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Is a new, cheaper iPhone on the way?

iPhone 5 Screenshot - iPhone 5

Reports that Apple is continuing work on a cheaper iPhone model are resurfacing. The latest comes from The Wall Street Journal, which claims "people briefed on the matter" say a more affordable version of its iPhone could be available as soon as "later this year."

Rumors of Apple's work on a cheaper alternative have been around for years, but according to the report, the plan is progressing. The new iPhone would resemble that of the standard iPhone, with a "different, less-expensive" body. The iPhone 5 is currently housed in an aluminum casing; sources say the new iPhone would have a shell made of polycarbonate plastic to help lower the cost. Other parts of the phone could remain the same or be recycled from older iPhone models.

So why cater to us poor folk? As it stands now, Apple's firm grasp in the smartphone market is starting to slip. Low costing rivals powered by Google's Android operating system are gaining market share. Samsung's marketshare rose from 8.8% to a whopping 31.8% from the third quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2012. Meanwhile, Apple's has slipped from its peak 23% in Q4 2011 to 14.6% in Q1 2012.

The troubling trend could have forced Apple into exploring options for a cheaper alternative. Several tech sits estimate the new, cheaper iPhone will cost around $99. The iPhone 5, which launched last fall, currently sits at $199, while two-year old iPhone 4S sells for $99. The iPhone 4 is free. Keep in mind, these prices are all provided the consumer signs on to a two-year contract with a wireless carrier. Without a contract the iPhone 5 starts at $649 in the U.S. and can cost even more overseas.

This is system falls flat. In many overseas countries, carriers don't help cover the cost of the phone. This is where the Android-based smartphones, which offer similar capabilities but cost much less, are seeing the most success.

Right now, I'm torn between my next upgrade, so I'll ask you readers: iPhone or Android?

Matt-liebl-profile
Matt Liebl You can follow Senior News Editor Matt Liebl on Twitter @Matt_GZ. He likes games, sports, musicals, and his adorable dog, Wrigley. And his wife.
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