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Rumor: Apple's low-cost iPhone to have 4" screen, mostly plastic body

post #1 of 71
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The rumored low-cost iPhone from Apple will feature a largely plastic body that will be noticeably thicker than the iPod touch, according to a new report.

iPhone
Budget iPhone mockup, via iLounge.


Purported details on Apple's anticipated "budget" iPhone were reported on Monday by Jeremy Horwitz of iLounge. Citing people apparently familiar with the design of the device, he said it will feature a 4-inch display like the iPhone 5, but will also borrow some design elements from the latest iPod touch, and even the company's legacy iPod classic.

The low-cost iPhone will reportedly be "just barely" larger than the iPhone 5, measuring a millimeter thicker. While it will look nearly identical to the iPhone 5 from the front, differences are said to be more noticeable on the side of the device.

"The circular volume buttons of the iPhone 4, 4S and 5 will shift to elongated, pill-shaped designs closer to the iPod touch and the iPhone 3G/3GS," Horwitz wrote. "Apple's budget housing looks closest to the iPod classic in shape, though not in materials."

The curves of the cheaper iPhone will reportedly "start and end at flat surfaces" like the iPod classic, rather than the curved back featured on the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS.

Like the new iPod touch, the screen on the low-cost iPhone will reportedly stick out slightly from the device. But unlike the fifth-generation iPod touch, the camera lens will not protrude from the back of the body.

"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," Horwitz wrote.

The same sit reported last week that Apple's less expensive plastic iPhone, geared toward emerging markets, will launch later this year. Reports first began to surface earlier this month indicating that Apple is planning to build a cheaper iPhone intended to target countries like China.

Market watchers have predicted that Apple could sell a cheaper iPhone for around $199 without a contract subsidy. At that price point, it's projected that Apple could attain gross margins around 30 percent.

Currently, Apple's cheapest smartphone option is the iPhone 4, which is available for $450 without a contract in the U.S. But the price on that same handset moves up to $490 in China and $750 in Brazil when local taxes are added.
post #2 of 71
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
"The circular volume buttons of the iPhone 4, 4S and 5 will shift to elongated, pill-shaped designs closer to the iPod touch and the iPhone 3G/3GS," Horwitz wrote. "Apple's budget housing looks closest to the iPod classic in shape, though not in materials."

The curves of the cheaper iPhone will reportedly "start and end at flat surfaces" like the iPod classic, rather than the curved back featured on the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS.

 

Sounds like this. Meaning sounds like prototypes.

 

I'm sick of the idea of Apple giving people what they whine about.

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #3 of 71
This sounds terrible! I hope it isn't true, if it is Mr Schiller lied! And again if true, are they bowing to pressure from the likes of China Mobile?
post #4 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1983 View Post

This sounds terrible! I hope it isn't true, if it is Mr Schiller lied! And again if true, are they bowing to pressure from the likes of China Mobile?

It all sounds very reasonable to me. It's not something I would want and I can see the need in countries where the base has less money and the tariffs are high. Yes, I think it makes sense to consider that a deal with China Mobile might require some changes at their behest. They already need to make changes to have a GSM '2G', TD-SCDMA '3G', and TD-LTE '4G' device; and I doubt TD-LTE would be included.

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post #5 of 71

*sigh*

 

 

 

 

 

 

(but a RUMOURED *sigh* . . . I might not have actually sighed at all.)

post #6 of 71
Curiously, when Value Added Tax is removed, the current unlocked iPhone 4 is actually cheaper in the UK than it is in the USA!

Anybody visiting the UK from the USA who needs to upgrade to an iPhone 4 and have an unlocked phone for roaming can hit two birds with one stone, just be sure to claim back the tax!

As for these plastic iPhone rumours, they make the presumption that the casing is a considerable part of the total cost of manufacture.

It's notable that the Apple TV is the only non-accessory device in Apple's entire current range with a plastic case.
post #7 of 71
Seems like common sense to develop a product with a price point that can reach a huge part of the market. Will people stop buying the more expensive phones? I suppose, but there are other benefits associated with exposing people to Apple products. People who buy 1 are more likely to buy a second.

Expanding the reach of iOS makes it more attractive to advertising revenue. Admittedly I dont know much about it, but as it reaches more people it would seem to follow that advertisers would pay more for space and time.

Then there are the secondary purchases of software to consider.

Anyone want to elaborate on the cons in relation to the positives of expanding the customer base?
post #8 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by GadgetCanada View Post

If the phone is in a case which 90% of phones are, what does it matter if the housing is plastic?

Is that an accurate figure? I don't use a case and it appears most tech pundits I follow don't use one either but that's a collection of people who tend to have more disposable income and refresh their products more frequently so it's certainly not a good measure of all users. Cases are certainly a big market, I just don't see too many of them.

PS: I was recently given a case as a gift (TARDIS case) which I tried to use. I even changed my lock screen image to be the inside and added sound effects for incoming calls and messages but I still only used it for about 2 weeks before i decided I prefer the device naked.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #9 of 71
I think even if Apple has another iPhone model in the works, it still won't be sold as a cheap phone. Apple will release it with next to full functionality but call it a different name so that it will sit nicely alongside the iPhone 5/5S/6. Just like when before the iPad Mini came out, people expected Apple to release a 7" device and priced to compete against cheap Android and Amazon tablets but Apple blew everyone away by pricing it higher than the competition yet still sell well.

Unless I'm totally wrong and Apple are doing this to feed different markets with the purpose of keeping everyone on the platform and vibrant ecosystem. After all a cheap phone still needs apps, music etc on the device.

Personally I care about handset design and I never put a cover over my phone. There are however millions of people out there that seal their phone in a case.. These people obviously care about the phone but perhaps not so much the design. They would probably buy a cheaper material phone providing functionality is the same. Also the same goes to outdoor/sports phone users.
post #10 of 71
Originally Posted by GadgetCanada View Post
If the phone is in a case which 90% of phones are…

 

Citation needed. 1tongue.gif

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #11 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by simtub View Post

I think even if Apple has another iPhone model in the works, it still won't be sold as a cheap phone. Apple will release it with next to full functionality but call it a different name so that it will sit nicely alongside the iPhone 5/5S/6. Just like when before the iPad Mini came out, people expected Apple to release a 7" device and priced to compete against cheap Android and Amazon tablets but Apple blew everyone away by pricing it higher than the competition yet still sell well.

Unless I'm totally wrong and Apple are doing this to feed different markets with the purpose of keeping everyone on the platform and vibrant ecosystem. After all a cheap phone still needs apps, music etc on the device.

Personally I care about handset design and I never put a cover over my phone. There are however millions of people out there that seal their phone in a case.. These people obviously care about the phone but perhaps not so much the design. They would probably buy a cheaper material phone providing functionality is the same. Also the same goes to outdoor/sports phone users.

 

interesting point.

post #12 of 71

I wonder if they will be carrier locked. Also will they be available in US, Europe, or just China, Latin America, etc?

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post #13 of 71
I'm still not convinced Apple would do something like this. Why not just start making the 3GS with a faster processor?
post #14 of 71
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post
I'm still not convinced Apple would do something like this. Why not just start making the 3GS with a faster processor?

 

That's what this is. Frankly both ideas are out of character.

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #15 of 71
Yet another B.S. rumor but, if true, it means Tim Cook and the upper management of Apple have lied through their teeth. We are always hearing that "We won't make or sell junk" and that "Customer experience is paramount with us."

This rumored abomination would break both of those statements and make liars out of the Apple brass.
post #16 of 71

Re: cases.

 

One of the interesting results of all the Apple lawsuits, is that they've had to reveal a lot of previously kept secret information.   For example:

 

Quote:
(The trial) also gave glimpses into (Apple's) strategy and customers, and each fact
 
-- like an internal survey showing that 78% of iPhone owners buy cases --
 
was quickly disseminated and discussed in tweets and blog posts by people tracking the high-stakes case.
 
- WSJ
post #17 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

I'm still not convinced Apple would do something like this. Why not just start making the 3GS with a faster processor?

3GS uses a 3.5" 480x320 TN display so even if you use a more modern ASIC you still have that working against you. If this rumour is true it's going to be a quality device that can reach markets previously noted. I would be surprised to see this sold in the US.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #18 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Citation needed. 1tongue.gif

You want citations. OK I'll give ya citations!!

http://www.digby.com/mobile-statistics/

 

Kidding with you TS. I doubt any of them had anything to do with what you wanted, but hey. . .1smile.gif

 

EDIT: I see KDarling found your citation.

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post #19 of 71
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post
…if true, it means Tim Cook and the upper management of Apple have lied through their teeth. We are always hearing that "We won't make or sell junk" and that "Customer experience is paramount with us."

 

Why? How are this and what they said mutually exclusive?

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #20 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Yet another B.S. rumor but, if true, it means Tim Cook and the upper management of Apple have lied through their teeth. We are always hearing that "We won't make or sell junk" and that "Customer experience is paramount with us."

This rumored abomination would break both of those statements and make liars out of the Apple brass.

Marketing is marketing. I'm personally convinced a less-expensive plastic-encased iPhone is gonna happen. There's as much smoke rising from this rumor as there was for the iPad Mini, so there's a fire going IMO. But that doesn't make Cook and the rest of Apple management liars.

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post #21 of 71

I believe they can make a cheaper phone with a premium feel. The last round of plastic MacBooks were really nice. Imagine a sharp-looking plastic case with the internals of the 4s for $199 no contract. I think people will feel happier with "the less expensive iphone" than "the old iphone"

post #22 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


3GS uses a 3.5" 480x320 TN display so even if you use a more modern ASIC you still have that working against you. If this rumour is true it's going to be a quality device that can reach markets previously noted. I would be surprised to see this sold in the US.

I can't imagine Apple trying to sell this only in developing markets. They've never done such a thing, and it would create a very unseemly grey market industry. The challenge is for them to find a product that appeals in developing markets, as well as in Europe and the US (i.e. for kids, or people who just want a decent phone ... those people do still exist), without taking too much from the flagship iPhone sales. 

 

One issue is how much memory they'll put in this thing. Maybe only an 8GB version?

post #23 of 71
Originally Posted by jakeb View Post
Imagine a sharp-looking plastic case with the internals of the 4s for $199 no contract. 

 

Locked to a carrier… carrier forces data anyway… 

 

I just don't get the point of a "cheaper" device.

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #24 of 71
How much does using plastic over aluminum (or something else) reduce the BOM? Could this maybe be a phone for China only? A thicker, plastic iPhone....I'm just not feeling it.
post #25 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post

I can't remember exactly, but I think companies like AT&T and Verizon get their money back on their subsidy around the 14th or 15th month of a 2 year contract for an average iPhone.

 

It's 14 months for other smartphones.   AT&T says 20 months for the iPhone, which matches what Sprint has said about it being 40% higher that other smartphones, and it also matches the new VZ and ATT requirements that at least 20 months of a contract must be completed before you can upgrade to a new phone.

post #26 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

3GS uses a 3.5" 480x320 TN display so even if you use a more modern ASIC you still have that working against you. If this rumour is true it's going to be a quality device that can reach markets previously noted. I would be surprised to see this sold in the US.
I can't see this being sold in the US either. I wonder if Apple's have a difficult time working out a deal with China Mobile and need something lower cost specifically to make a deal happen.
post #27 of 71
You know, let's give Apple a chance instead of making assumptions and crucifying them bsed on these rumors. Look at the iPad mini. Apple managed to make a smaller iPad that is significantly cheaper than the full sized one, but still maintain excellent build quality. I'm sure whatever Apple comes up with, the thing will be well built, even if it includes plastic. This is not going to be some flimsy plastic Samsung garbage. Apple has shown no signs that it's standards have fallen when it comes to build quality, their new products has proven this. The market is constantly changing, and I trust Apple to respond appropriately. They know that releasing a shitty flagship product will deeply damage their brand name, I'm not worried about that. Some plastic, if implemented correctly, is not the end of the world.
post #28 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

It's 14 months for other smartphones.   AT&T says 20 months for the iPhone, which matches what Sprint has said about it being 40% higher, and also matches the new VZ and ATT requires that at least 20 months of a contract must be completed before you can upgrade to a new phone.
AT&T upgraded me after 9 months. All I had to do was tell them I wanted out of my contract to go Verizon and they upgraded my phone without charging me an upgrade fee. 1biggrin.gif
post #29 of 71

OK, there are about 70-80% of the iPhone users using a case.  How would a cheap iPhone be distinguishable from the expensive iPhone 5?

post #30 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by rsdofny View Post

OK, there are about 70-80% of the iPhone users using a case.  How would a cheap iPhone be distinguishable from the expensive iPhone 5?

 

Heck, the first thing the case makers would probably do, is come up with one that makes it look like the more expensive iPhone from across a room !  1biggrin.gif

post #31 of 71

The plastic body will allow for less complicated and cheaper antenna system.

It will also allow them to manufacture less expensively due to

1)the build process will be faster - less man hours or run the line faster

2)less rejects, scratches, parts not quite fitting, ect

3)materials slightly cheaper

post #32 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

Locked to a carrier… carrier forces data anyway… 

 

I just don't get the point of a "cheaper" device.

 

For post-paid carriers, yeah it's not worth it because they've built subsidies into their data plans. But pay-as-you-go is growing in the United States just as it's a huge presence in other companies. Even aside from that model, Tmobile has an unlimited everything plan for $50/month -- the only catch is that they won't subsidize your phone. 

post #33 of 71

How will this be cheaper than the free iPhone 4?

post #34 of 71

I'll bet the phone will be $250 on the low end up to $350 on the high end.  Apple always charges more than people think they should/could, and then sales and demand are better than expected.  I also bet the phone will have a 50% gross margin.

 

They're going to make a great phone inexpensive.  If it's like an Iphone 4, more or less in plastic I'll bet they can charge 250 and get to or near a 50% gross margin.  Save a few bucks with a cheaper camera if necessary, ect.

 

If its more like a 4S, with better processor, better camera(s), ect, more like $350.  50% gross margin easy.  Most of the parts, and all the expensive parts can be sourced for far less than what the tear downs calculated for 4 and 4S when they were released.

 

I think Apple always intended to do this project, they just wouldn't do it until it could be a great phone, with great margins, done inexpensively.  Guess what else, if each one of these phones spends just $25 in the App Store over it's lifetime, that's an extra $7.50 of revenue to Apple per phone with a gross margin on that of probably 98%.  They HAD to wait until it could be all of the above to protect the existing Iphone franchise.

 

I'd really not be surprised to see them go with a full system on a chip from Quallcom, if it can give good performance, with cost and power savings.

 

The processor will be pretty good, if it's an Apple processor, it would be bare minimum A4 and probably A5.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who has played with a iphone4 and a 4S side by side.  The 4S is so much smoother because the A5 processor is so much better.

 

Separately,

 

I also bet they we will see Iphone6 by Aug 1.  It's not going to be the same materials as Iphone 5 either.  They are going to build something that can fly down the lines, with no rejects.  I am certain Tim Cook is sworn not to face another supply shortage.
 

post #35 of 71
Originally Posted by Proximityeffect View Post
How will this be cheaper than the free iPhone 4?

 

It's for countries that don't have subsidies. Or so it's claimed.

Originally posted by Relic

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post #36 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Citation needed. 1tongue.gif

Where's he going to find a citation for that? I would make a similar claim but just from pure observation.
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post #37 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

I'm still not convinced Apple would do something like this. Why not just start making the 3GS with a faster processor?

That's what I said in a thread last week, but it seems like people would rather have a updated design than a refreshed 'old' looking 3GS.
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post #38 of 71
I prefer my aluminum iphone 5 but I would consider this for my kids. And I am not saying this is a great idea by Apple but they will sell millions and it will cannibalize the iPhone 5s/whatever sales to some degree.
post #39 of 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Citation needed. 1tongue.gif

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #40 of 71
Apple stamps out hundreds of prototypes during development.
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