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Apple releases cheaper 8GB iPhone 5c on UK carrier O2 [u]

Apple on Tuesday released an 8GB version of its mid-tier iPhone 5c handset on UK carrier O2, bringing the plastic-backed smartphone into the sub-$100 price range in a possible bid to stave off flagging sales.

Update: The 8GB iPhone 5c has made its way to the UK Apple Store with a price of £429.

For now, the 8GB iPhone 5c is only showing up on wireless carrier O2's UK webpage with prices ranging from free to £409.99, or about $680. The unsubsidized price represents a savings of £100 ($166) off the 16GB model.

While the phone does not appear on the UK's Online Apple Store, or Apple's iPhone 5c informational webpage, it appears the only change made was a decrease in onboard storage.

As of this writing, Apple's current entry-level iPhone, the iPhone 4S, is still present on O2's website. Some industry watchers speculated the older generation device would be discontinued in favor of an 8GB iPhone 5c.

With the cheaper iPhone 5c version, Apple may be looking to kickstart what many perceive to be stagnating sales. Discussing quarterly numbers in January, CEO Tim Cook acknowledged that demand for the 5c was weaker than expected, with the lower-priced handset representing a smaller mix of overall iPhone sales. In total, Apple sold 51 million iPhones during the holiday quarter, a new record for the company but below market expectations of 55 million.

Tuesday's debut comes less than one day after a supposedly leaked internal email from O2 Germany first spurred rumors that an 8GB iPhone 5c would be released sometime this week. The lower capacity 5c has yet to make its way to the mobile operator's German website.