Apple to sell contract-free, $350 iPhone, report says

The $350 model is expected to be the iPhone 3GS, the report says, while adding to the chatter that the next iPhone will be unveiled in August.

Just when you thought you had enough, another iPhone rumor pops up.

Josh Miller/CNET

The latest, courtesy of a story from Boy Genius Report today, has Apple selling a contract-free, $350 iPhone 3GS for the prepaid customer segment. The report also said the next iPhone, which may or may not feature a radical design, will be coming out or announced "by the end of summer, late August-ish."

An Apple representative wasn't immediately available to comment on the validity of the report.

Apple has been looking at ways to expand its potential base of customers and cement its leadership role in the smartphone world. The company has already expanded its distribution with the addition of Verizon Wireless as a carrier partner. But Apple wants to go after the burgeoning prepaid market, one of the few areas of customer growth still left in the wireless industry.

The move comes as Google's Android platform steadily overtakes Apple for smartphone supremacy. The free software is already used by a number of handset manufacturers, allowing it to tackle both the low and high ends of the market.

Related stories:
• Rumor: Apple to bring iPhone to Sprint
• iPhone rumor roundup
• Survey: iPhone leads Android among new buyers

The iPhone has traditionally been considered a high-end or aspirational product. But that changed earlier this year when AT&T began selling the iPhone 3GS for $99 with a two-year contract. A contract-free version of the phone for $350 would appeal to consumers that are increasingly reluctant to commit to pricey and long-term agreements.

In addition to the lower-end iPhone 3GS and the new iPhone, Boy Genius Report said Apple will continue to sell the iPhone 4, allowing it to have a product in each customer segment.

Apple enthusiasts, however, are awaiting the next iPhone, which has seen increasing chatter recently. The latest: a translated report from Sohu.com that claims the iPhone 5 was delayed because of overheating with the A5 processor that powers the device. The International Business Times has a translated story here. The dual-core A5 chip debuted on the iPad 2, but Apple has reportedly been trying to shrink it down to fit into the much smaller iPhone.

 

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