The device, which would debut in late 2013 "at the earliest," is part of an effort to attract more customers from developing markets, Bloomberg reported, citing an unnamed source. Among them, Apple is particularly eyeing China.
Last December, CEO Tim Cook said the country is "a very important market for us." At the time, Apple had sold more than 2 million units of the iPhone in China, setting a record for best first-weekend sales in the country.
SEE ALSO: Apple Unveils iPhone 5, FinallyA lower-cost version of the iPhone would also help Apple compete with Google's Android phones, which are available in a wide range of prices.
As one of the mobile market's pricier smartphones, the iPhone 5 starts at $199 for 16GB of storage with a two-year contract. There are also 32GB and 64GB models available for $299 and $399, respectively. In terms of its older phones, Apple now offers the 8GB iPhone 4 for free, while the 16GB iPhone 4S costs $99 (both requiring two-year contracts).
The company has been developing a more affordable phone since "at least" February 2011, Bloomberg said. It has spoken to one or more major U.S. wireless carriers about its plans, the newspaper added.
Earlier reports suggested that the lower-cost iPhone would look like a standard iPhone 5, but made with cheaper materials. Polycarbonate would replace the aluminum shell, and other components could be sourced from parts designed for older iPhones.
What do you think of the rumored cheaper iPhone's price range? Would you buy one? Tell us in the comments below.
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