Is a Cheaper iPhone Featuring Plastic and Metal Chassis Design Due?

Additional reports have surfaced about the next entry-level iPhone’s outer shell, reinforcing earlier reports claiming it could be made of plastic. This time, Digitimes cites anonymous sources in Apple’s supply chain who allege that the lower-cost iPhone chassis supplier will be a US-based electronic manufacturing service (EMS) provider.

The Taiwanese site picked up reports about the cheaper iPhone back in December, and today it emerged that the related components for the next-generation handset are reportedly currently undergoing the validation process. A release for the second half of this year is projected, according to these reports.

Another interesting rumor involving Apple’s supply chain, according to Digitimes, is that the entry-level iPhone will adopt “a chassis with plastic and metal, with the internal metal parts being able to be seen from outside through special design.”

This development reflects a recently-released after-market iPhone 5 translucent kit containing an entire set of parts, turning Apple’s flagship handset translucent on the rear and sides, which results in a quite unique look.

Foxconn did not comment on the story.

You may recall that Digitimes was the first to report the arrival of a cheaper iPhone designed for China and other emerging markets. This rumor was confirmed by the Wall Street Journal’s trusted sources later that day.

Bloomberg’s sources have already been talking about a possible price tag, which was set between $99 and $149, although Apple analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray found the $149–$199 price more likely. But most importantly, each source has pointed toward a 2013 debut, placing the launch in the second half of this year.

The news of a cheaper iPhone made waves on the global scale, and reporters contacted Apple executive Phil Schiller, who was at that time on an official visit to China.

Schiller initially downplayed down the rumors, but a revised version of the same interview published by the Shanghai Evening News cited Schiller saying that Apple is not discussing plans for any future products.

The rumor of a cheaper iPhone remains alive, and as the most recent reports suggest, it would not be entirely unreasonable to expect it to materialize soon.

[Via: Digitimes]

Written by Istvan Fekete, edited by Mike Crook