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Cheaper iPhone a ‘gateway to India’: Analyst

Apple is expected to unveil a less-expensive iPhone at its March 21 event as a way to reach untapped developing mobile markets, analysts say.

"This phone is a gateway into India," said Brian Blair, principal and co-founder at Grays Peak Capital, in a phone interview.

The Indian smartphone market is as important as China's smartphone market was 10 years ago, Blair said. And the lower the new iPhone's price, the better Apple can compete with the likes of Samsung, LG and Huawei, Blair said.

Samsung dominates the global smartphone market with a 19.5 percent share versus Apple's 17.9 percent share in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to Counterpoint Research.

Apple hasn't confirmed that it will be revealing a less-expensive iPhone, but if it does, it won't necessarily be cheap compared to other smartphone lines.

"Apple's focus is not to try and make a super-cheap phone and sell it to gain [market] share," Blair said.

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Blair said he expects the phone to be priced at $399. Any higher, and every dollar more could hurt sales, he said.

In order to achieve a lower price and preserve margins, the less-expensive phone will be a smaller, stripped-down version of the current iPhone, for instance with a lower-quality camera and possibly an older processor, Blair said.

Apple could also be introducing a cheaper iPhone in order to target seniors, according to Trip Chowdhry, managing director of equity research at Global Equities Research.

Apple declined CNBC's request for comment.