The budget iPhone is coming. Or the cheap iPhone. Or the iPhone mini.
Whatever Apple decides to call its entry-level effort, it’s now indisputable that work is underway on what will be a landmark device for Cupertino.
This will be its attempt to take on the likes of Nokia’s Asha range, Google’s endless array of low-cost Android phones and Samsung’s myriad cheap Galaxy efforts.
Details remain sketchy, but here are five key facts we already know.
1 It’s got a plastic shell
Leaked components and a slew of supply chain sources have already confirmed that Apple will be ditching the swanky glass shell of the iPhone 5 for something cheaper and more durable.
A [plastic frame is nailed on](/mobiles/news/2013/04/purportedlowcostiphoneplasticrearshellappearsinleakedphoto/_, as it will keep production costs low and ensure it won’t cost the Earth when it reaches the hands of hungry punters in places like China and India.
2 Production has already started
Japanese suppliers are said to have already begun building the budget iPhone.
Numbers are said to be small, but Apple is plotting to crank up its production line in June.
That means there should be plenty of stock come launch. Talking of which...
3 Apple’s priming millions of them
With Foxconn adding 10,000 staff last month and rival supplier Pegatron upping its staffing levels by a mind-blowing 40 per cent in the second half of 2013, it’s fair to say Apple thinks its cheap iPhone will sell by the bucketload.
Tim Cook and co won’t want any issues with demand when the device launches.
This is not a model that consumers will appreciate being drip fed to them. They’ll want it straight away and no messing.
4 It’ll be, um, cheap
Obvious, but the budget iPhone won’t be a pricey model to compete with top-end smartphones.
Rumour has it the cost could be as low as £170 SIM-free. That’s not exactly bargain bucket-level, but it’s enough to ensure it’ll be free on contract while still allowing Apple to maintain its premium brand.
Anything that’s as cheap as the Google Nexus 4 and offers similar functionality should only be welcomed.
5 It’ll be out in autumn
Tim Cook says Apple has some ‘exciting products’ coming in the months between summer and winter.
With production getting up to speed in June and July, expect Cook to use a September or October keynote to out this year’s most anticipated smartphone.
It’s not too much of a stretch to say that a budget iPhone could be a complete game-changer.