iPhone Life magazine

Is this Apple's 'Budget' iPhone? [PICS]

The rumored low-cost iPhone is more tangible than ever with these high-definition renderings of the device, dubbed “iPhone lite” by the images’ anonymous sources.

The renderings corroborate many of the rumors circulating in many media sites, such as a report from the Wall Street Journal Tuesday saying the low-cost iPhone is in development, will have a 4-inch display, and a plastic shell. WSJ predicted the iPhone 5S will be released in July and the budget iPhone in the second half of the year.

The renderings are based on 3D digital scans from a factory in China. According to iPhone Life’s sources, the factory has contacts at Foxconn and an excellent track record, predicting the release of past Apple products with 100 percent accuracy.

The images depict a device identical to an iPhone 5 from the front, but curved in the back like an iPod touch. It has several other features of the iPhone 5 as well, such as a lightning port and a speaker grill at the bottom.

While some rumors suggest the casing could be ceramic, iPhone Life’s sources believe it will be plastic. As a low budget item, estimated to be in the $300 price range, they didn't believe Apple would experiment with new materials and technology. They expect it will be 3G without a Retina display, both for the sake of cost and to differentiate it from the company's more expensive phones.

According to the factory providing the scans, Apple is reusing some parts from the iPhone 4S, such as its A5 chips.

While rumors suggest the plastic casing might come in a variety of colors, the “iPhone lite” artists predicted Apple would stick with its black and white phone aesthetic.

Not all market analysts agree as to Apple’s strategy for releasing a budget iPhone. Many believe the company is trying to garner a new part of the market that currently can’t afford iPhones, such as China and India where iPhones are unsubsidized. Other analysts say it could have a negative impact within Apple's current demographic, with new shoppers opting for the lower cost version over more expensive models.

iPhone Life's sources pointed out another possibility entirely, saying Apple could go in a completely different direction with the anticipated device. They say perhaps the “iPhone lite” renderings are not of an iPhone at all, but instead of a next generation iPod touch with a sim slot.

A new iPod touch could target a younger demographic that primarily uses smartphones for text messaging, Instagram, Tweets, and Facebook. And users could still make phone calls via Wi-Fi.

If that were the case, Apple could avoid the problem of having the budget device compete directly with the iPhone 5 and its other more expensive models. It could explain the device’s rumored price point, and also the different colored shells Apple uses for its iPods.

While it’s still unclear exactly what features the device-to-be has in store for us, these images make it easy to imagine how an "iPhone lite" might feel resting the palm of your hand.

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Donna Schill Cleveland's picture
Donna Schill Cleveland is an associate editor at iPhone Life magazine. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and earned her bachelor’s degree in media and communications from Maharishi University of Management. Before she joined iPhone Life, Donna worked as a staff writer for a daily newspaper. Raised by a family of tech enthusiasts, she shares her love of storytelling with a weakness for Apple products. While away from her desk, she enjoys travel, gardening and yoga.