Apple is preparing to launch a cheaper, lower-capacity version of the iPhone 4 in the coming weeks, according to a report.

Reuters claims Asian suppliers have begun manufacturing the unit, citing industry sources. Apparently one of the manufacturers is based in Korea but wasn't named though the report notes that Samsung declined to comment on the claim.

The iPhone 4 currently comes with a choice of 16GB or 32GB of memory, whereas you can still buy an 8GB iPhone 3GS. It is thought that the 8GB iPhone 4 will take the place of the 3GS when Apple launches the long-awaited iPhone 5.

The report says that the 8GB iPhone 4 will launch within weeks, though whether it will actually be introduced at the same time as the next-generation iPhone is unclear, with one of the sources saying that Apple wants to launch the iPhone 5 at the end of September. Evidence that suggests the iPhone 5 is coming in October was uncovered this week when a AT&T's vice president reportedly told staff that this would be the case.

It is thought that the 8GB iPhone 4 is intended to appeal to those making the switch between feature phones and smartphones for the first time, though one analyst quoted by Reuters thinks that Apple will be hard pushed to bring the price down any lower than $200 (around £120).

For this reason, Apple may need to build another, lower-cost handset to appeal to buyers in emerging markets.