Apple working on a cheaper iPhone, says WSJ

A report from the Wall Street Journal claimed that Apple is working on a cheaper iPhone that will possibly release as soon as late 2013.

The WSJ cited its sources as “people briefed on the matter,” and added that Apple has apparently been exploring this kind of device for years. For background, WSJ previously reported about a less-expensive iPhone back in 2011, but the device never materialized. But the wheels are turning once again for a “less expensive version of the flagship device” to release later this year.

According to the WSJ’s sources, the cheaper Apple handset may look like the standard iPhone, but with a different, less-expensive body. One solution to a cheaper phone body Apple considered was a shell made of polycarbonate plastic versus the iPhone 5’s aluminum body. The guts of the phone could remain the same as the current iPhone or consist or recycled parts from older iPhone models.

Apple considered a cheaper iPhone as far back as 2009 in an effort to “grab market share and hook people on the brand,” sources told the WSJ. Designs for the cheaper iPhone were once drafted in mid-2010 before the launch of the iPhone 4, but the plans were put on ice after some executives worried about a second iPhone model complicating manufacturing processes, according to the WSJ’s source. Instead, Apple decided to keep older iPhone models on sale for less money. The WSJ added that Apple still may never even move forward with the device.

The iPhone remains Apple’s flagship product. Apple reported in its Q4 2012 earnings in September 2012 that it sold 26.9 million iPhones.

Apple’s stock closed today at $525.31 a share. The Cupertino, Calif.-headquartered corporation will have its Q1 2013 earnings call on Jan. 23 at 2 p.m. PST.