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Low-cost iPhone heading to emerging markets this year -- report

Apple plans to launch a new iPhone version designed exclusively for China and emerging markets that could be available in the second half of 2013, according to Digitimes' sources.


Apple is working on a low-cost iPhone for emerging markets around the world, a new report claims.

The company is working on an iPhone for China and emerging markets that would launch in the second half of 2013, Digitimes is reporting, citing unnamed sources in Apple's supply chain. Those sources say that the iPhone will have a large display, but will come with a revamped design and be much cheaper than the company's current handset.

That said, one part of the Digitimes rumor doesn't quite add up: the low-cost iPhone will have a larger screen than the iPhone 5's current 4-inch model, according to the sources. Considering that a larger display would make more sense in a higher-end product, it's possible that the sources are plain wrong -- a scenario that often times plays out with Digitimes' unnamed sources.

Still, this isn't the first time we've heard of the possibility of Apple launching a new, cheaper iPhone. Last week, Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston said he believes Apple could launch an "iPhone Mini at some point over the next three years to address the hundreds of millions of prepaid users worldwide that cannot afford the iPhone."

However, Mawston argues that the success of the iPhone 5 means Apple has no reason to launch a cheaper handset this year. Digitimes' sources say that the device they have seen will ship in the second half of 2013.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek agrees with Digitimes' sources. He said recently that he believes a low-cost iPhone could launch this summer for $200 to $250 but that Apple hasn't given it the go-ahead so far because the company is concerned about the margin it would derive from the sale of a low-end handset.

It's not clear what a lower-cost iPhone might offer consumers. However, Digitimes' sources say that Qualcomm's dual- and quad-core Snapdragon chipsets could find their way into the device.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment on the Digitimes report. We will update this story when we hear back.