A cheap iPhone is an oxymoron, or at least Apple had people believe that for a while. That was until Samsung flew to the top of the perch and Android became the de-facto OS for smartphones across the world. The stock market too has shown a lack of confidence in the iPhone maker and the company’s stock has been sliding since September 2012. All of this has fuelled a rumour that the Cupertino-based device and media giant is making a cheaper iPhone targeted specifically at emerging markets like China and India.
The latest addition to this rumour is from iPhone case maker Tactus. A blog post on the company’s official blog has a photo of what they claim is the back cover of the ‘cheap iPhone’. The white polycarbonate back, shown in the picture, has curved edges and elongated volume buttons much like the classic iPod. The design seems to be a rollback as the current crop of iPhones have glass or aluminium backs and have adopted sleeker, straighter lines along the sides. Tactus also believes that the phone will come in 5 colour options – black, white, blue, red and yellow. While Apple has rolled out iPods in various colours the iPhones have always been clothed in whites, blacks or metallic aluminium coats. The speculation that Apple would throw in a dash of colour for the budget iPhone is believable but the choice of shades reminds us of Nokia’s palette rather than Apple’s.
The plastic back of the rumoured budget iPhone
Now, about the hardware; Tactus claims that the phone will sport an A5 chip like the iPad Mini and will have a 3.5-inch screen instead of a 4-inch screen like the latest iteration of the iPhone or many of the other budget phones currently in the market. The camera is said to be a 5 MP shooter and there is no word on the front camera or whether 1080p recording would be possible. If the phone does indeed have the A5 chip like the iPad Mini then 1080p recording could be a possibility.
Tactus has also speculated on the price and the launch date. Their hunch is that the phone would cost between $230 and $300 (Rs 12,000 and Rs 16,000 approx). Given that the ‘cheap iPhone’ is being made for markets like China and India it is safe to assume that these are not US prices. This would mean that the iPhone will end up being cheaper than phones like the Samsung Galaxy Grand and the Micromax Canvas HD. That’s a conjecture that we find very hard to believe as Apple India is currently selling a three generation old phone, the iPhone 4, at Rs 26,000. The rumoured launch date for the device is said to be October 15th, 2013. Last year Apple launched the iPad Mini on Oct 23rd, so, the guess that they will come up with another ‘budget’ device around the same time this year doesn’t seem to be far-fetched.
Apple’s exclusivity is a great marketing trick and is something that they would not give up so easily. The company has also been successful in dumping a large number of iPhone 4s onto the Indian consumer leading to extremely strong sales. They will definitely ramp up their offering as they look to grow in India and China but will it be the phone that Tactus describes? We doubt it.