Citing two people with knowledge of the matter, the global news agency said it's heard that Apple's Asian suppliers have begun building "a lower-priced version of its hot-selling iPhone 4 with a smaller 8 gigabyte flash drive" that's "expected to launch within weeks."
It quoted an industry analyst who believes Apple may target the device, which will offer less storage than the 16GB and 32GB iPhone 4's that launched a little over a year ago, at boosting sales in emerging markets, where customers may be looking to trade in their high-end traditional cell phones for low- to mid-end smartphones, which typically cost $150-200.
In addition, Reuters said Apple is also targeting an end-September launch for the next-generation iPhone 5, which some of its sources have been calling "the iPhone 4S because of its largely identical appearance to the existing iPhone 4."
However, the handset will have a bigger touch screen, better antenna and an 8-megapixel camera, according to one of the people familiar with the matter.
Manufacturers Hon Hai and Pegatron have reportedly been asked to produce as many as 45 million units of the new fifth-generation iPhone for the remainder of the year, which would represent more than double the 20.34 million iPhones Apple sold during its second calendar quarter of 2011.