In an interview with China's Shanghai Evening News, Apple's Senior Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller insists that his company is not planning to develop a 'cheap' consumer phone. “Despite the popularity of cheap smartphones [in China], this will never be the future of Apple’s products," the executive reportedly said, according to a translation from The Next Web. At first glance, that statement seems to dispel rumors from the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg yesterday; both publications reported that Apple will release an inexpensive iPhone as early as this year.

But while Schiller's response could be read as an outright denial of that possibility, the marketing guru almost certainly used care in choosing his words. If and when Apple releases a more affordable iPhone, you can be sure the word "cheap" won't be appearing on any keynote slides. It's a descriptor rarely attached to the company, which favors metal, glass, and ultra-precise manufacturing techniques over the plastics and sloppy build quality associated with many cheap smartphones. The late Steve Jobs wasn't immune to such beguiling public statements: he once lamented that Apple would never enter the 7-inch tablet market: last year, the company released its 7.9-inch iPad mini. An inexpensive iPhone could still be in the cards, with Schiller's comments hinting as to how Apple could market such a device if and when it arrives.