We have heard for a while a rumour that Apple is preparing a low-cost version of its iconic iPhone which will be launched in emerging markets to level the playing field in the race against Android.

We have heard that the cheaper iPhone will have a larger 4.5-inch display and will be launched alongside two other iPhones, but the buzz surrounding the iPhone Plus or Math device has died down. However, a more affordable version of the iPhone is still on the cards. But now details are emerging from Korea that say the company's new entry-level handset will have a 4-inch display just like the iPhone 5.

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We could see a budget iPhone 5 later this year

The details on Apple's so-called budget iPhone were revealed to AppleInsider by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. According to him, the specs for Apple's low-cost iPhone were decided way back in 2011, and the company is “unlikely to abruptly change” due to a market shift towards larger-display phones or phablets.

The new, less expensive iPhone model, according to Kuo, will have a “super-thin plastic casing mixed with glass fibre.” The material will make it stronger, thinner and lighter than typical smartphone plastic casings seen regularly on devices produced by the likes of LG and Samsung.

Kuo also revealed that the handset’s casing will be ultra thin, clocking in between 0.4 and 0.6 millimeters. The phone will also reportedly come in a range of colours, much like the current iPod touch line-up. According to Kuo, there will be four to six colour options.

Earlier this week, Kuo had reported that the Cupertino-based company was likely to diversify manufacturing for its low-cost and legacy iPhones. Foxconn or Hon Hai will build the thinner plastic casings and also assemble the phones while Green Point of the Jabil group is expected to provide more casings to Pegatron, which will assemble the remaining batches of the iPhone. However, contrary to earlier rumours, Foxconn has not been dropped by Apple as a manufacturer. In fact, the company will be producing the next-gen iPhone 5, which will be released along side the low-cost variant.

The iPhone 5S, as it is rumoured to be known, will be based on the design of the current iPhone 5. The premium iPhone 5S will be a refresh like the move from iPhone 4 to 4S and will be announced in line with Apple’s release cycle. The next high-end iPhone is expected to include a fingerprint sensor under the home button that will eliminate the need to enter passwords and potentially add new functionality such as secure e-wallet transactions through Passbook.

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