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iPhone 5C to cost $400-500, replace iPhone 5, analyst says

The long-rumoured cheap iPhone may not be so cheap after all.

The long-rumoured cheap iPhone may not be quite so affordable after all, as an analyst estimates that the plastic 'iPhone 5C' will cost between 400 and 500 dollars.

That equates to between roughly £255 and £320, though balancing US and UK prices is rarely as simple as a straight currency conversion.

The figure comes via KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple Insider reports, who also claims that the colourful, plastic phone will be touted as a mid-range device, and will replace the iPhone 5.

Apple's entry-level iPhone will become the iPhone 4S, he theorised, with the 2011 smart phone getting a price cut. The iPhone 4 will no longer be on sale, the industry crystal-ball-gazer reckons.

Kuo, who also recently predicted that Apple would introduce a 128GB iPhone, has a reasonable track record -- accurately predicting the specs (if not the release date) of the new Nexus 7 tablet, and correctly claiming that this year's MacBook Air refresh wouldn't be getting a retina display screen.

Another prediction said that Apple will release the super-swanky 'iPhone 5S' in gold -- something that new reports have backed up.

If the so-called iPhone 5C does cost more than expected, that could put a crimp in the plans of phone-fans who were hoping to snap up a bargain-priced Apple smart phone.

Apple is expected to use colourful plastic and rubber buttons in the construction of the phone. If the final price really is higher, Tim Cook and pals could have a harder time convincing fans to love these budget materials.

Would you buy a colourful iPhone? What do you think Apple needs to do to stave off competition from the likes of Samsung? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.