Relegated to a Lookalike
“Copying iOS 7 is going to be a big problem for cheap hardware. iOS 7’s appearance and dynamics require a powerful GPU and advanced, finely tuned, fully hardware-accelerated graphics and animation APIs. This will hurt web imitators most, but it’s also going to be problematic for Android: while high-end Android phones have mostly caught up in GPU performance, and recent Android versions have improved UI acceleration, most Android devices sold are neither high-end nor up-to-date.” - Marco Arment in iOS 7 As Defense. Craig Hockenberry made the same point in episode forty-six of John Gruber’s The Talk Show around minute 35:40.
A cheap iPhone built with inexpensive parts relative to Apple’s high-end offering would face the same problems an Android device running a mimicry of iOS 7 would. Those challenges could be enough to prevent Android from copying iOS 7, as Marco pointed out in his article cited above; could they be enough to prevent Apple from building a cheap iPhone — one with components comparable to an Android device — as well? And if not, how much is Apple willing to compromise on its mobile operating system to make this budget device run an iOS 7 lookalike?