Get Ready For Apple's Cheap iPhones, Colorful iPhones, And iPhone 5S Due In July

Red and yellow and pink and green: What hue would you choose for your low-cost iPhone? If recent rumors hold, this is a choice you'll soon be making.

Fresh chatter in the iPhone world has stirred up a couple of old rumors: There's a cheap iPhone due soon and, taking a leaf out of its iPod heritage, Apple may be poised to release a version of this year's iPhone in a rainbow of different colors.

The latest buzz about the iPhone comes from Ming-Chi Kuo, who's an analyst at KGI Securities. This means he's not necessarily the best-placed person to have direct knowledge inside Apple's systems...but Kuo has been pretty good in predicting Apple's moves in the past, and he does seem to have some connections to the supply chain. This time the idea is that Apple really is going to try to address the lower cost smartphone market in a move a little like it's recent iPad mini release. The cheap iPhone will be made of fiberglass and plastic and have slightly simplified internals compared to the high-end iPhone for 2013, a trick that should keep its costs low. LTE will come as standard, though, to appeal to the rapidly growing 4G markets in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere.

Kuo even suggests it may be so cheap that carrier subsidies, at least in the U.S., could entirely cover the cost of the iPhone. Verizon's CFO was quoted on Monday as saying that the iPhone 4, which Verizon sells for free on contract, thanks to a subsidy, has generated a "lot" of volume for his company, and this means there's no incentive to get staff to promote low-cost alternative handsets—by which he means Android units.

Kuo also predicts that a flagship iPhone 5S will arrive at the same time (a June reveal for a July rollout), with superior chipsets and other features compared to the iPhone 5. Interestingly the iPhone 5 was only released in Fall of 2012, which means Apple may be about to shift its iPhone upgrade timetable again. If so, this could explain why Cupertino is rumored to have recently ordered a slight dip in iPhone 5 production: For mass production of a next-gen phone starting in May/June, the factories would likely have to start ramping up over the next several weeks.

Other suggestions about the iPhone for 2013 point to an August launch date, not a July one. And in terms of specs there's a strong hint that it'll have a much improved camera and will incorporate a fingerprint sensor for security (and possibly multiple profiles) underneath the home button itself. Of course it's also said that the iPhone 5S will have a faster CPU, but that's a given as far as we're concerned: Apple has been innovating its Ax series of chips very successfully so far.

Separately there's been another hint that Apple may release a colorful iPhone this year. Though the rumors suggest the iPhone 5S may be colorful anodized aluminum, we're guessing that this could also be the plastic "cheap" iPhone edition, because it's easy to create colorful plastic parts. Multiple colors is something Apple used very successfully in its iPod business model, particularly to inject some dynamism in later years, and as yet the iPhone has only been made in black and white.

Is it really time for a cheap iPhone? Would you buy an iPhone for its color options alone?

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  • neilclavin

    Apple's strategy has consistently been about being its own disruptor before a competitor does and cannibalising its own market as described in The Innovator's Dilemma - a book which 'deeply influenced' Steve Jobs
    Apple introduced the iPad mini before smaller cheaper tablets could cannibalise the iPad market and also released the iPod nano and shuffle before competitors could take away market share with the more budget constrained end of the market. The products may be cheaper but never the cheapest.

    So strategically this is a fit with Apple's model.

  • JeremyDWright

    The majority of iPhone owners have cases on their black or white model, making a colored iPhone illogical and impractical. Apple, I believe, is relying on other companies (such as Otterbox) to make their phones colorful and unique.

  • Joost Boers

    I loved the anodised coloured iPods - and these coloured iPhones look attractive to me. Getting curious!

  • Chris Kelly

    A colourful iPhone would be really nice indeed. Although I would probably choose a flagship '5s' over a yellow iPhone if the yellow one was very low spec

  • Imchanca

    I think is about time that they make cheaper iphone. As long as cellphone companies are not taking the opportunity to continue with their contract tactics I think is most welcome by customers.

  • Casey Nezin

    Whilst I don't know about any sort of market impact, as a consumer I find the idea of new colors refreshing. One of Apple's major selling points has been its design aesthetic, and after all these years I'm definitely ready for something other than plain black or white.
    Casey Nezin--Employee of Etech7

  • Leo MacLehose

    Interesting point guys but genuinely, what is better out there than a MacBook, than iTunes, than the iPod, nothing is the clear answer in my opinion, Apple still have a very solid foundation to work from. Strategic decisions like these are going to define them over the coming years, but you'd be a fool to write them off. 

  • Philipp

    Why should Apple products be "better"? Please have a clear argumentation if you don't want to sound like a teenager.

  • Jamil Buie

    Great turns to good when you rest on your laurels. iTunes got fat and unfocused. iPods won't let me augment my music and the ultrabooks are nipping at the heels of macbooks and this is from a die hard user and shareholder.

  • panos1911

    Guys it's simple ; Apple is no longer no1. It was until 2011 in my opinion.Now we have the galaxy brand the google phone and many others that are better than iphone.yes apple showed everyone how to do it but they finally made it to build phones better than the iphone. i would not see that coming back in 2008-2009 when i bought my first iphone.
    Now i own a galaxy note 2 and iam not going back to apple.

  • Jessica Wall

    I concur. It took me 5 years but I finally got my BFF, an avid Apple Fanboy, to come to the dark side. He loves his GS3 and finally sees the misguided hype of a subpar iPhone. And why is Apple still selling the iPhone 4 when there has been two upgrades since its' debut? Overproduction?

  • Chris Kelly

    I feel the opposite. The iPhone is still the best phone I've ever had and I wouldn't consider an android device over a 5 or 5s for my next upgrade. We are spoiled for choice now and we have Apple to thank, even if you get a GS3. Lucky lucky consumers  

  • Kathleenlturner

    beginning of the end, color and bargains are not what built apple. brand is lost.

  • Matt

     but having a lower price point opens up the world of apple to more people. Just because the have options now doesn't mean the brand is dead.