As Apple tries to keep its hardware efforts firmly under wraps, those pesky Chinese websites keep bombarding us with potential images of components, obscure plastic elements and other teases. The latest snippet is some colorful cases for the rumored low-budget iPhone.

Plotting the Future

With the world convinced that the next proper iPhone will arrive in September, a year after the iPhone 5 launch, the focus is on the mystery budget version. This new device could provide a healthy boost for iPhone sales, as the iPad mini did for Apple's tablet sales. According to some, the second device could follow just weeks later, and the latest photos out of China suggest that a cheaper device with plastic casing is on the way, or this could just be yet another hoax. 

By reducing the bill of materials, and offering a more fun design, Apple can sell the phone for less in emerging markets like India, China (beyond the middle classes that flock to each launch), and to smaller territories and phone networks. With Apple only selling its products through some 250 telcos, compared to around 800 (according to BI) that support Samsung's products, it could eat into its bitter rival's market share lead. 

That would make for a more competitive landscape and also threaten the likes of Nokia who's mid-market focus has kept it going as it searches for high-end success. The iPhone 6 (although it is unlikely to be called that) might not be Apple's most dramatic product but it could be rather exciting in its own way. 

Learning Opportunities


The Hunt for Red Cases In October

These photos came from a Chinese source and have rattled around the world in record time, with a less interesting shot showing the shell's innards, suggesting a degree of authenticity in these prototype designs. 

Apple's recent iOS 7 color scheme might seem a lot more at home on these brightly colored devices and with a release date a few weeks after the main iPhone, Apple will have covered the bases across the market, and also leave some room to cram in a retina-class iPad mini before Christmas.

Don't expect much else from Apple before 2014, with the iWatch gaining solidity by the week, but what a year that could turn out to be, as the company sees the end-of-the-line in major leaps in phones and tablets.