Is Apple Coming Out With a "Budget" iPhone this Year?
July 11, 2011
There is no device on earth that conjures more rumor mongering and rampant speculation than the Apple iPhone. The latest rumors suggest that we could be getting the iPhone 5 in September. Not too long before that, we were hearing that there will be no iPhone 5 this year, rather an upgraded version of the iPhone 4 called the 4S. But those aren't the only rumors. Apple executives themselves suggested that the Cupertino based company was looking into the prepaid market and budget phones. Digesting all these rumors and trying to translate them, some are now speculating that we will see two different new iPhones this year. So let's examine the possibilities. First off, we aren't even going to entertain the idea that there will only be one iPhone, because speculation is fun. It is becoming pretty clear that there will indeed be an iPhone 5 coming out this year. That device could end up on Verizon and AT&T, at which point, the cost of the iPhone 4 would drop. At that point, Apple could add the iPhone 4 to Sprint and T-Mobile, giving them a presence on all four carriers, thus improving their chances of keeping pace with Android. While this isn't exactly the same thing as two new iPhones, the fact that it would be the first time either Sprint or T-Mobile have carried the iPhone is technically new. The problem is, it would be very hard for Apple to drop the price of the iPhone 4 to the point where it reaches the "budget" phone pricing. The iPhone 3G still sells for $50 with a 2 year contract from AT&T. There is no way that the iPhone 4 could hit that price point. Another possibility is that the iPhone 4S that has been rumored will be some sort of stripped down version of the iPhone 4. Cut down the specs considerably, from memory to the camera and everything in between. A small cosmetic change from a glass back to a metal one, or God Forbid plastic, could cut production costs enough for this phone to enter the market as a "budget" phone. At that point, the iPhone 5, which is rumored to be equipped to run on all 4 major US networks already, would be launched on the big 4 simultaniously. The budget version of the iPhone would find its way to Virgin, Boost, Metro PCS and other carriers in that same category. Regional carriers like US Cellular would even be able to get their hands on the iPhone. One thing is for certain. Apple has been losing ground to Android for the better part of the last year. In order to even keep pace, let alone close the gap, Apple needs to make itself more available. At the very least, the next iPhone will very likely be available on all four major networks. Even then, the iPhone is one of the most expensive smartphones out there, limiting the market. A second, stripped down iPhone definitely makes sense. It just flies in the face of what Apple typically does.