The hit-and-miss DigiTimes is at it again with a new story on the cheap iPhone rumor stating that “Apple's rumored entry-level iPhone reportedly may adopt plastic for its chassis instead of reinforced glass or unibody metal.”
The reason why Apple is supposedly using these materials for an upcoming low-end iPhone is to keep production costs down, according to sources from the upstream supply chain cited by the Taiwanese site.
Asked to comment on the rumor, Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry) remained mum. The assembler is known to keep its mouth shut on rumors and speculation, just like Apple, its biggest partner.
Chatter in the supply chain says that “the inexpensive iPhone chassis supplier will reportedly be a US-based electronic manufacturing service (EMS) provider.”
Moreover (this is where it gets interesting), other rumors say the phone’s enclosure will actually be a mixture of plastic and metal, “with the internal metal parts being able to be seen from outside through special design,” according to the same sources.
The sources went as far as to say that other components are already going through validation. The device should launch in mid-2013, according to the sources’ estimates.
The cheap iPhone rumor has been making the rounds in the Apple blogosphere for years now. Every time, it involves cheaper materials and a smaller form factor. This year, however, it’s different.
The same DigiTimes recently cited industry sources as saying that Apple may actually introduce a low-end iPhone with a bigger screen. The goal, according to those sources, is to steal away potential buyers of Samsung’s Galaxy S III.
Apple has also introduced the iPad mini this year, a scenario that many analysts didn’t believe would materialize. Apple has finally shown interest in developing more affordable gadgets, though it has yet to do the same on the smartphone front.
Comments made in a recent interview by Apple’s SVP of marketing Phil Schiller would indicate that the company wishes to stay on track with the premium quality / pricing of its products.