'Cheap iPhone' Could Launch This Year: WSJ Report

A person looks at an iPhone 5 during the opening of a new Apple store on November 15, 2012 in Saint-Herblain, western France.
A person looks at an iPhone 5 during the opening of a new Apple store on November 15, 2012 in Saint-Herblain, western France. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD (Photo credit should read JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/AFP/Getty Images)

For nearly six years, Apple's sold just one line of iPhones. The strategy serves the Cupertino, Calif.-based company well. By some measures, the pricey, wildly popular smartphone -- the iPhone 5 starts at $199 and prices vary depending on storage size -- generates more cash than the entirety of Microsoft's product line.

Now, under pressure from cheaper Android devices, Apple's looking to attract new customers turned off by high prices. According to one of the most trusted Apple reporters in the U.S., the smartphone maker is set to introduce a second, cheaper line of iPhones.

After speaking to "people briefed on the matter," The Wall Street Journal's Jessica E. Lessin reports that a less expensive Apple smartphone, made with a plastic shell instead of the iPhone 5's aluminum casing, would be available by the end of 2013.

Read the full report here.

Lessin's track-record is mixed on Apple-related scoops: In November, she reported that Google was prepping an iOS version of Google Maps that appeared in the App Store the next month. In December, she reported that Apple is testing designs for its own television. That fabled "iTV" has yet to hit the market.

She's certainly not the first to spread rumors about a cheap iPhone -- sometimes dubbed the "iPhone mini." (Lessin says the company's been developing the device since 2009.) Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston told CNET last week that "[w]e believe Apple will have to launch an 'iPhone Mini' at some point over the next three years."

And if this talk of a more affordable Apple smartphone sounds familiar, it should. In 2011, numerous outlets -- including Reuters and, yep, the Wall Street Journal (not Lessin) -- wrote that a cheaper iPhone would be launched that year in addition to the normally priced one.

You probably know what happened. When October 2011 came around, the only new phone that Apple ended up offering was a fully priced iPhone 4S.

The only thing we know for certain is that as long as Apple continues selling its electronic wares, there will be people wishing out loud that they were cheaper.



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