A less expensive iPhone 4 with only 8GB of storage is already being manufactured in Asia, reports say. Sprint looks to be in line to distribute the iPhone 5.
When Apple gets around to announcing the iPhone 5 at some point in the next five weeks, it will already have a lower-cost option available to consumers. Citing sources familiar with Apple's plans, Reuters contends that an 8-GB version of the iPhone 4 will hit store shelves before the end of September.
This would follow a pattern set by Apple for years. When it debuted the iPhone 4 in June 2010, Apple dropped the price of the iPhone 3GS with 8 GB to $99. The 8-GB iPhone 3GS is still available for $99, leaving those who can't afford the more expensive $199 and $299 models with a least a foot in the iPhone door, so to speak.
It comes as no surprise that Apple would do something similar this year. It makes perfect sense for Apple to debut a $99 iPhone 4 with 8 GB of storage alongside whatever the iPhone 5 turns out to be. If Apple sticks to its playbook, the iPhone 5 will be available with 16 GB and 32 GB of storage for $199 and $299, respectively.
What's not clear is if other components of the cheap-o iPhone 4 also will be downgraded. There have been reports in recent weeks that the glass surfaces on the front and back of the iPhone 4 will be replaced with less expensive plastic.
One analyst, however, believes it may be impossible for Apple to manufacture an iPhone 4 for $99.
"Apple may want to push into the emerging market segment, where customers want to switch to low- to mid-end smartphones from high-end feature phones, which usually cost $150 to $200," Yuanta Securities analyst Bonnie Chang told Reuters. "But I think for an 8-GB iPhone 4, the price is hard to go below $200, so Apple will still need a completely new phone with low specifications for the emerging markets."
Switching gears, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Sprint will carry both the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4 in October. Reports have suggested since April that the next version of the iPhone will be a world phone--supporting both GSM and CDMA networks. In order for Sprint to offer the iPhone 5, Apple needs to create a version supporting CDMA. It already does this for Verizon Wireless. (Sprint has lamented its lack of iPhone as cause for poor financial performance in recent quarters.)
A dual-mode iPhone 5 could support the networks of all the national U.S. carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless.
The Journal reports that the iPhone 5 will launch on AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless's networks in mid-October. It will be thinner than the iPhone 4 and have a better camera, but will look similar.
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