Apple said to be working on ‘low-cost’ iPhone

It will feature the same processor as Apple’s current flagship device, the iPhone 11


APPLE Inc has reportedly been preparing budget-friendly iPhones for the masses in an effort to address a wider swathe of the global smartphone market.

According to recent reports, the tech giant has begun mass production of a new low-cost iPhone and is planning to unveil the product as early as March this year.

The new product is said to share similarities in design to the iPhone 8 released in 2017, sporting a 4.7-inch screen, a home button, a single-lens camera and Touch ID.

“It will not have Apple’s Face ID biometric authentication, but will feature the same processor as Apple’s current flagship device, the iPhone 11.

“The assembly work for the new handset will be split among Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, Pegatron Corp and Wistron Corp,” Bloomberg reported, citing sources.

Meanwhile, US-based tech website MacRumors said Apple will be rolling out iPhones in three display designs sized at 5.4 inches, 6.1 inches and 6.7 inches for its low-cost range.

“Rumours suggest the 6.7-inch iPhone and one 6.1-inch model will be higher-end OLED devices with triple-lens cameras, while the 5.4-inch and 6.1-inch models will be lower-end iPhones with dual-lens cameras and a more affordable price tag.

“All iPhones in 2020 are expected to feature OLED displays regardless of price.

“Design-wise, at least one of the new iPhones will feature a significant redesign with a metal frame that’s similar to the frame of the iPhone 4,” it said.

The new iPhones could also replicate the “distinctive, flat look” for its stainless steel frame as seen in the iPhone 4, the website added.

It also said the low-cost iPhones could be donning a new “TrueDepth” camera system which cuts down on the size of the notch on the front.

A 3D triple-lens rear camera system is expected to be installed in the smartphones — a system which employs a precise depth calculator for images, improving both photography and augmented reality capabilities.

The smartphone is expected to be the first lower-cost iPhone model since the launch of the iPhone SE back in March 2016, which was priced at just under RM2,000 for the base model.

Apple also released the iPhone 5C in September 2013 with prices starting at US$99 (RM407.33) in the US for the 16GB model.

Over time, the company’s more affordable iPhones have proven popular among consumers, as smartphone prices become increasingly exorbitant. Apple’s latest model, the iPhone 11, retails for between RM3,399 to RM4,099 in Malaysia, while the iPhone XS Max is priced at RM4,399.

The 2016 iPhone SE was launched with notable features and a unique design, at a relatively low price point.

Hence, many are hoping for Apple to replicate the success of the iPhone SE with the rumoured, highly anticipated low-cost iPhone that — if speculation is true — could surface next month.

Nevertheless, many tech experts highlighted that low-cost iPhones need to come with an incredibly low price point to stay relevant in the challenging market.

iPhones are still generally viewed as a “hard-sell” in many countries, as many Android rivals offer a better and affordable price point to the consumers.

Bloomberg reported that a cheaper offering may help Apple better compete in the most price-competitive and fast-growing emerging phone markets, particularly in countries like India.

Most experts suggest the base model of the low-cost iPhones needs to be priced at least between RM1,700 to RM1,900.

It is also expected that Apple will be revealing official details about the low-cost iPhones around the end of this month.

The firm is currently hoping to see the return of positive growth in smartphone shipments this year, with a goal of shipping more than 200 million units in 2020.

The tech giant is also planning a batch of new high-end iPhones for release later this year, with the models to incorporate 5G connectivity, faster processors and a newer version of 3D cameras on the back.