Apple’s low-cost polycarbonate iPhone compared to other iPhones, iPod touch (with video)

“We’ve been hearing a lot of rumors about a new plastic iPhone due to arrive later this year, dubbed the ‘low-cost iPhone’ by some, and a video posted by DetroitBORG on YouTube (via AmongTech) shows the new rear shell of the plastic iPhone, which is expected to replace the existing iPhone 4 and 4S models already on sale,” James Cull reports for MacRumors.

“In the video, Mike from DetroitBORG walks through the various features of the new rear shell and speculates on what features the new ‘low-cost iPhone’ will have,” Cull reports. “While the shell appears to be essentially identical to one that leaked earlier this month, the video offers a good comparison between the shell and several of Apple’s other iOS devices, including the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 5, and the fifth-generation iPod touch.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward W.” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Fully-assembled low-cost polycarbonate iPhone shown next to iPhone 5 (with photo) – July 24, 2013


      1. Liquid Metal, and I do not think it is a decoy. More likely Liquid Metal will be used for iPhone 6, but if it makes it to iPhone 5S, that would further differentiate the lineup (5S, 5, Plastic).

        1. It would make sense. But price is issue. Just look at list of metals in the LM alloy and how much a tonne costs. Even with super high production scale aluminium is much cheaper than LM alloy.

          However, if the difference will be not that critical, Apple may finally decide that it is time to use LM for flagman iPhone. It is going to be unique.

          1. You are forgetting the cost of milling the iP5 aluminum frame and plastic covers. Include this and LM might be reasonable. I don’t know and won’t speculate.

            1. You are right, moulding is cheaper. However, Apple uses superthin shapes, which complicates the process — as the resulting thickness should be kept constant. Just centrifugal casting may still not work properly.

            1. It may be the cheapest iPhone but it’s still the Dom Perignon of smartphones. That is to say that even though Dom Perignon is no longer considered the absolute best of Champagnes, it’s still the original and still a lot better than a lot of sparkling wines and wannabe champagnes. The Samdungs don’t even deserve to be likened to a decent Prosecco.
              They’re more like that “Foo Yuk” from that Bond movie “The Man With A Golden Gun”.

    1. What features would Apple remove from the low-end iPhone, I wonder? Margins on this will be lower, they must keep some features exclusively for the normal iPhone, that can’t be easily replicated with 3rd party software (e.g. if they exclude Siri, then they give Google and other voice-recognition apps a solid foothold).

      1. It IS a “normal” iPhone.

        I think it will simply be the current iPhone 5, with 8GB and an A5 instead of an A6. Or maybe you can think of it as an 8GB iPod touch with phone parts added.

        This new model replaces the current iPhone 4 as the “free with contract” choice in the lineup. The iPhone 4S is next up for that spot, but it would not work well this year, because it still has a 3.5-inch screen and the old dock connector.

        My bet is that, with the carrier subsidy payment, it will have similar profit margin compared the 16GB iPhone 5 at $99 with contract and iPhone 5S (or whatever it is called) at $199 and up with contract. The reason why the strategy of using the older iPhone models as the lower cost choices works for Apple, is because Apple does not care which model the customer chooses, as long as the choice is an iPhone. So, the lower cost choices obviously cannibalize sales from the latest model, but Apple does not care because the profit per iPhone sold remains comparable.

        This strategy continues, using this new model as the lowest cost choice. And Apple can continue to use it for the next TWO years, without the need to change it.

        1. The low cost iPhone is not for developed markets like the U.S., although it will be sold here. There is not much need for a “low cost” iPhone here because people can already get a subsidized “free” iPhone.

          The iPhone Plastic is for India, China, Russia, Brazil, etc. Those are the places where people buy their phone and pay for their service separately (no subsidized carrier contracts). That is where Apple needs a lower cost competitor, because those people aren’t paying $900 for an iPhone.

          1. I think this model is aimed at ALL markets. You heard (from the quarterly conference call) how popular the old 44-based iPhone 4 has been in the current lineup. This new model replaces the iPhone 4 in the next lineup. It will be even MORE popular as the “free with contract” choice. And as I mentioned above, Apple does not care if a customer chooses it instead of the latest greatest model, because with the subsidy payment from the carrier, the profit per iPhone is comparable, no matter which model is sold.

            Also, in markets like India, the older iPhone models have been available. The retail price (with no contract) for this new iPhone should not be very different from the current price for an iPhone 4. It may help increase sales in those markets, but it is still NOT a “low-cost” iPhone.

            I think a TRUE low-cost phone from Apple is coming, as one of those amazing new products Tim Cook promised in the conference call.

          1. By your definition of “cheap,” the “cheap iPhone” has existed for many years. The iPhone 3GS (until last year) followed by the iPhone 4 (currently) are the existing “cheap” iPhones.

            That is… if your definition of a “cheap” phone is one that costs $400 or more retail, with no contract.

            And it will sell like hotcakes, as the new “free with contract” choice in the iPhone lineup, but NOT as the “cheap iPhone” option.

            1. Yes Ken it’s cheaper than the current 5 or coming soon 5S. So yes Ken, it’s a cheap iPhone. It will have less and will cost less Ken. Thats why it is the cheap fucking iPhone Ken. Wow! I’ve never seen anybody struggle to acknowledge when they are wrong like you Ken. Ken, you’re wrong. It’s a cheap iPhone. Cheap,cheap cheap!

            2. Yes, because the BMW 3 Series is a “cheap” BMW, because it is cheaper than the BMW 5 Series. LOL

              “Cheaper” does not equal “cheap.”

              Apple does NOT do “cheap.”

              You’re brain is stuck in “chick mode,” because all I hear is “Cheap,cheap cheap!” (direct quote).

      2. There’s no reason to exclude software features. That actually would take resources to change the OS, so that defeats the low-cost purpose.

        Besides the plastic body, I see losing the Retina display as the next easiest and most likely change. Apple is already having yield issues with iPad mini for Retina displays, so why have the added cost of a Retina display in a low cost product? That could permit a smaller battery, but that makes little sense as Apple would want to maximize battery life regardless. The only issue would be if the Plastic got significantly more battery life than the 5 or 5S, I would think Apple would want them to be similar.

        Other cost-saving features could be using an older processor, lower memory, etc.

    2. Smartphone subsidy is around $450 – 480 (for vast majority of mid- to high-end smartphones). There is absolutely no way Apple is going to release a new phone and price it below $400 retail, competing with Android devices running FroYo or Gingerbread (i.e. 2-year old OS).

      Minimum full retail price will have to be at least $400; perhaps more (say, $450, to replace the two-generations-back model, currently iPhone 4).

    1. I agree. I thought rumor of a low cost iPhone had something to do with the deal to supply chips being signed but Apple paying a higher than normal rate has me a bit confused. Apple should have waited until this phone was released. Once Apple starts taking market share from Google and Samsung they will be a lot more palpable to deal with

    2. Samsung already is in trouble. Apple is selling its flagship iPhone very briskly, while Samsung’s flagship S4 is floundering. Now throw in an iPhone Plastic which competes with Samsung’s cheap offerings and you have to wonder why anyone would buy a Samsung.

  1. I’m puzzled about gross margin guidance for the 4th quarter. Apple will most likely release several new products in the next few months – iphone 5s, new ipad mini, new rMPB, and new Mac Pro. But GM is forecasted to be about the same at 36% to 37% level. Did Apple give any explanation for why that is the case?

    1. If it’s anything like last year, there will be the new iPhone and possibly iPod releases at the very end of the quarter. The rest of the stuff won’t be released until the beginning of the following quarter.

      1. Then 4th quarter gross margins should be a lot lower because of capital costs of setting up production lines for all the new products. It doesn’t make sense to me that it is stable.

      2. The absorption of new product capital is why margins have dropped.

        Apple anticipates and maps expenditures including startup costs associated with new product etc…over a planned stretch of time.

      3. The absorption of new product capital is why margins have dropped.

        Apple anticipates and maps expenditures including startup costs associated with new product etc…over a planned stretch of time.

  2. New product launches cost money. Particularly if distribution is tricky due to high initial demand. And production costs are typically higher in the beginning, but decrease with volume and over time.

  3. The polycarbonate iPhone isn´t a new category or will come at a lower price level, it will be the new entry model with iPhone 4S components in a new casing, with the bigger 4 inch screen, with the lighting connector and the smaller nano SIM card.
    The iPhone 4S in the old casing would be an alien in the new iOS line up and Apple hates to unnecessary fragment the platform.

  4. If Apple does this I’m predicting a huge fall in gross margins for their company. I think this is a mistake.

    That they should try and get the cost of the iPhone down and stay with one new model at a time.

    1. You all think to complicated. Apple development is a lesson in focus and efficiency. Take the logic board from the iPhone 4S and put this in a new polycarbonate casing, add the 5 inch screen from the iPhone 5, which higher price would be widely compensated by the cheaper casing and voila you have a new line up of 4 inch devices at minimal development costs. Just a new casing with a new antenna layout, but no new core components, no new testing with all the mobile provides and you earn all the benefit of a consolidated platform with the same display size, the same connector and the same SIM card.

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