Latest Apple Rumor: A Plastic iPhone?

The rumored low-cost version of the iPhone is not expected to have the usual glass or metal body, but now a new piece of news says the casing for the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) smartphone targeted at growing markets may actually be made of plastic.

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Taiwan news website DigiTimes, which is known to be often unreliable, reported that Apple supply chain sources had said the new entry-level iPhone will have its plastic chassis sourced from an unnamed U.S. electronic manufacturer. The idea was to cut costs as much as possible. The publication went on to add that the design may be such that the internal metal sub-structure was visible through the main body. Apple uses an opaque version of Corning’s (NYSE:GLW) Gorilla Glass as a backing on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

Rumors of a cheaper iPhone designed to take on the supremacy of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android-powered devices gathered steam last week and received backing from several Apple-focused analysts. Most reports suggest the device will be launched in late 2013. The phone will reportedly be targeted at markets, such as China and India, where carrier subsidies don’t exist, making the Apple device’s cost prohibitive for most users. In the U.S., the two-generation old iPhone 4 starts at $450 without a carrier contract, while the latest iPhone 5 starts at $649.

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That Apple has lost some of its global market share lately is no secret. At the end of the third quarter last year, the iPhone maker held a 14.6 percent share of the worldwide market, down from a peak of 23 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to IDC. Meanwhile, the market share of rival Samsung (SSNLF.PK) was 31.3 percent in the third quarter of 2012.

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