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iPhone nano could be on the way this summer with affordable price tag

Amid rumours of the iPad 2, iPhone 5 and even the iPad 3, there's now speculation that Apple could be working on a cheaper, smaller version of its flagship smartphone: an iPhone nano.

Apple is considering launching an 'iPhone nano' this summer, with a smaller size and cheaper price tag than the current iPhone. The device could cost as little as $200 in the US without an operator contract -- equivalent to just under £125.

Bloomberg broke the news last night, before TechCrunch weighed in with its own sources confirming the rumour. Apple, naturally, has stayed mum on the matter. According to Bloomberg, a prototype iPhone nano exists, and while a launch date in the middle of this year has been floated, there's still every chance the device may be "delayed or scrapped".

Bloomberg's source claims the prototype is a third smaller than the iPhone 4, and has no physical Home button. The lower price would be due to the fact that the processor, display and other innards will be the same as the current model, rather than the more advanced components that will be used in the iPhone 5.

Even more intriguing: the report claims Apple is working on a 'universal SIM' technology, which would let iPhone users pick and choose from operator networks without having to swap SIM cards in and out. Hence the ability to sell any iPhone nano without a contract attached.

The timing of the rumour's publication -- and in a reputable business journal too -- raised our eyebrows. It came hours before Nokia unveiled its new partnership with Microsoft this morning, to make Windows Phone handsets and work on future development for Microsoft's smart-phone OS.

Don't forget, either, that the Wall Street Journal's seemingly well-sourced iPad 2 story earlier this week came just before HP unveiled its TouchPad tablet. Call us conspiracy theorists if you like, but the timing doesn't seem entirely coincidental -- is Apple placing these stories as spoilers? Is it working?