In a Wall Street Journal story updated today, Apple has asked its Taiwanese assembler, Hona Hai Precision Industry to begin shipping both versions early next month. The announcement of a two-tiered iPhone is widely rumored to be made September 10, nearly a year after the iPhone 5 launched in San Francisco.
Although Apple has yet to make an announcement, the iPhone iterations have been described as the iPhone 5S and a lower cost model equipped with plastic housing currently dubbed the iPhone Lite or iPhone 5C, as in “cheap” or “color” because the new devices are believed to come in three colors: gold, black and white.
Most reports suggest the so-called iPhone 5S will come with a faster, 64-bit A6 processor, 2GB RAM, a 12 megapixel camera with dual LED flash for lowlight situations, an optional 128 GB storage and improved iOS7 software, including a significant improvement to Apple Maps and fingerprint sensor for user authentication, the world’s first device to offer this valuable feature.
The distinct possibility of adding a lower cost model to the iPhone comes at a critical time as it was widely reported Apple lost significant market share to Google Android, falling to just 13.2 percent from 16.6 at the same time last year. Additionally, the iPad has plunged dramatically in market share in China, to 28 percent, down from 49 percent the previous year.
Prices for the iPhone 5S are expected to be close to current prices for the iPhone 5 - $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 32GB model and $399 for the 64GB model, all with a required wireless service plan. The price for an iPhone Lite remains under broad discussion. However analysts predict for Apple to regain market share, the lower cost model would obviously have to be attractive enough to stray consumers away from Google Android.