More evidence mounts for releases of cheaper iPhone, iPhone 5S

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Apple may be hooked on minis

Despite Apple's adamant stance that cheaper phones wouldn't be a focus for the Cupertino company, that statement didn't rule out budget-friendlier phones entirely.

Reports of a more affordable iPhone have been circulating since the iPad mini launched late last year, though there's been little in the way of actual details about this iPhone mini.

While most of the attention has been focused on the iPhone 5S, there's still a strong chance Apple could introduce a cheaper iPhone this year as well.

According to a new Wall Street Journal report, that chance is actually more of a reality: Apple is apparently lining up production for the iPhone 5S to begin sometime in the second quarter of 2013 while also looking to launch the iPhone mini during the latter half of the year.

Eeny, meeny, mini phone

The WSJ reported Apple is currently meeting with its partners in Asia to determine the best course of action for a price-balanced iPhone.

There still aren't many details about what the iPhone mini will actually be like, but the Journal indicated it would feature a smaller screen. The publication actually refers to it as a "four-inch device," indicating that is the size of the handset, not the screen.

Apple is also said to have spent time researching colored shells made of a less expensive material.

If this launch plan sounds eerily familiar, that's because reports have also surfaced Samsung is planning to do the same thing with the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S4 mini.

Samsung's domination of the mobile landscape has put a bit of a damper on Apple's marketshare, though Apple isn't faring poorly in the least.

That said, releasing both a high-end iPhone and a more wallet-friendly version could help stabilize Apple's grasp on the smartphone arena, and allow the company to potentially carve out a new niche.

With the iPhone 5S reportedly on target for a summer release, it's a slightly different approach then what Apple took with the iPad mini and iPad 4 launches, but certainly not out of the realm of possibility given its past behavior.

TechRadar asked Apple for comment, though we have a feeling the Cupertino company is going to keep its mouth shut on this one.