The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Apple (AAPL) plans to begin production of a new iPhone in the next three months, setting the stage for a possible launch this summer. The new smartphone — presumably the iPhone 5S — is expected to have the same shape and four-inch screen as the current iPhone 5 and is likely to feature internal hardware upgrades, according to the report, which cites “people familiar with the device’s production.”
Word is that the 5S will look similar to its predecessor but feature a more powerful processor, an improved camera system ; maybe a 10-14MP rear facing camera, and possibly a fingerprint scanner.
Along with the news of the upcoming iPhone, and in line with some previous rumors, the report also said that Apple continues to work with its manufacturing partners in Asia on a cheaper version of the iPhone that could be launched as soon as the second half of this year.
The handset, primarily tailored for consumers in developing countries such as India and China, is expected to retain the 4-inch retina display of the iPhone 5 and likely make use of plastic casing materials. The Journal claims that Apple has been testing “different color shells” for the budget iPhone but that its ultimate plans “remain unclear.”
Apple’s shares closed Tuesday at $429.90 ; down almost 20% so far in FY 2013, and 39% below a high of $705 last September.