Rumour: Apple working on cut-price mini iPhone

Rumours that Apple is working on a cheap mini iPhone are once again doing the rounds of the Internet.

Is it just us, or does a bored tech hack somewhere on the planet revive this tired old twaddle every six months or so?

This time around it's Bloomberg taking a seat on the silly step, and insisting that Apple is so desperate for cash that it's prepared to dilute its own incredibly lucrative market, and denigrate its own status as a premium brand, in order to flog cheap iPhones to people who can't pass a cell phone credit check.

While there is definitely a market there - one insider source from the Carphone Warehouse has told us that something like 95 per cent of the people who come into the store wanting an iPhone go home with something else after failing to suitably impress the credit-checking agencies - it's not a market in which Apple has any interest.

Quoting 'people who have been briefed on the plans', the Bloomberg report says that Apple is planning a number of new versions of the ubiquitous iPhone, at least one of which will be smaller, cheaper, and lose the 'home' button.

The mysterious secret source insisted that he or she had actually seen prototypes of the diminutive device, which the report guesses could sell for less than $200 without a contract, and with a multi-carrier universal sim card, despite using the same internal hardware and a smaller version of the current Retina Display.

Aside from the fact that more than 200,000 iOS apps would have to be retooled, and removing the home button and using a slightly smaller display is unlikely to reduce the component bill by the 70 per cent that would be required to meet a $200 price tag, we just can't envisage Apple bucking what is a firmly-entrenched trend.

Steve Jobs has publicly announced that seven-inch tablets are too small to be of any practical use. And we reckon he probably feels the same way about teeny weeny phones, as the chubby-fingered and myopic among us will agree.

As much as Apple would love to see an iPhone in the hands of everyone on the planet, we can't see the Cupertino company sacrificing its healthy slice of the airtime contract pie, or its reassuringly expensive exclusivity, in order to obtain wider usage by the great unwashed.