iPhone 5C Officially Released: Competitive, Colorful, (Not) Cheap

In the past few months, rumors have swirled about a new plastic iPhone model, dubbed the iPhone 5C, which would be released in multiple colors and come affordably priced. Today, Apple officially announced the 5C at its headquarters in Cupertino, California and also announced the higher-end iPhone 5S. The 5C is a “fun and colorful” design; internally, the 5C is largely unchanged from the iPhone 5, featuring a similar 8MP camera and A6 processor.

Colors for Everyone

According to TechCrunch, who live-blogged the event, Apple alluded to color on the iPhone in their media invitation, saying, “This should brighten everyone’s day.” It seems one of the standout features of the mid-range model is color. With current iPods and previous iMacs, Apple marketed several colors for consumers, yet the iPhone never received the same treatment.

In comparison, Windows 8 phones, such as the Nokia models, are manufactured with several bold colors that are popular among consumers. The iPhone 5C will come in five colors: green, pink, white, blue, and yellow. Apple also featured new silicon cases for use with the 5C, which come with circular cutouts, meant to contrast with the bold colors of the phone.

Plastic, Plastic, Plastic

The 5C comes with a unibody, polycarbonate case—a material Apple utilized in past Macbooks. Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design, Jonathan Ive, says, “The 5C is beautifully, unapologetically plastic.” The device features a lacquer hard coat, giving it a glossy look and feel.

The material, although plastic, has a dense feel, intended perhaps to dispel the cheap image surrounding the device. Although some speculated that the “C” in “5C” stood for cheap (due to its less expensive plastic materials), Apple curbed those rumors with their price specifications.

Price and Competition

According to TechCrunch, who live blogged the event, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “In the past, when we announced a new price, we lowered the price of the current iPhone, making it even more accessible.” Instead, Apple chose to discontinue the iPhone 5 and to replace it with a mid-range model (iPhone 5C) and a premium model (iPhone 5S). Carriers will offer the iPhone 4S for free; the iPhone 5C will start at $99 for the 16GB model; the iPhone 5S will start at $199 for the 16GB model.

Contrary to speculation before the event, the 5C’s off-contract price is only $100 less than the iPhone 5S. Many analysts considered a lower off-contract price necessary to sell more units to developing countries and China. It seems, however, that Apple decided to forgo that route. Instead, the iPhone 5C creates a different kind of iPhone, appealing to the buyer hoping for more customization: a “funner” iPhone.

The Moto X from Motorola provides similar color choices but costs $100 more than the 5C; the Moto X comes with a higher megapixel camera. Nokia offers colorful smartphones, but in order to meet the price of the 5C, customers need to purchase an older model—the Nokia 920, for example.

As mid-range smartphones go, the 5C is affordably priced, although not so affordably as an entry-level, world phone; analysts said an appealing off-contract price around $350-$400 would suffice.

For consumers, the iPhone 5C will be available for purchase on September 20, and pre-order starts on September 13.

Image Courtesy of Flickr