Apple has previously announced that they are planning to release a budget iPhone for the masses and although this may sound like a good idea, a recent article by ZDNet suggests otherwise. According to the article, the broad generalization hand-waves over a few subtleties and that is the fact that cheap iPhones are hard to sell for Apple.
Apple's previous budget phone
The first instance could be the iPhone 5C which was also unveiled right beside the more expensive iPhone 5S way back in September 2013, although it was a good phone, Apple then shifted three iPhone 5S handsets for every iPhone 5C sold.
The initial plan was to launch with 16GB and 32GB capacities respectively and after a few months, Apple then released an 8GB version. The previous 16GB and 32GB versions were then discontinued on September of 2014 while the 8GB version was then abandoned after a year.
After this incident, Apple then released the iPhone SE on March of 2016 and you might as well say that this model replaced the iPhone 5C, but the truth is, it actually replaced the iPhone 5S. The storage capacity started at 16GB as well as 64GB, but after a year, these were then replaced with 32GB and 128GB capacities. The first iPhone SE was then discontinued in September of 2018.
Cheap Apple iPhones are hard to sell
The circulating truth is that although there is much excitement on tech media for these cheap iPhones, the actual customers just aren't that interested. When Apple previously released unit sales data for the iPhones, it was seen shown that customers just seemed even more interested with expensive handsets.
It is well believed that the iPhone is a premium brand, and releasing a cheaper version of something premium might just cause too much dissonance. The real reason might simply be that cheap iPhones are not actually that cheap. The non-contract iPhone 5C first started at $549 for only 16GB while the 16GB iPhone SE was sold at $399.
It seems that Apple's standards of cheap is far from the commonly shared perception of what a cheap phone is. Another existing factor is that the cheaper end of the entire smartphone market is already packed with other brands and manufacturers which is why $400 buys quite a selection of smartphones where the iPhone is just trying to compete with.
The thing that has chanced ever since the release of the previous iPhone 5C and the iPhone SE is that the price of the top of the range iPhone has now broken the $1,000 barrier, which is why the $399 iPhone SE 2 might actually seem a bit more tempting.
At the end of the day, the real question is do people really want cheap iPhones from the premium Apple brand? Apple might be trying to diversify its customer reach but this might create some sort of confusion for the market.