iPhone Nano on the way to China first?

There are differing views on whether a small, low-cost iPhone is on tap from Apple. One analyst thinks that not only is one on the way, but that China will get it first.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
2 min read
A smaller, cheaper iPhone could hit China later this year, now that two companies appear to have gotten contracts to make its chips. Apple

More iPhone Nano rumors are surfacing out of China, as some are starting to wonder whether the much-rumored diminutive iPhone will ship in that region only.

Digitimes picked up on a report from the Economic Daily News that chip makers Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) are set to get the contract to make chips for an iPhone Nano, which was described as a "low-cost entry-level" iPhone. TSMC and UMC are perhaps the two most well-known chip foundries in the business, and are perhaps getting ready to execute Apple's first iPhone chip design put together by the P.A. Semi team.

No other details were reported. But what of the iPhone Nano itself? Rumors first appeared about such a device in 2007, shortly after the launch of the original iPhone, but quickly died. They were revived late last year when an iPhone case manufacturer added an "iPhone Nano" category to its products.

There's a theory that the real iPhone Nano is merely the knock-off versions sold in markets in China and other places in Asia, which has proven so popular that demand has grown for cases. But Brian Marshal of Broadpoint AmTech expects Apple to launch such a device at some point this year, and thinks Asia might be the first place it arrives.

Marshal said his checks with suppliers show that AT&T has not received the device yet for testing, which he believes indicates that China could be the likely launch venue for the iPhone Nano and a new Apple relationship with China Mobile or another carrier. If this iPhone really does exist, a June launch would make sense given the pattern set in 2007 and 2008.