Can Apple Pull Off a $99 iPhone? New Lineup Expected This Year

In today’s mobile news roundup: Apple plans to launch a cheaper iPhone; Panasonic updates pair of durable tablets; and T-Mobile to offer unlimited data without plan.

Apple plans on cheaper iPhone

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Apple is planning on releasing a cheaper iPhone as the demand for their expensive devices start to falter.  WSJ’s sources claim that the cheaper iPhone would still resemble the current iPhone, but less expensive components would be used, such as polycarbonate plastic instead of the aluminum housing used in the iPhones today.  The cheaper iPhone would come in under the current $199 price tag (with 2-year contract), competing with rivals at the $99 or $149 price points.

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But Apple’s explored this idea before, yet five years after its initial launch, the iPhone has yet to see a cheaper sibling.  The best chance to pay less for an iPhone is to wait for an older model to go on sale.  A cheaper iPhone would be a significant departure from Apple’s longstanding strategy of targeting high-end markets, but with the iPhone making up the largest portion of Apple’s revenue, the company needs to do something to address the growing competition from Samsung, Lenovo and others.

According to the WSJ sources, the cheap iPhones will be introduced later this year but Apple’s spokeswoman refused to comment on the rumor.

With more analysis on the rumored iPhone is Senior Editor Kristen Nicole, who appeared on this morning’s News Desk program with Kristin Feledy:

Panasonic unveils pair of durable tablets

At CES 2013, Panasonic unveiled two new tablets designed to withstand even your worst day, i.e. getting mad and throwing anything you get your hands on.  The Toughpad FZ-G1 is a 10″ Windows 8 Pro tablet while the Toughpad JT-B1, is a 7″ Android tablet.

The FZ-G1 features 3rd Generation Intel Core i5-3437U vPro 1.9GHz up to 2.9GHz with Intel Turbo Boost Technology, 128-256GB SSD, 4-8GB RAM, optional micro SDXC, MIL-STD-810G, 4′ drop, IP65, 14° to 122°F (operational temp range), 10.1″ display that is sunlight viewable, touch screen and active digitizer, 800nit, WUXGA (1920×1200), 8 hours of battery life and is user-replaceable, weighs 2.43lbs, Bluetooth V4.0, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, optional embedded 4G LTE or 3G and full size USB 3.0, HDMI, optional micro SDXC, Full size USB 2.0, wired LAN, true serial port or dedicated GPS.

The Jt-B1 features TI OMAP4460 1.5GHz Dual core processor, 16GB ROM, 1GB RAM, micro SDHC, MIL-STD-810G, 5′ drop, IP65, 14° to 122°F (operational temp range), 7″ display that is daylight viewable, 500nit, WSVGA (1024 x 600), 1.3MP front facing camera with fixed focus, 13MP rear camera with auto focus and LED light, 8 hours of battery life – Large 5,720mAh battery (user-replaceable), weighs 1.2lbs and has Bluetooth V4.0, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, optional embedded 4G LTE + 3G and Micro USB.

T-Mobile to offer unlimited data without plan

T-Mobile announced four separate releases yesterday, which involved the company being the Major League Baseball’s Official Wireless Sponsor and their continued enhancement of LTE, HSPA+ and HD Voice.  But the other two announcements might be the highlights of the event.  T-Mobile also announced that they would make 4G connections available for laptops and tablets, such as the HP Pavilion dm1 and Dell Inspiron 14z Ultrabook, and others, equipped with Qualcomm’s Gobi modem chip.

And finally T-Mobile will be offering an unlimited plan which includes voice, message and data for only $70 per month, and the great thing about it is that users won’t be tied to any contract to avail of this plan.  Now all we need is an iPhone…