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iPhone 5S plans denied by Apple's Phil Schiller

Apple has surprised the press by officially commenting on the recent rumours surrounding a planned low-price iPhone model, dubbed the iPhone 5S, which would ditch the traditional glass and aluminium casing for a cheaper plastic version housing cut-down components.

Speaking to a Chinese newspaper, Apple's vice president of global marketing Phil Schiller denied rumours that his company is planning to go down-market with the launch of a cut-price iPhone. "Some manufacturers use cheap smartphones as a replacement for feature phones, but this is not Apple's product development direction," Schiller explained in an interview, claiming that Apple will concentrate on making the best devices it can rather than worrying about new ways to grab market share from lower-priced rivals - many selling devices running Google's Android platform.

Asked directly about possible plans to launch multiple devices aimed at subtly different market segments, Schiller was clear: "We are not like other companies, releasing multiple products in one breath then pinning their hopes on one single product to gain the favour of consumers." Schiller's comments, however, are somewhat disingenuous: as well as its flagship and iPad 4 products, the company also sells the iPad Mini, the older iPad 2, the iPhone 4S and the somewhat outdated iPhone 4 through its official stores - using the older devices to offer an alternative for those who find the asking price of the latest and greatest gadgets a little too steep.

Little of what Schiller said in the interview could be construed as a direct denial: while he stated that the company wouldn't be making a "cheap smartphone," he didn't say it wouldn't make a "cheaper smartphone" - one which is still priced at the top-end of the market, but which could provide an alternative to previous-generation products for those on a more restrictive budget.

With a new product announcement expected from Apple in March, we may not have long to wait to see whether Schiller is being honest or evasive in his phraseology.

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