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iPhone 5C: What We Think We Know

We have heard for almost a year that Apple is working on developing a budget iPhone made out of plastic. Over the weekend, we saw a photo of some alleged packaging that suggests Apple may call the device the iPhone 5C. We don’t know if that’s the official name, it could just be some random parts maker trying to make the news, but we can discuss what we think we know about the new smartphone.

We’ve compiled several of the leaked photos into the gallery above, and below we’ll discuss plenty of the rumors that have surfaced to paint a clearer picture of what to expect. Again, we’re saying we “think” we know these points because it’s all hearsay until Apple announces the iPhone 5C. Let’s dig into what we think we know now.

1. Apple Will Sell the iPhone 5C in Several Colors

Most of the iPhone 5C leaks we’ve seen show the smartphone in a variety of colors. The most prevalent colors seem to be blue, some sort of orange/pink shade, yellow and green. It also appears that Apple will launch a white model, though we haven’t seen any black options just yet. The “C” in iPhone 5C may even stand for “color,” as a recent rumor suggested. We think that the variety of hues will help make the device more attractive to a wider audience, though, to be fair. most people typically show off their fashion sense with a colorful case.

2. The iPhone 5C is Going to be Cheaper

Samsung has long said that plastic doesn’t necessarily mean cheaper, but the iPhone 5C is going to exist as the cheaper iPhone. Competitors are running away with Apple’s potential market share in China and other areas, especially where the cost of an iPhone can be prohibitively priced. The major question is whether or not Apple will do away with the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4S. The company typically drops the price of its two older models when it introduces a new handset, so we’re not entirely sure why a new “budget” iPhone might exist in the U.S. – unless it makes so many sacrifices on the hardware side that it’s even cheaper to build than selling off leftover inventory of older devices.

3. Apple Will Target Emerging Markets

Apple needs to get its foot in the door on China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier, and it might be able to do so with the iPhone 5C. Apple will need to add support for the carrier’s proprietary TD-SCDMA network, which it hasn’t done so far, and it needs to keep the overall cost of the phone down. How badly does Apple need China? Strategy Analytics said in May that Samsung sold 12.5 million smartphones to Chinese consumers during the first quarter of the year while Apple sold just 6.1 million devices… behind Huawei, Lenovo, Coolpad and ZTE. India could also be a target market. It’s the world’s third largest market, according to Strategy Analytics, but it’s also growing four times faster than any other country on average. Apple’s already pushing growth in the country, but it could do better with a lower-priced smartphone.

4. The iPhone 5C will Sport Lower-end Specs

This one is pretty obvious from the start: Apple is going to have to sacrifice in some way in order to keep costs down. I don’t think simply adding a plastic shell is enough. Apple is probably going to cut out some storage, use an older or slower processor, toss in a more affordable camera, perhaps a 5-megapixel sensor, and will probably sacrifice on the screen quality. I imagine it will lack a Retina display, though that’s just pure speculation. We’ve also seen leaked images that suggest Apple’s iPhone 5C will come equipped with a single-LED flash while the iPhone 5S will offer a dual-LED shooter. Clearly there are sacrifices being made on the camera – why sacrifice low-light performance otherwise? –  and, likely, all over the phone. It’s also possible the iPhone 5S will offer fingerprint recognition while the iPhone 5C will not. I don’t think Apple will kill the LTE radio, but other manufacturers do make that sacrifice in some cases.

5. The iPhone 5C May Launch Around September

The latest rumors suggest Apple’s iPhone 5C will launch in tandem with the new iPhone 5S, possibly around September. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it land in the U.S. in some form – why leave a market out entirely? An employee with Apple manufacturer Pegatron recently confirmed that she was working on the device’s assembly line, which makes perfect sense if we’re about two months out from the phone’s launch. Price is totally up in the air at this point, as is the exact release date and specific carrier partners.

Wrap-Up

Again, we’ve created the above pointers to help paint a picture of what we can expect from the iPhone 5C. We’re summarizing rumors, but most of them have been repeated from various resources, which seems to lend a bit of credence to the legitimacy of those rumors. We believe the iPhone 5C will launch in a variety of colors, with a focus on emerging markets. Apple will very likely cut the specs in order to keep a budget price point, particularly for those who are buying the phone off contract. Lastly, we think a September launch makes the most sense at this time.


Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...

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