Apple's iPhone 5
Will Apple's iPhone 5S have a little brother to tempt budget shoppers?
The Apple rumour mill has gone into overdrive again, with the signs pointing to a September 10 product launch. Some people are still hanging out for an Apple television or iWatch, but it's more likely that we'll see the iPhone 5S -- an incremental upgrade to the iPhone 5 which retains the same basic design. You'll probably see a boost in the processor and camera specs, and perhaps something special like a fingerprint reader -- although fingerprint readers can be fickle and might spoil Apple's efforts to create a "just works" user experience.
There's a certain stigma involved in buying last year's model, especially for a status symbol like a smartphone, but if Apple simply wrote "iPhone 5 mini" on the box it would double sales of the old iPhone 4S.
Apple lovers will line up around the corner to pay top dollar for premium iDevices, so you could argue that Cupertino doesn't need to produce a $400 iPhone when people will happily pay $800. Such an approach made sense when Apple owned the lion's share of the smartphone market, but Android is going from strength to strength.
A budget iPhone would help Apple hold back the tide of low-end Android rivals, in the hope that budget iPhone owners might eventually make the upgrade to the flagship iPhone rather than a flagship Android rival.
A few years ago a budget model iPhone seemed unthinkable, but with the release of the larger iPhone and smaller iPad it seems Apple is finally prepared to move past its one-size-fits-all approach in order to address the Android threat.
You might argue that we've always had budget iPhones due to Apple's tendency to retain the previous models, although Apple has never painted them as budget options and they've all but disappeared from view once they were superseded. Right now you can still buy the iPhone 4S and even the older iPhone 4 from Apple at $679 and $449 respectively.
You're limited to 16GB of storage on the 4S or 8GB on the 4, but they're still tempting deals for people with simple needs who want to buy into the Apple ecosystem.
Of course there's a certain stigma involved in buying last year's model, especially for a status symbol like a smartphone, but if Apple simply wrote "iPhone 5 mini" on the box it would double sales of the old iPhone 4S.
If we do see a budget iPhone this year, I expect it would sport a 4-inch display but rely on an older processor, only offer 16GB of storage and perhaps ditch LTE. So basically it would be an iPhone 4S, but with a few cosmetic changes like a larger screen and Lightning connector to help reunify the iGadget ecosystem.
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