it’s an overly expensive solution to a problem which is solved equally well by cheaper Android and Windows Phone devices.
But perhaps not for much longer. Alongside the talk of an inevitable iPhone 5S and iPhone 6, we’ve noticed a rash of slightly more eyebrow-raising news suggesting a cheap iPhone could be on the way.
Word of a budget iPhone has been doing the rounds for the past few years, but the reports have intensified post-iPhone 5.
Apple itself has been hit-and-miss when it comes to talking about a cheaper iPhone, with Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller saying in January that the firm’s focus will never be on low cost handsets, while CEO Tim Cook said "we are making moves to make things more affordable" in February – so make of that what you will.
We’ve perused all the leaks, claims, suggestions and "upstream supply chain" comments to bring you the latest vibe on the cheap iPhone and whether we will see one or not.
It’s a (release) date!
Apple has stayed true to form and hasn’t given any details away regarding its next smartphone(s), but we’re expecting the next iPhone instalment to arrive in September, and thus this seems the mostly likely time for the budget iPhone to stride onto the scene.
Some sources have suggested the next fleet of iPhones could be with us sooner – around July/August time, which could mean we’re in for a treat when WWDC (Apple’s annual conference) rolls around in June.
How low can you go?
Price is the single biggest factor when it comes to a budget iPhone, but it’s one part of the puzzle which has not seen much in the way of leaks.
A cheap iPhone needs to be able to challenge the cost effective Android and Windows Phone handsets which are currently populating the bottom end of the market, so really we’d like to see it rock up somewhere in the region of £200/$310/AU$300).
The only thing we’ve seen regarding the price of a cheaper iPhone is a rumour suggesting Apple is targeting the $330 (around £210/AU$310) price point – which would be nice.
No Retina for your retinas
There is some confusion over the screen size of the cheaper iPhone, with some reports suggesting it will pack a 4.5-inch display, while others point towards a smaller 4-inch offering – similar to the one found on the fifth generation iPods and iPhone 5.
If Apple are really looking at a more affordable iPhone we’d be surprised if it turns up sporting a screen which is bigger than the iPhone 5, and we reckon 4 inches or below is far more likely.
Don’t go expecting the budget iPhone to pack the beautiful retina display of its brothers though, with the low-cost handset far more likely to land a lower resolution – possibly 1,136 x 640.
We’ve become accustomed to the iPhone’s premium design, with high quality materials oozing style and class, but things could well get a lot more plastic with a cheaper iPhone.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is looking to clad the budget iPhone in polycarbonate, instead of aluminium and toughened glass, in an attempt to keep the cost down.
These musings have be reinforced by Digitimes’ famous "upstream supply chain sources", who also revealed the cheaper iPhone would rock up with a plastic body.
Apparently the budget iPhone won’t just be a jazzed up iPhone 3GS, nor will it be a scaled down iPhone 5, with iLounge claiming the cheaper iPhone will be an absurd mash-up of the latest iPhone and iPod, plus the original iPod classic – retro!
Stop, colour time
What’s this, an iPhone which doesn’t just come in black and white? Well yes, that may become reality with a cheaper iPhone on the cards.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (who actually has a decent track record) reckons the budget iPhone will be available in a range of colours, with apparently between four and six choices.
This was followed by sources who spoke to Macotakara, claiming the cheap iPhone will be available in five colours – which could see it sport the same blue, red and yellow which accompany the black and white on the current range of iPods.
View more at TechRadar: All latest Mobile phones news feeds