After several reports pointing to a lower-end iPhone set to be released this fall, a new source is now suggesting that along with the iPhone 5 we’ll see a “simplified iPhone 4”, as reported by the Chinese language website Sohu.com.
According to the report, Apple has reached an agreement with China Telecom, China’s state-owned mobile carrier, to bring two devices to the country: the iPhone 5 and a lower-end iPhone, allegedly similar to the iPhone 4, around “the end of October”. As claimed by the source, and as speculated by us many times, the lower-end iPhone model will be cheaper and most likely targeted at developing and emerging markets, such as China:
a more economical version of iPhone to target a broader customer base in developing countries such as China, allowing for an expanded market opportunity.
Apple’s current solution to make the iPhone available to a greater number of customers is to simply sell the previous-generation device for a lower price. While the iPhone 4 has been available for a year, Apple keeps manufacturing the nearly two-year-old iPhone 3GS and selling it for $99 instead of its original price of $199, but now the supply of the iPhone 3GS is dwindling drastically. This approach has its obvious shortcomings, including the device’s aging hardware that developers and Apple itself will be forced to support as long as the device is sold.
The lower-end iPhone will reportedly be similar to the iPhone 4, which has been for sale for over a year, although we don’t yet know much about its hardware or software. According to previous reports on the matter, however, we would guess that this low-end smartphone will be an iPhone 4 with improved internals and perhaps slightly cheaper plastic casing, as opposed to the iPhone 4’s glass enclosure, in order to reduce manufacturing costs, and therefore the price.
This report also, once again, sparks up the debate over whether the next iPhone will be released in September or October, since the source points to an October release, at least in China. I believe, as we have speculated previously, that the US release will take place sometime in September with an international release in October, since the iPhone 5 has allegedly reached final testing stages. The iPhone 5 is expected to be announced by Apple at the company’s traditional music and iPod event in September and released a few weeks later.