Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal (again) backed the swirling rumors previously calling for a redesigned and inexpensive iPhone model aimed at China and developing markets, where handsets are more often than not sold contract-free. Today, Bloomberg piggy-backs on the rumor with its own take, saying this new and less expensive iPhone model could cost anywhere from $99 to $149. That’s the full, unsubsidized price customers would be paying without having to commit their soul to a carrier…

According to the story:

Apple Inc. plans to sell a smaller, cheaper version of the iPhone as soon as this year, said a person familiar with the plans, part of a push to gain customers in developing nations.

Apple, which had been working on a more affordable smartphone since at least February 2011, is weighing retail prices of $99 to $149 for a device that would debut in late 2013, at the earliest, according to the person, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private.

The report goes on to note that the device would use cheaper parts, but adds it might be smaller than current models, which contradicts claims of a larger, five-inch display. The obligatory people who were briefed on the plans told Bloomberg that “Apple was also considering a more versatile version that would work on multiple wireless networks”.

The iPhone maker apparently has spoken “to at least one of the top U.S. wireless carriers” about its plans, the source added.

Perhaps Apple is in talks with T-Mobile, the sole major U.S. carrier without the iPhone?

We know for a fact that T-Mobile USA will start selling Apple’s handset within months. The affordable iPhone mini, as the press calls it, would also tie nicely with T-Mobile’s unlimited 4G data offering.

Need more proof?

The German carrier announced at CES it will start offering its Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan with no annual contract. It costs $70 per month, includes unlimited voice, text and data and is available right now.

Bloomberg also repeats WSJ’s claim that top dogs at Apple have been considering a lower-cost iPhone model to revert market share losses in emerging markets, where Android handsets have pretty much grabbed the low to mid-end of the market to themselves.

The notoriously unreliable DigiTimes last week reported that some supply-chain sources have seen the sample of the low-cost iPhone. The publication added the iPhone mini will have a larger display, quite possibly measuring five inches diagonally, and “a brand new exterior design”.

For years Apple produced 3.5-inch iPhones until the company relented and finally gave the iPhone a larger four-inch screen in September 2012. Though its taller screen enables users to enjoy more content on the iPhone 5, Android users are accustomed to screens measuring up to five inched diagonally.


Samsung’s Galaxy S III, which during the September 2012 quarter was briefly the best-selling smartphone, has a 4.8-inch display.

The Wall Street Journal pretty much corroborated the DigiTimes report, chiming in with a story of its own saying the cheaper phone could resemble the standard iPhone, “with a different, less-expensive body”.

“One possibility Apple has considered is lowering the cost of the device by using a different shell made of polycarbonate plastic”, the Journal adds. “Many other parts could remain the same or be recycled from older iPhone models”.

With The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg throwing its proverbial credibility behind the meme, we’re expecting The  New York Times to follow suit. At this point, this is hardly yet another stupid Apple rumor because WSJ and Bloomberg are unofficial Apple mouthpieces.

Of course, Apple could change its mind at any time and choose not to release the product. After all, as WSJ noted, “Apple has explored such a device for years”.