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Apple executive Schiller denies reports of a ‘cheap’ iPhone

There’s been much speculation of late about the possibility of Apple launching a cheap iPhone. We’ve had the usual “unnamed sources” offering up information, “people familiar the matter” claiming to know what’s going on, “a person in the supply chain” having seen something of note – you know, the usual.

The latest person to throw some light on the whole cheap iPhone shebang is, for a change, someone very familiar with the matter. And what’s more, we can name him. According to Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of product marketing, cheap smartphones “will never be the future of Apple.”

His words came in an interview with Chinese newspaper Shanghai Evening News, an interview confirmed and translated by The Next Web. Schiller is currently on a visit to the country with Apple boss Tim Cook.

Schiller insisted that with every piece of kit Apple develops, the company uses “only the best technology available. This includes the production pipeline, the Retina display, the unibody design, to provide the best product to the market.”

He continued, “At first, non-smartphones were popular in the Chinese market, now cheap smartphones are more popular and non-smartphones are out. Despite the popularity of cheap smartphones, this will never be the future of Apple’s products. In fact, although Apple’s market share of smartphones is just about 20 percent, we own 75 percent of the profit.”

Still a chance?

While his words don’t unequivocally lay to rest the idea that the Cupertino company is planning to launch a cheap iPhone (you weren’t really expecting an outright denial, were you?), Schiller’s musings appear to go against a number of recent reports from major publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.

Bloomberg, for example, claimed on Wednesday Apple was in the middle of creating a cut-price smartphone with a price tag of between $99 and $149 set for release later this year. It said the device would use “cheaper parts and may be smaller than current models.”

From Schiller’s interview, it seems that while Apple is unlikely to launch any kind of ultra-cheap handset made with low-price components, there is a chance it might, at some point, launch a more affordable phone – cheaper (than the current iPhone) but not cheap – similar to the way it launched it a more affordable iPad (the Mini) without sacrificing quality or performance. For a while before the iPad Mini launched, plenty of analysts expected it’d be priced to compete with the likes of the Kindle Fire or Nexus 7. That didn’t happen.

The cheap-iPhone rumor mill will undoubtedly continue to turn, but after Schiller’s intervention, it’ll be moving a whole lot slower – for the time being at least….

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