Apple Reportedly Working on iPhone Mini, Updated MobileMe

The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Cupertino, California-based Apple is apparently working on a new line of iPhones that will be smaller and sleeker than the current generation touchscreen handset.

Despite previous reports to the contrary, Apple is believed to be actively polishing the first of a new line of less-expensive iPhones. That’s according to “people familiar with the matter” who spoke on a basis of anonymity with The Wall Street Journal.

Unofficially dubbed the iPhone ‘Nano’ in the tech blogosphere Monday, the rumored device may ultimately cost less than $200 and be available without a corresponding mobile contract. With a contract, the WSJ suggests, the device may retail for as little as $50.

At this time, it isn’t clear what attributes the mini iPhone would boast. Given the device’s smaller frame and reduced power, it would likely offer just a fraction of the iPhone’s established bells and whistles.

The Wall Street Journal has learned that a prototype of the device already exists and it is roughly half the size of the iPhone 4.

With regard to data storage on the device, the report adds that Apple also exploring “a major revamp of its MobileMe online storage service,” a development that could very well tie into the new line of smaller iPhones.

The service, which lets users store data in a central location and synchronize their calendars and contacts among computers and other devices, currently has an individual annual subscription fee of $99. Apple is considering making MobileMe a free service that would serve as a “locker” for personal memorabilia such as photos, music and videos, eliminating the need for devices to carry a lot of memory.

The new line of mini iPhones – as well as a refreshed MobileMe – could be released as early as this summer in conjunction with the anticipated launch of the iPhone 5.