As the world prepares itself for Apple to launch a budget/plastic/colourful iPhone we round-up what the rumour mill is saying we should expect.

Budget iPhone

It's that time of the year again when iPhone rumours begin to circulate at a level of fervour only matched by Royal baby naming rumours.

This year there is even more to get excited/depressed about with the iPhone rumour mill as it is widely expected that Apple will launch two new iPhone models - the iPhone 5S: a slight upgrade to last year's iPhone 5 along with the Budget/Plastic iPhone which is a completely new category for Apple.

This is obviously new territory for Apple as the words budget and plastic have been notably absent from the company's rhetoric over the past five or six years. Of course Tim Cook and Jony Ive are highly unlikely to use either word in the naming of the new phone, but even so, launching a product like this will be mark a major milestone in the smartphone evolution.

Budget iPhone

Apple doesn't do budget, so it will be interesting to see how it pitches this cheaper iPhone without diluting the premium name the brand has built up over the last six years.

However, with iPhone growth finally beginning to plateau in recent quarters, and with most developed markets now conquered (with the exception of China, which has yet to fully embrace the iPhone) it makes some sense for Apple to look to the lower end of the market.

Colourful cases

One of the most distinctive features of the iPhone has been that it is only available in black or white. According to numerous leaks, this is all about to change with the budget iPhone. Multiple leaked images of colourful plastic cases have emerged online in colours like red, yellow, blue and green (as seen in the leaked image above).

While Apple is not averse to colour, with the iPod range available in a range of bright shades, this would be a big change for the iPhone range. It would also suggest that Apple is targeting the younger market who cannot afford to shell out £500 for a top-end iPhone or enter into a two-year contract.

The cases which have emerged initially looked fake and too plasticky for an Apple product, but as the weeks rolled by and more similar cases emerged, it seems likely that we will see a colourful budget iPhone with a plastic case - though some suggest it will be a more premium poly-carbonate finish.

Screen size

The budget iPhone is likely to have the same 4in screen as the iPhone 5 and up-coming iPhone 5S, as Apple would be able to get them cheaper from suppliers if they were all the same size.

Whether or not the budget iPhone will have a Retina Display is unknown however, but considering the Retina standard is now three years old, the high-density display could appear on the budget iPhone.

Hardware and Software

A budget iPhone will probably mean lower specs when it comes to the processor, RAM and camera. I expect to see the phone powered by the A6 chip currently inside the iPhone 5, and not the A6X chip in the iPad or the rumoured A7 chip that could power the iPhone 5S.

It is likely to have 1GB of RAM paired with the A6 processor and the camera sensor could be similar to the iPhone 5's and is highly unlikely to feature the rumoured 13 megapixel Sony sensor expected in the iPhone 5S or the dual-colour SmartFlash.

In terms of software, the budget phone will match its premium sibling with iOS 7 pre-installed.

Release Date and Pricing

EXCLUSIVE: The budget iPhone will go on sale on the same date as the iPhone 5S. So now you know.

The only problem is that no one really knows when the iPhone 5S will go on sale, except that it's likely to be within a week or two of it being announced.

With August almost upon us, I expect Apple to stick to the release cycle from last year with a September announcement and release date - but it could easily be August or October.

And so to possibly the most important aspect of the budget iPhone - the price.

Analysts and commentators seem to be split down the middle on this one. Some (mostly sell-side analysts) are suggesting a price of $399 which would allow Apple to retain it huge profit margin. A price point like this however is stretching the 'budget' moniker a little too far.

Those hoping for more of a bargain are touting a price point of $199 but this seems too low and would mean Apple would have to sacrifice too much of that profit margin just to appeal to the pre-pay market.

My two cents? It will launch in the UK for £299 for the 16GB model and will be available for free on contracts as low as £15.