NYT: Apple planning a cheaper, but not a smaller iPhone

iPhone 5Just a few days ago, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg seemed pretty sure that a smaller, cheaper iPhone was in the works, possibly slated for a summer release. Now, The New York Times has stepped in and effectively put the kibosh on rumors of a diminutive iPhone — even though a less expensive iPhone may yet see the light of day.

Citing anonymous sources who had been briefed on Apple’s plans, The Times said that Apple will not pursue a smaller iPhone because “a smaller device would not necessarily be much cheaper to manufacture” and “because it would be more difficult to operate.”

A smaller iPhone would also force developers to work with more limited space and likely require many to adapt their apps to function on a reduced screen — a slippery slope towards the software fragmentation that Steve Jobs finds so irksome about Android.

However, even if a iPhone Nano is a pipedream, a cheaper iPhone may still become a reality. According to the report, Apple is working on bringing down the cost of the future generation of the iPhone to make it more affordable and more competitive with the pricing of Android smartphones.

“Although the innards of the phone, including memory size or camera quality, could change to offer a less expensive model, the size of the device would not vary,” said an unnamed person quoted in The Times’ article who “worked on multiple versions of the device.”

It’s not clear if Apple is working on a more affordable iPhone model in addition to the anticipated iPhone 5, or if the iPhone 5 will simply be less expensive than what we’ve come to expect from Apple’s latest and greatest smartphone.

One thing that we’ve heard rumored before is that the Apple is planning an overhaul of its MobileMe service; The Times suggests that may very well happen. A new MobileMe may permit more data and media to be stored in the cloud, thereby reducing the need for pricey flash storage. Apple may also drop the $99 annual subscription fee it currently charges and offer MobileMe for free.

Apple is also allegedly working on broadening the iPhone’s appeal by making it more friendly to voice commands as a way of offering an alternative to the touchscreen keyboard for performing basic operations.

As for all the other rumors circulating around the iPhone 5? Well, we’re sure we’ll be hearing more in the days and weeks ahead. Analysts expect that the we will see the launch of the new iPhone this summer.

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