It almost seems a given in the media that Apple is putting the final touches on a cheaper version of the iPhone. The main reason for the possible existence of such a beast is simple: A healthy portion of iPhone sales involve the two less expensive models, the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4s. They were introduced in 2010 and 2011, which may be an eternity in the smartphone business. They have a Retina display, but do not support the speedier LTE networking protocol that’s spreading around the world.
But, with a two-year contract, you can get the iPhone 4 free; the iPhone 4s is $99; even less from some carriers. Of course, that’s with a contract. Without a contract, expect to pay over $400, which is a deal breaker for tens of millions of people around the world who want a classy smartphone but don’t have access, or can’t qualify, for a subsidized plan. Here is where Google’s Android OS asserts its dominance. You want cheap? There’s an Android phone for you. It may not be a very good phone, but it’s affordable.
Officially Apple simply says that they don’t make junk, at least when anyone comments on the subject. But that doesn’t mean Apple doesn’t make something that’s cheap. Consider the $49 iPod shuffle. It’s not the least expensive, but it’s tiny, elegant, colorful, and affordable. I suppose you could also call the Mac mini, which starts at $599, cheap for a Mac, but there are lots of PCs that sell for less. On the other hand, today’s Mac mini is powerful enough for people who might have selected a more expensive model just a few years ago.
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