Speculation about an “iPhone Lite” has been brewing for a while now–but the typically tight-lipped Apple hasn’t confirmed anything. This latest story, though, feels like the same kind of official unofficial leak we suspect the company has used to seed positive Apple-centric stories in the The Wall Street Journal. Coming after a prominent analyst downgraded expectations for Apple based on concerns about delays in the iPhone 5 release, it’s plausible Apple wanted to quell worries and tease new features.
An iPhone Lite could translate into billions of new sales for Apple. From the sounds of it, the scaled-back iPhone uses much of the guts of the iPhone 4 in a cheaper shell, which could be the “radical” overhaul the market’s been chattering about, including a super-slim teardrop-shaped design. Apple’s possibly dropping expensive items like memory and the unique metal chassis and glass back to keep the price low–low enough to please buyers in developing nations. This also could mean consumers in China, and people with smaller budgets in the U.S. and Europe.
If the iPhone Lite comes to market at a price comparable to entry-level Android phones–each lacking the high-end iPhone’s cachet and performance abilities–Apple will be giving Android a real run for the money. Rather than keeping last year’s model on sale at a reduced price, Apple could spin the new iPhone as a swanky entry-level option for the rest of us, who might have otherwise gone with Android. Potential result: millions–if not billions–of new dollars to bolster Apple’s balance sheet.