Would you buy a 'cheaper' iPhone? (Poll)

Rumor has it we'll see a low-cost iPhone as early as this summer. But let's get real: it's not the price of the phone itself that's a problem.

As CNET's David Carnoy reported earlier today, the Wall Street Journal is stoking the rumor-mill fire with news that a smaller, cheaper iPhone could ship as soon as this summer.

My take: so what? Sure, I'd love to see an iPhone that's thinner and lighter than the iPhone 4--but let's not fool ourselves into believing it's going to be cheap.

See, much as I'm a fan of discount tech, the price of the iPhone isn't what bugs me. It's a sweet, sophisticated piece of hardware, well worth a couple hundred bucks.

No, the problem isn't the price of the hardware: it's the price of the service. AT&T and Verizon charge around $70 per month minimum for a required two years of service. That means the phone will end up costing you $1,680 at the very least.

So let's say the iPhone Mini, iPhone Nano, or whatever it ends up being called is priced at $99. Or $49. Or even $0. Assuming the service plans remain the same (and there's no indication they're going to change), you're saving only a couple hundred bucks, max.

I like saving a couple hundred bucks as much as anybody (probably more, in fact). I just think it's a mistake to hype a "cheaper" iPhone that's really not.

What do you think? Would a sub-$100 price tag make a difference in your purchase plans? Or do you agree that we need cheaper service, not cheaper hardware? Vote in our poll, then share your thoughts in the comments.

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