Apple is readying a lower-cost, plastic version of the iPhone 5 for release later this year that will zero in on the huge China market, according to iLounge, a site dedicated to watching Apple’s activities.
Jeremy Horwitz, iLounge editor in chief, said “reliable sources” divulged key details of the device, including appearance and features.
The low-end iPhone has a four-inch screen like the iPhone 5, a bottom like the latest iPod touch, and a shape similar to the iPod Classic, he 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,” Horwitz said.
iLounge, based in Irvine, Calif., provides detailed information for consumers and tech industry observers about Apple products but is not owned by the company and does not sell Apple products.
“Beyond shifting from glass and metal to a substantially plastic chassis, the most significant change Apple will make is in the curves,” Horwitz wrote.
The new budget iPhone will have an 1136x640 screen, with the same sensor, camera and button arrangement as the iPhone 5, he said.
Other details from iLounge about the device: “A headphone port, Lightning port, bottom microphone, and speaker are in roughly the same positions as the iPhone 5’s, but with far fewer holes, similar to the new iPod touch’s bottom design. There’s one small hole for a second microphone, next to the headphone port, two screw holes alongside the centered Lightning port, and four holes for the speaker off to the bottom right.”
iLounge provided no details on the availability of such a device in markets outside of China, such as the United States.
The Telegraph quoted Horwitz as elaborating on his story: "One of our sources claims that Apple’s iPhone prices remain too high for most mainland Chinese customers — the iPhone 5 hardware alone starts at $849 there, versus the iPhone 4 at $500, in a country where the average annual salary is around $3,000 per person.
"The source has said that mainland Chinese iPhone 5 sales are already tapering off as a result of the pricing, which is higher than in Hong Kong. A budget iPhone model would help sales in populous but underdeveloped countries to grow."
Horwitz also told the Telegraph Apple will release an upgraded iPhone 5S, with an improved rear camera, perhaps in July. He says his sources claim a fifth generation iPad and a new iPad mini - with 'retina' display - will be released in October.
Last week, Apple announced record profits in its quarterly results but share prices fell amid analysts' disappointment over iPhone sales . Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, said iPhone 5 supply had been "very constrained for much of the quarter."
The company announced a record 47.8 million iPhones sold but Wall Street expected more. Business Insider reported a cheaper version of the device is seen as essential by some analysts, particularly if Apple is to make inroads into the growing Chinese market.
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