Apple is reportedly working on a cheaper iPhone

Apple is considering selling a smaller, cheaper version of the iPhone as soon as this year as part of its push to get customers in developing nations, according to published reports.

The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News, quoting unnamed sources, said Apple is weighing retail prices of $99 to $149 for the device, which would use cheaper parts and might be smaller than current models.

The company declined to comment on the reports, which included Apple speaking to at least one top U.S. wireless carrier about its plans.

Executives at Apple have been interested in building a lower-cost model with less expensive components as a way to appeal to customers in emerging markets. More affordable iPhones would help Apple play catch-up with smartphone makers such as Samsung Electronics using Google’s Android mobile software system. Android made up 75 percent of smartphone shipments in the third quarter, compared with 15 percent for Apple, according to IDC.

Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook has said China is a priority. The company generated $5.7 billion in sales in China in the quarter ending in September and sold more than 2 million iPhone 5s during its weekend debut there last month.

Adding a less expensive version of the iPhone would be a strategy shift for Apple, which has until now tried to appeal to more budget-conscious customers by cutting the prices of older models. After introducing the iPhone 5, Apple kept selling the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 at reduced prices.

Apple has sold more than 270 million iPhones worldwide. The device generated $80.5 billion in sales last year, accounting for more than half of Apple’s revenue.