Apple Rumored to be Creating Plastic iPhone for Chinese Market

Rumors are resurfacing about cheaper Apple phones – this time, the details are coming from Jeremy Horwitz of iLounge. Horwitz’s sources describes the new model as being a plastic hybrid of Iphone 5 front, iPod Classic sides, and iPod Touch rear surface designs. The new design will be targeted towards low income Chinese consumers:

One of our sources claims that Apple’s iPhone prices remain too high for most mainland Chinese customers—the iPhone 5 hardware alone starts at $849 there, versus the iPhone 4 at $500, in a country where the average annual salary is around $3,000 per person.

Apple’s Chinese workers can hardly afford to buy the products they create. Chinese Foxconn workers responsible for making iPhones in China makes about $290 a month – with deductions around $72 for housing. 

Just yesterday, the Wall Street Journal wrote another op-ed justifying why Apple should create cheaper models for budget users citing its own speculation in January about Apple’s potentially new polycarbonate plastic model:

Before the launch of the iPhone 4 in mid-2010, the company developed designs for cheaper phones that were very similar to the iPhone at the time but had a less expensive back and sides, one of the people said.

Apple tabled the idea as some executives worried a second iPhone would complicate its manufacturing processes. The company decided to keep older iPhone models on sale for less, a strategy that didn’t require designing new products.

In response to rumors, Apple has been adamantly vague in its press correspondences. Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller refuses to discuss plans for future products. He even contacted The Shanghai Evening News to amend its headlines and quotes.

Meanwhile in Hong Kong and mainland China, the company’s Q1 earnings are still robust with an increase of 67% from the last quarter. There are already signs that sales are tapering off so it might be time to target the rest of China’s low income market.