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Cheap iPhone 12 could arrive in 2021 — but without one key feature

(Image credit: Apple)

The iPhone 12 will come in enough flavors to make Baskin-Robbins proud when Apple releases its next flagship phone later this year. It was assumed there would be four versions of the iPhone 12, however, a new report suggests a fifth "budget-friendly" phone could arrive without one major feature.

Apple might release a cheaper version of the iPhone 12 without 5G connectivity. The phone would rely on a 4G connection, according to a Wedbush Securities note written by analysts Daniel Ives, Strecker Backe and Ahmad Khalil, as reported by Business Insider

The firm originally predicted a mix of 4G and 5G iPhones arriving in the fall but changed its stance after examining supply chains. It now thinks there will be several 5G iPhones arriving in the fall and a cheaper 4G model set for an early 2021 release, possibly in February.

As you'd expect, the 4G-only phone would be cheaper than the 5G-enabled devices set to launch in September. Considering it won't launch with the rest of the iPhone 12 family, this mysterious device could be the successor to the iPhone SE. Then again, Business Insider was told that this non-5G version could go for around $800, making it a mid-range phone by today's expensive standards. 

If that price is accurate, then this phone could simply be a 4G version of the iPhone 12 Pro or 12 Pro Max, which are expected to cost well above $1,000. Selling a 4G version of a flagship phone is an interesting tactic but it makes practical sense. Not everyone needs a 5G phone, especially those in rural areas who live nowhere near the few 5G antennas scattered throughout the US.

"Price points will be aggressive as Apple goes after their broader customer base," Ives told Business Insider. "Especially in a recession, in a COVID-19 backdrop, they need to make sure they're hitting all price categories."

Previous leaks claim there will be four new iPhone models, a budget-friendly 5.4-inch iPhone 12, 6.1-inch iPhone 12 Max and iPhone 12 Pro models, and a 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Max Pro.