Rumor Mill: Apple to make cheaper iPhone that will look like a plastic iPhone 5

Analysts have been calling for cheaper iPhone to spur growth
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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is working on a cheaper version of its popular iPhone that will be largely made from plastic and will look a lot like a mix of Apple devices, according to the blog iLounge.

The blog, citing unnamed "reliable sources," said that the device "will be made substantially from plastic" and will have the iPhone 5's Retina display and Lightning dock connector. The blog also said it will have a 4-inch screen like the iPhone 5 but will also sport a "bottom like the latest iPod touch, and a shape that's most similar to the iPod classic." In addition to the plastic casing, a departure from glass and aluminum Apple has used in recent iPhone models, the cheaper iPhone will be more curved in shape.

"In summary, the budget iPhone will look a lot like an iPhone 5 from the front, an iPod classic from the side, and an iPod touch 5G on the bottom--only made from plastic rather than glass or metal," the blog said. "It won't make any bold departures from past Apple designs, but then, it's supposed to be an inexpensive iPhone, and achieves that goal pretty much as expected."

Analysts have been indicating for months that Apple should develop a cheaper iPhone to help it penetrate more markets and increase its global smartphone market share. They point out that there are many emerging markets where carriers do not subsidize phones and that Apple's high-end products cost too much for consumers there.

Such concerns have taken on added heft recently in the financial analyst community, amid a sharp decline in Apple's share price. Apple reported selling a record 47.8 million iPhones in its fiscal 2013 first quarter, compared with 37 million in the year-ago quarter. While still impressive considering Apple sells only three smartphone models--the iPhone 5, 4S and 4--the figures were less than what Wall Street analysts had expected for the year-end quarter.  

Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked directly about the price points of the iPhone during the company's earnings conference call earlier this month. He did not directly address the question, saying Apple is focused on making "the best products in the world that enrich customer's lives." He argued that Apple managed to hit a range of price points, both low and high, with its line of iPods.

Cook added that Apple is not "interested revenue for revenue sake; we could put the Apple brand in lot of things and sell lot more stuff but that's not what we're here for."

For more:
- see this iLounge post
- see this CNET article

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