Entry-level Apple iPhone to sell for as low as US$99?

Following rumours yesterday suggesting that Apple was readying an entry-level iPhone, Bloomberg is the latest to add fuel to the fire. According to “people familiar with the plans”, the device would be aimed at emerging markets. But it could also make its way to more mature markets as Apple has reportedly already spoken to one top U.S. wireless carrier about it.

The report adds that Apple is reportedly looking at a retail price between US$99 and US$149 for such a device. It’s not clear whether this price includes carrier subsidies although that appears to be the most plausible theory at this time. Given that an unlocked iPhone 5 starts at US$649, Apple would likely have to make substantial hardware compromises to get the price down this low (without subsidies) and still maintain the profit margins it is used to. Conversely, it already sells the previous-generation iPhone 4S for US$99 albeit with a contract.

As for the device itself, it would use cheaper parts (including a polycarbonate body?) and would likely be smaller than current models. It could also be designed to work on multiple wireless networks.

Apple will launch the new smartphone late this year “at the earliest,” suggesting again that Apple is not yet fully committed to this project.

Read more: Bloomberg