updated 10:55 am EDT, Mon July 18, 2011
Could fill crucial gap in iPhone sales
Long proposed by analysts, a cheaper, prepaid version of the iPhone will be available later this year, claims an "incredibly solid source" for BGR. The device will allegedly cost no more than $350 without a contract. It's suggested however that the model could be the two-year-old iPhone 3GS, which is already $49 tied to a two-year AT&T contract.
In any case the same source claims that a flagship iPhone -- whether an iPhone 5 or just a "4S" -- will be launching or "at least announced by the end of Summer, late August-ish." The person speculates that the external design of the hardware will likely remain the same, since third-party cases based on leaks have yet to emerge; at the same time, Apple has reportedly been taking a tougher approach to keeping specifications secret. The iPhone 4 will allegedly stay on the market, creating low-, mid- and high-end iPhone tiers.
The lack of a prepaid option has often been seen as a major gap in Apple's iPhone strategy. Aside from the many Americans being unwilling to buy an expensive smartphone on contract, prepaid phones could satisfy international audiences, which often try to avoid contracts altogether. Lower prices could also increase appeal in poorer nations like China and India.