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.

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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 Cleveland's picture

Donna Cleveland is the Editor in Chief of iPhone Life magazine and is a journalist with ten years of experience in writing, reporting, and producing multimedia content. In her 7 years at iPhone Life, she has produced over 15 in-depth guides and 20 issues of iPhone Life magazine, along with countless articles, podcasts, and blog posts. Aside from managing the editorial team and outside contributors, Donna co-hosts the iPhone Life Podcast, teaches online iPhone educational courses, and enjoys reporting on live Apple events.

Donna began her career as a newspaper reporter before joining the iPhone Life team, where she pairs her penchant for storytelling with her love of Apple products. She's the proud owner of an iPhone 11 Pro and Apple Watch Series 4 and is a defender of AirPods as the best wireless earbuds.

Donna holds a master's degree from the University of Iowa School of Journalism & Mass Communication and earned her undergraduate degree in Media & Communications from Maharishi International University. Her writing has appeared in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Little Village Magazine, Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, the Fairfield Ledger, and the Iowa Source, and she was a researcher for American journalist Claire Hoffman's memoir, Greetings from Utopia Park. She is also the host and executive producer of a feminist podcast, Thread the Needle (