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iPhone 5 mockup front & back

Yes, it’s that old chestnut again. Apple is reportedly still planning to launch a cheaper, smaller iPhone to stave off mounting competition from its Android rivals, an industry analyst has forecast.

Rumours that the tech giant will inevitably bring out a more affordable and compact version of its world-beating kit have been doing the rounds for some time now and don’t look about to quit just yet. At least according to Neil Mawston of Stategy Analytics, the device that’s been long dubbed the iPhone ‘mini’ will be out by next year.

Speaking to CNET, Mawston said: "The iPhone 5 is growing fast and profitably right now, so there is limited incentive for Apple to launch a profit-squeezing 'iPhone Mini' this year.

"We expect the 'iPhone Mini' to be more likely next year, in 2014, when Apple's penetration of the global post-paid smartphone market will be nearing saturation and Apple will be forced to discover fresh growth streams elsewhere."

Mawston explained there are hundreds of millions prepaid users around the world who can’t afford the latest iPhones and are increasingly looking towards cheap Android phones from likes of Samsung.

Of course, one could argue that the premium price point itself is what makes the iPhone so widely coveted. So releasing a cheaper model could potentially do more harm than good in the long run.

Then again, even a smaller and cheaper iPad seemed like a cul-de-sac until it emerged as inarguably one of Apple’s better products in a while. So who’s to say the same couldn’t happen for the iPhone?

Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

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