Apple's unwavering stand on premium smartphones might be trembling if the latest rumours are to be believed. Owing to its declining market share in China, the world's largest smartphone market, and rising competition from local players like Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi, Apple might be working on a cheaper iPhone tailored exclusively for the Chinese market.

According to The Global Times and other Chinese reports, Apple could launch a cheaper iPhone model in China that will be positioned fiercely to compete against mid-range flagships in the country. In order to cut down costs, Apple is reportedly considering replacing the critically-acclaimed Face ID with an under-display (UD) fingerprint scanner with OLED display, sources within the supply chain said.

Apple's Face ID made its debut with iPhone X in 2017 and the advanced security feature replaced the long-serving Touch ID fingerprint scanner in previous iPhones. In 2018, all iPhones, including the cheaper iPhone XR, ditched Touch ID for the more secure Face ID. But using the 3D facial recognition technology, supported by TrueDepth camera setup, appears to have added to the cost of an iPhone.

iPhone X Face ID
A woman sets up her facial recognition as she looks at her Apple iPhone X at an Apple store in New York, U.S., November 3, 2017.REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Apple's decision to take such a drastic measure for one particular market shows the company's willingness to adjust to the demands of users. The company had previously made an exception for China when it launched the iPhone XS series with physical dual SIM support whereas the rest of the world got a physical SIM card slot and an eSIM support. But ditching Face ID appears implausible as it could undercut the brand's elite position.

The sources don't seem to know when exactly the cheaper iPhone could see the day of light. Apple is expected to launch the 2019 iPhones, the iPhone 11 series, this September and it is possible that the cheaper iPhone could make its debut in China around the same time. That is if the insider information is accurate.

Touch ID
Cheaper iPhone to get UD fingerprint scanner instead of Face IDReuters

Looking at the numbers, Apple taking such a step doesn't seem hard to believe. The renowned iPhone maker could be giving in to the pressure in China. A recent Counterpoint Research report revealed that Apple's market share stood at 9 percent in the first quarter this year, which is far less than Huawei's 34 percent, Vivo's 19 percent and Oppo's 18 percent market share. In fact, even Xiaomi had a higher 12 percent market share to race ahead of Apple in China.

It's only a matter of time before we see these speculations pan out as reported. Stay tuned for updates.