Apple (s aapl) has begun production of an 8 GB version of its iPhone 4, according to two sources speaking to Reuters (s tri) on Tuesday. The reports come from within Apple’s Asian supply chain, and claim that 8 GB flash drives have begun being manufactured by a Korean component maker, which is most likely Samsung.
The iPhone 4 currently comes in only 16 GB and 32 GB storage capacity options, but according to a growing number of reports, the iPhone 5 is due to be released sometime in the next two months. When launching a new device in the past, Apple has kept the previous-generation iPhone around with less storage as a lower cost option for consumers.
Some thought (based on Apple’s own statements, as well as other reports) that Apple might introduce a different, low-cost model of the iPhone to enter emerging markets. It is possible that this 8 GB version of the iPhone 4 is that device, but I don’t think that’s likely; this is just the equivalent of the iPhone 3GS which Apple still sells alongside the iPhone 4.
Still, it is a good sign that the iPhone 5’s release is imminent. Reuters also reports that Apple is aiming for an end of September launch for the new iPhone, and that the device will have a bigger screen, better antenna and an 8-megapixel camera, but will otherwise resemble the iPhone 4. Sources told the news agency that Apple manufacturing partners Hon Hai and Pegatron will produce up to 45 million iPhone 5 units altogether as part of Apple’s initial order, although no time frame for production of said units was given.
A late September launch could still fit in with reports of an early October shipping date for the iPhone 5, since Apple is said to be preparing a media event to announce the iPhone in September.