Last week, Jeremy Horwitz of iLounge provided some tantalizing details surrounding Apple’s next-gen iPhone 5S. As expected, the device will look like the current iPhone 5, albeit with a larger rear flash, and rumor has it a 13 megapixel camera from Sony. Horwitz also noted that Apple is indeed working on a budget iPhone to target emerging markets.
Following up on that report, Horwitz today provided some more details regarding the rumored low-cost iPhone that Apple is expected to launch alongside the iPhone 5S later this year.
From the front, the new iPhone looks almost identical to the iPhone 5—the same exact shape, with the same sensor, camera, and button arrangement. The 1136 x 640 screen isn’t a surprise, but will be a nice step up in specs for the lowest-cost iPhone. Rather than making the display flush with the enclosure, as it was in the plastic iPhone 3G/3GS, the front glass sticks out a little, just as it does with the iPhone 5 and iPod touch. Despite the shift to plastic for the rest of the enclosure, our sources believe that Apple will continue to use Gorilla Glass for this model’s screen.
Differences become more obvious when the new iPhone is turned on the side. The circular volume buttons of the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5 will shift to elongated, pill-shaped designs closer to the iPod touch and iPhone 3G/3GS.
With China a key growth market for Apple, Horwtiz notes that the aforementioned iPhone model is being developed with China in mind, and in particular China Mobile. The annual salary in China is about $3,000 a person and consequently the normal priced iPhone is clearly out of the price range for many folks there. A cheaper and thus more economical iPhone model would allow Apple to target these consumers while also protecting their valuable margins.
Apple will save money on the device by utilizing a plastic chasis as opposed to the glass and metal enclosure currently utilized by the iPhone.
As for dimensions of this lower cost iPhone, Horwitz claims that it will be about one half millimeter taller, a half millimeter wider, and a half millimeter thicker.
Look wise, Horwitz writes that the device will resemble the iPod classic in shape.
Apple’s budget housing looks closest to the iPod classic in shape, though not in materials. Unlike the plastic iPhone 3G/3GS, which featured soft curves on all sides, the budget iPhone’s curves start and end at flat surfaces, so each side and the back are flat. This seems like a trivial change, until you realize that it allows Apple to use flat rather than curve-matched parts: the right side has a flat, centered SIM card tray just like the iPhone 5’s, while all of the buttons and ports are on flat rather than curved surfaces. A flat-backed iPhone won’t rock on a flat surface when it vibrates, either…
In summary, the budget iPhone will look a lot like an iPhone 5 from the front, an iPod classic from the side, and an iPod touch 5G on the bottom—only made from plastic rather than glass or metal. It won’t make any bold departures from past Apple designs, but then, it’s supposed to be an inexpensive iPhone, and achieves that goal pretty much as expected.