The Wall Street Journal, often seen as the closest thing that Apple has to an official rumor channel, is talking up the thorny issue of the iPhone Mini again. Only this time, there's no talk of it being a scaled-down version of existing models, merely cheaper. Jeremy Horwitz, editor-in-chief of iLounge, yesterday pointed to a 4-inch screen for both the iPhone 5S as well as the "budget model," which Bloomberg pegged at costing between $99 and $149.
There has long been intrigue about a cheaper version of the smartphone that changed smartphones (it was the BlackBerry wot changed phones, let's not forget) and, with the iPad Mini currently doing great work on bringing Apple's vision of tablet-ism to a broader audience, a cut-price iPhone would be a logical step for the firm.
For starters, it's coming under a great deal of pressure from Samsung, which is making a good fist of conquering the smartphone market—its Galaxy S3 became the world's best-selling model. But Apple still dominates the domestic market, with iOS just shading Android as the most popular operating system in the U.S. And Steve Jobs, who once dismissed the idea of an iPad Mini, is no longer running the company. His successor, Tim Cook, has long been busy examining the possibilities of bringing Apple products to the masses.
With phones, the size thing doesn't really come into it anymore, unless you're one of the few people left who hasn't dipped his or her toes into the smartphone market (and believe me, there are people like that who still exist). Let's face it, with lots of "phablet" talk currently doing the rounds at CES this year, who would honestly want a smartphone the same size as a dumbphone? Less space inside the casing equals smaller brain for the phone. But a cheaper casing—plastic instead of aluminum, as the WSJ claims—will take the price of an iPhone down, as will using the technology found in older iPhones.
[Image: Flickr user Tomas]