Apple iPhone "5S" set to start production in Q2
Steve Jobs also said to have signed-off on iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 before his death.
Apple is planning a refresh of its iPhone line-up that could see the consumer electronics giant release a cheaper version of its flagship smartphone later this year.
Supply chain sources told the Wall Street Journal that Apple will start production of a new iPhone that is “similar” in size and shape to its current model during the second quarter of 2013.
They sources also claim the firm is in the throes of developing a less expensive version of the device that could be launched as early as the second half of this year.
The report states the four-inch device will use a different casing from the regular iPhone, and could be available in a range of colours.
Rumours linking Apple to the release of a cheaper version of the iPhone have been building for a while.
They reached near fever pitch earlier this year when Reuters pulled a news story based on a Chinese newspaper report in which Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller was quoted as saying his firm had no plans to release a cut-price smartphone.
In other Apple-related news, the company has revealed the next two versions of the device – expected to be the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 – were designed before late CEO Steve Jobs died in 2011.
The revelation came to light following a report in the San Francisco Examiner that detailed the outcome of a meeting between Apple government liaison Michael Foulkes and local district attorney George Gascón about enhancing the security credentials of the iPhone.
According to the report, Gascón has been trying to encourage members of the telco industry to introduce technology that would make smartphones and tablets less attractive to thieves.
However, Foulkes is reported to have dismissed the inclusion of new security features on the iPhone, claiming the next two generations of the device have already been designed.
“[The meeting] was very underwhelming,” said Gascón. “He did most of the talking. It was incredible. He would just go on and on, one subject to the next.
“It was almost like someone who’s been trained in the art of doing a lot of talking and saying nothing.”