Apple has been riding high on the success of the iPhone range for the last six years, generating huge profits and making shareholders very happy indeed. But in 2013 there have been signs that the momentum is finally beginning to flag, with reports of a budget iPhone surfacing repeatedly as experts predict that Apple is trying to combat competition from low-cost rivals.
The best budget smartphones are produced by companies like Samsung, ZTE and Huawei, each of which launches several new devices at various price points throughout the year. Apple, on the other hand, has all of its eggs in one basket with the annual unveiling of a new iPhone, the act of which turns its older flagship models into second tier devices which are sold at a slightly cheaper rate. However, with the new iPhone Mini release reported to be just around the corner, it is worth assessing whether or not a budget Apple handset can survive and thrive in the modern market.
The iPhone Mini looks likely to feature a more traditional design that harks back to the days of the iPhone 3GS rather than the modern look sported by the iPhone 5. An industry source quoted by BGR this month, who has apparently got his hands on the iPhone Mini ahead of its official unveiling, said that it will be thicker than the iPhone 5 and also feature rounded corners and tapered edges. It is also believed that the new iPhone Mini release will see the phone arrive in a variety of different colours, which suggests that Apple is targeting a younger audience with its more affordable handset.
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Nothing concrete is known about the iPhone Mini’s technical specifications, other than the obvious fact that it will run the new iOS 7 operating system and presumably feature similar components to its stable mates. Some believe that it will be about as powerful as the iPhone 4S which launched back in the autumn of 2011. This means it will be running on hardware that was not quite cutting edge two years ago, which seems about right for a cheap iPhone Mini.
Release & Price
The iPhone Mini price is going to play an important role in the success or failure of the handset, because it needs to be cheap enough to encourage people to purchase it while still being expensive enough to preserve the premium brand image that Apple has built up over the years. Analysts expect that the iPhone Mini could cost around $350-$400, or the equivalent of 225–257 in the UK. Of course British buyers will probably have to put up with a price which is directly transferred over from the US, which means it could cost over 300.
Some sources suggest that the iPhone Mini will be released in the summer, although a more likely launch window is in September or October, when the next-generation flagship iPhone will make its first appearance.
Chance of Success
The big question is whether the iPhone Mini will even be able to succeed in an increasingly tricky marketplace. Apple will obviously be able to sell plenty of these phones in the aftermath of its release hype, but the long term sustainability of this handset will be based on whether consumers actually want a budget iPhone.
The iPhone was conceived as a portable version of the Mac, with all the associated expectations such as a high asking price when compared with equivalently equipped rivals. It might have been sensible to be sceptical about the iPhone Mini’s chances last year, but Apple’s iPad Mini has since shown that there is room for cheaper alternatives to the firm’s flagship devices.
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