Apple iPhone 8

Cut-price iPhone 9 launch imminent as cases arrive at retailers

Apple's low-cost iPhone could be announced in the next few days

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It looks like Apple's long-awaited, cut-price iPhone is almost ready to go on sale, as cases begin arriving at retailers.

Aside from lowering the price of the ageing iPhone 8, Apple hasn't offered a low-cost iPhone since the SE, which was on sale between 2016 and 2017. But the rumour mill has, for several months now, claimed a new model based on the iPhone 8 will be launched in early 2020.

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Naturally, the coronavirus pandemic has likely caused delays here. But it looks like Apple's Chinese supply chain and manufacturing efforts are back up to speed, especially given the launch of a new MacBook Air and iPad Pro in March.

Despite lockdown measures imposed across China, iPhone manufacturer Foxconn said earlier in March that it hoped to resume normal production rate by the end of the month.

This week, cases produced by third parties for the new iPhone began appearing at retailers in the US. Specifically, a case from Urban Armor Gear was spotted by staff at Best Buy. Staff at the retailer have reportedly been told to not put the cases on display until April 5, suggesting the phone will go on sale sometime between now and then.

A photo of the case in question was sent to MacRumors, complete with 'New iPhone 4.7", 2020' written on the front of the retail packaging. This is the normal approach for case manufacturers to take when producing accessories for a new iPhone, when the dimensions are known but the exact name isn't.

The new iPhone was first thought to be called the SE2, but it is increasingly looking like Apple will call it the iPhone 9. This will use up a number which was missed out when the iPhone 8 and iPhone X were launched back in 2017.

The phone is expected to look a lot like the iPhone 8, complete with its home button and Touch ID fingerprint sensor, but with the internals of the iPhone 11, including Apple's A13 chip and up to 128GB of storage. Color options are expected to be gray, silver and red.

Apple will likely announce the iPhone 9 just as ir did with the iPad Pro and MacBook Air earlier in March - in other words, with an emailed press release instead of a launch event, given social distancing measures currently in place across the US and beyond.

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