Budget iPhone: News, rumours, specs, price and release date

Rumours have been growing for that Apple is preparing a cheaper, budget iPhone 5c launch alongside the iPhone 5S later this year. T3 has been looking at the evidence to see what’s what.

 

Update: The affordable Apple iPhone 5c has finally been unveiled. It sports a plastic chassis and comes in a range of colours to match the new iOS 7. Check our our iPhone 5c preview: Hands-on...

Apple's iPhone event will be happening tomorrow evening and T3.com will be covering the event live. Head over to our Apple iPhone launch: Live blog page for up-to-the-minute coverage of Cupertino's keynote.

While the iPhone 5S will undoubtedly be Apple’s next flagship upgrade, many believe Cupertino has been quietly developing a cheaper alternative ready for the budget market.

This new handset would give Apple access to an even wider customer base, as well as challenging the likes of Samsung and Nokia in the emerging markets.

Unsurprisingly, nothing official has emerged from Apple regarding any release date or price but that hasn’t stopped the internet from circulating rumour after rumour. So, we’ve collected up as much of the information as possible and collected it all here for you.
 

Budget iPhone: Name

Several monikers have been bandied around for Apple’s new handset with the two front-runners being iPhone mini (following the iPad mini trend) and iPhone lite.

However, a recent image leak from Chinese iPhone site WeiPhone appears to show packaging for the new handset labeled iPhone 5c.

The case appears to be made of plastic. The only image is of white boxes. It has been suggested by some commentators that the boxes may come in the colour of the selected iPhone.

It is currently unclear what the ‘c’ stands for. T3’s best guesses is that it could stand for colour or polycarbonate, which the phone’s back is believed to be made of.
 

Budget iPhone: Specs and design

Although specifications haven’t been much discussed for the budget iPhone, it’s unlikely to be offering the A6X processor currently found in the iPad 4 or the A7 chip rumoured for the iPhone 5S.

Instead, we may see it arriving with the same A6 processor currently found in the iPhone 5 – or possibly even the A5 processor from the iPhone 4S. Even so, we’d expect Apple to stay with the 16, 32 or 64GB storage options, with the likelihood of dropping the 64GB option to save costs.

What is expected is that the budget iPhone will run Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 7, giving access to the latest software features and apps.

Much more attention has been given to the design of the iPhone lite. Various leaks have hinted that the handset will utilise a polycarbonate chassis that is significantly cheaper to produce than the iPhone 5S’s all-metal frame.

The consensus is that the budget iPhone will have the same 4-inch screen as the iPhone 5 and curved corners that blend the current iPhone design with that of the old iPhone 3GS. According to French site NoWhereElse, the iPhone lite will also come in a range of colours, similar to the iPod Touch. So far, we believe those colours are red, blue, white, yellow and light green.



The bottom of the case features the 3.5m headphone input, a Lightning port and four holes for the speaker.   

It has also been rumoured that the cheap iPhone will still incorporate a camera and a flash – although the megapixel count and any additional features are still unknown.

The clearest evidence yet that Apple is manufacturing this new device is a video posted on YouTube by a user called DetroitBORG who appears to have got hold of a prototype:


Here at T3.com we’ve put together our own 3D render of what we reckon the iPhone 5C could look like when it arrives. Have a gander at the video below for the result:

 

Budget iPhone: Camera

Speculation has recently shifted from the so called iPhone 5c being a budget iPhone aimed at the bottom end of the market, to it being more of a mid-range device.

A Chinese website has posted pictures of what are claimed to be iPhone 5c components. Among them is what is claimed to be the rear camera for Apple's budget iPhone.

If genuine, then it suggests that the iPhone 5c will come with a eight megapixel camera – the same as the one found in the current iPhone 5. If true, it backs up the claims that the budget iPhone won't be budget at the expense of features.
 

Budget iPhone: Price

Given that this is meant to be a budget device from Apple, the price is one of the hottest talking points. At the moment, Apple’s budget offering runs to a 16GB iPhone 4S for £449 or an 8GB iPhone 4 for £319.

Likewise, the budget iPhone will be looking to take on the lower-cost Android handsets such as the 8GB Nexus 4 - which costs £239.

Taiwanese site Apple Daily believes a 16GB iPhone lite will go on sale for around $349 (£230) while the 32GB model will set you back $449 (£292).

Obviously, these prices are far from confirmed but, as a ballpark, they would certainly make the iPhone lite a winner with the budget conscious. Importantly, it’d also undercut the £380 HTC One mini and the £320 Samsung Galaxy S4 mini.
 

Budget iPhone: Release date

Most sources seem to agree that the iPhone lite will be revealed at the same time as the iPhone 5S – which is to say, sometime in the autumn, with September and October pegged as likely dates.

According to iPhone rumour site iFun, the actual date for the reveal of the budget iPhone will be September 6, with the product going on sale immediately. The date is a full two weeks earlier than Apple’s iPhone 5 launch last year.

Meanwhile, CE: The Magazine, and online tech blog, seems to feel the handset will be unveiled at a September 18 event.

While we can’t say for sure exactly when the iPhone lite, or iPhone 5c, is going to break cover, we’ll update you as soon as we hear anything new.

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