Here's a familiar promise from the mysterious Apple whisperers: The company is working on a lower-end iPhone that will cost less and arrive by the end of this year, sources tell The Wall Street Journal's Jessica E. Lessin. It will look like the iPhone we love, only with cheaper parts — a plastic shell instead of aluminum... and recycling!

We've been promised the same sort of affordable Apple phone before, of course, but to no avail. The idea is very un-Jobsian, after all: Apple has long prized quality over volume, which has long worked out well. Also, in Apple world, a rumor is just a rumor until proven otherwise — even if the rumorers proved accurate with their iPhone 5 predictions. And as we get closer to that alleged end-of-2013 release date, this whole thing could disappear as a manufacturing impossibility — Apple could abandon the plan altogether, one person told Lessin.

Still, Apple has some motivation for making a cheaper device. When the company has lowered prices on previous models of the iPhone, wireless carriers have reported high demand for those discounted devices. And then there are the phones on Google's Android platform, which offer a lot of cheap competition. So maybe it's time to buy into all the hype — any thrifty phone user would surely appreciate if this wish came true.