In less than two days, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) will finally introduce the next-generation iPhone, which, according to rumors, actually points in two directions. First there's the iPhone 5S, which Apple will release with the latest and greatest technologies from in Cupertino, Calif., but Apple also reportedly plans to release another iPhone that's cheaper to make and cheaper to sell to customers.
The media dubbed this iPhone the "iPhone 5C" in July after a single photo was posted on the Chinese forum WeiPhone showing a blue bin full of what appeared to be the packaging for the budget iPhone. The moniker "5C" made sense, since Apple had planned to sell this plastic-encased iPhone in several different colors, much like its iPod lineup from a decade ago.
But until recently, the name iPhone 5C was still in question. That changed in the first days of September, when another Chinese site shared several photos of the iPhone 5C, showing off the colorful iPhone both in and out of its packaging. The packaging appeared legitimate, as further photos depicted instruction manuals, legal information, SIM card ejection tools and a complete phone diagram of the iPhone 5C.
We know what the iPhone 5C has on its insides, but before Tuesday's event, we'd prefer to show you what the iPhone 5C will look like on the outside. Thanks to a number of leaks -- more like a deluge, really -- the Internet hosts a rather large collection of photos of the yet-to-be-released iPhone 5C (mostly thanks to expert Apple product leaker Sonny Dickson). Apple plans to show off these iPhone 5C units on Tuesday anyway, but we'd much rather share them with you now. Please enjoy these 23 photos of the budget iPhone 5, the iPhone 5C.
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Most analysts believe the purpose of the iPhone 5C is for Apple offer a cheaper iPhone for people in lower income brackets and emerging markets (including China and India -- two largely untapped markets for Apple) that can't readily afford the newest high-end iPhone. Apple is particularly interested in China, as proven by multiple recent visits by Apple CEO Tim Cook to the headquarters of China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE:CHL), the largest telecommunications carrier in the world with 703 million subscribers. Many believe Apple has chosen to produce and release the cheaper iPhone 5C so it can strike a deal with China Mobile, and join the company's vast TD-LTE network.
Apple is expected to release the iPhone 5C with many of the same features of the iPhone 5 -- including a 4-inch Retina display at 326 ppi, an A6 chip, a FaceTime HD camera and an 8-megapixel rear side camera -- but the key difference will probably be the iPhone 5C's form factor. Reportedly, the anodized aluminum body of the iPhone 5 will be replaced by a cheaper, albeit sturdier and more scratch-proof, polycarbonate shell.
But the selling point of this particular iPhone release won't be its form factor or its specs, but rather its accessible price point (plus its availability in five colors, which will set the iPhone 5C apart from other phones, but especially the main iPhone line). Many originally predicted Apple would release the iPhone 5C at the same price as the iPhone 4, which is currently being sold for $0 with a two-year contract in the U.S., or for about 3,000 yuan (roughly equivalent to $490) in China. These iPhone 5C price rumors seemed to be confirmed by a prominent poster on China's Sina Weibo social network named "C Technology," who also claimed the iPhone 5C would release at the same price as the iPhone 4. KGI Securities' Ming-Chi Kuo, who has an excellent track record with forecasting Apple's product pipeline, also predicted (via MacRumors) the iPhone 5C would release at a price between $450 and $550 off-contract, which would line up with the newest set of rumors.
If these price rumors are accurate, Apple could be changing its price strategy across the entire iPhone line-up. With the new iPhone 5S price probably set at $199 with a two-year contract, last year's iPhone 5 could drop its price to $99 on-contract, and the iPhone 4S from 2011 could sell at $0 on-contract. However, rumors have said the iPhone 5 may be eliminated from the line-up entirely, which could mean the iPhone 5S price is $199, the iPhone 5C cost is $99, and keep the iPhone 4S at its $0 on-contract price as its last remaining iPhone with a 3.5-inch screen. This will likely be the first year, however, that Apple removes the popular iPhone 4 from its U.S. line-up.
We originally predicted that Apple would reintroduce iOS 7 on Sept. 10 and release the operating system a week and a day later on Sept. 18. Since Apple tends to release its newest iPhone two days after the release date of its newest iOS, we predicted Apple would release at least one of its two new iPhones on Sept. 20.
Kuo recently said (via MacRumors) that Apple would release its iPhone 5S after the budget iPhone 5C in September due to supply constraints, but we believe Apple will be able to launch both new iPhones on the same release date -- Sept. 20. Apple has reportedly restricted vacation time for employees between Sept. 15 and 28, while T-Mobile has implemented vacation blackouts between Sept. 20 and 22, according to TmoNews. All rumors seem to point to a single Sept. 20 release date for both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5S.
What do you think of the iPhone 5C? Would you consider purchasing an iPhone 5C over Apple’s high-end iPhone line, even if that means sacrificing some key user features to save some money? Do you think Apple will bundle the release dates of the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C together? Give us your thoughts of the iPhone 5C in the comments section below.