Is The iPhone 5c’s Main Purpose To Make The iPhone 5s Look Better? [Opinion]


iPhone 5c might not get another iOS update.
iPhone 5c might not get another iOS update.
Photo: Apple

“In the past, when we’ve announced a new iPhone, we’ve lowered the price of the current iPhone making it even more accessible to more people. But this year, we’re not going to do that,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook during the company’s special event in Cupertino on Tuesday.

Instead, Apple replaced the iPhone 5 with the iPhone 5c, a device with exactly the same internals, but a different, more colorful design. But why did it do that? Could it be because the iPhone 5 is too similar to the iPhone 5s, and that dropping its price would have hurt sales of the newer model?

I think so.

I don’t think Apple made the iPhone 5c plastic to make it cheap; I think the company made it plastic to make it worse and to open up a bigger gap between the entry-level iPhone and the high-end model. Here’s why.

The iPhone 5c isn’t a low-cost iPhone like many were expecting. It’s only $100 less than an iPhone 5s both with a contract and without one. But it does provide a cheaper option for those who cannot afford the high-end device.

The average customer doesn’t care if their smartphone has a 64-bit processor, or a fancy “motion coprocessor.”

That’s not all it does, though. It also makes the high-end iPhone look even better. In most people’s eyes, the iPhone 5s is too similar to its predecessor, and therefore the newer model isn’t worth the extra $100.

The average consumer doesn’t care if their smartphone has a 64-bit processor, or a fancy “motion coprocessor” that handles specific tasks.

They also won’t put in enough research to understand why the new and improved camera in the iPhone 5s is better than the camera in the iPhone 5; they’ll read “8-megapixel iSight camera” on the specifications sheet for both phones in the store and they’ll assume they are the same.

To many, the only difference between iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s is a fingerprint scanner.

So really, to a lot of smartphone customers, the only difference between the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5s is a fingerprint scanner.

Of course, that’s a big difference. The fingerprint scanner won’t just improve security in our iPhones, but it will also make it easier than ever to protect our data. And in time, Apple will surely open the sensor up to third-party apps and allow us to sign into them using our fingerprint — in the same way we can authorize iTunes purchases with it.

But is the fingerprint scanner really worth the $100 difference? If that’s the only differentiator you saw between the iPhone 5s and the entry-level model, would you really pay the extra cash?

I don’t think the majority of you would; I know I wouldn’t. That’s why we have the iPhone 5c.


The difference between the iPhone 5s and the entry-level model now isn’t just a fingerprint scanner — it’s also a significantly different design, one that uses premium materials like diamond-cut aluminum and sapphire crystal to be more beautiful and more exquisite than any of its rivals.

So now when you walk into an Apple store or your local carrier, you won’t need a sales assistant to tell you why you should spend $100 on the high-end iPhone. You’ll instantly see and feel why one is better than the other.

  • elcaballeroquediceni

    Another reason: People who paid full price for an iPhone 5 will still have a better looking phone than those who paid less for the iPhone 5c. Snobs will be able to spot the riff-raff by their cheapie phones.

  • Adrayven

    Another reason: People who paid full price for an iPhone 5 will still have a better looking phone than those who paid less for the iPhone 5c. Snobs will be able to spot the riff-raff by their cheapie phones.

    Only a snob would think that.

  • RSmalley79

    I don’t think we will see the real reason of the 5c until the 6 is released next year.
    5c entry level, 5s mid range and 6 as latest model with new design.

    unless they just put the 5s internals in the 5c casing next year? I don’t think that will happen though, but then i didn’t think they would keep the 4s either!!

  • TimeAweigh

    I think the reason for the 5C is simple. The aging 4/4S had the Samsung FRAND patent licensing issue. They needed to replace it with a modern tech phone not encumbered with license extortion issues. Now the customer gets essentially an entry level iPhone 5 for $99 or $199. With the tradein credit selling their old one it is essentially a free upgrade to the iPhone 5. In addition the 5C has the new bands including LTE-TD used by China Mobile. There are lots of customers on a smaller budget that love the cool fun colors of the 5C and don’t like the sophisticated look of the 5S. Kind of like my kids driving a mini-cooper vs a Mercedes. I’d pick the mercedes and they would pick the mini-cooper regardless of price. The reasons you mention are just a side benefit, but note that the prices overlap which kind of throws cold water on your “theory.” The top model 5C is the same prices as the low model 5S – $199. By the way, the 5C replaced the 4/4S and the 5S replaced the 5.

  • gettysburg11s

    Yep, the 5C is there is give people a clear choice between the 5S and other models. Before, the choice was less than clear. 5? 4S? Very much the same, except for screen size. Myself, I actually prefer the polycarbonate build of the 5C, and I may switch to the Blue one and sell my 5.

  • rsbell

    Another reason: People who paid full price for an iPhone 5 will still have a better looking phone than those who paid less for the iPhone 5c. Snobs will be able to spot the riff-raff by their cheapie phones.

    Only a snob would think that.

    No, but thanks for being the internet’s moral compass.

    I wish we all could be as superior as you.

  • yon2

    I am really thankful that nobody is really ripping off the iphone(s). First people wanted more color choices, the have it now and they complain because is plastic, every other phone in the market is plastic and nobody complains about it. With the 5s is not a big overhaul, but it has different thing compare with its predecessor, has a more powerful processor, the finger print reader, the camera, and the iOS, that is big enough, besides that, Apple has mades very clear that the S models wont be a huge leap, only minimum things like this that set us up for next models. I personally l like this one (the S model). And as usual it will sell just fine.

  • rklaproth

    Honestly I think the iphone 5c came out to appeal to the younger audience of buyers. Let’s face it, Apple is loosing a tremendous market share among the younger demographic to Samsung and other competitors. It’s no longer cool to own an iphone when grandma has one too.. These color iphones will appeal quite a bit to younger kids, as well as in the Asian markets where they like their color and their bling!

  • rklaproth

    And quite frankly, Apple completely missed the mark, these 5C phones need to be free with a 2 year contract, and $299 with no contract.

  • nvettese

    Apple looked to be trying to bring back the “fun” of the Colorful iMacs, but instead, they have been met with trepidation and disappointment. Sadly, over the last few times that Apple has released something, their market share and stock have dropped. People aren’t finding Apple’s product innovating anymore. They are just the same old phones with little to make it interesting.

    What Joe Blow on the street is going to care about 64bit processors? If they do, what are they going to say when they find out no apps currently work on 64bit?

    What will happen when you go to check your phone in the winter and you have gloves on? Fingerprinting will not work.

  • HerbalEd

    This has to be the stupidest Apple article I’ve ever read … and I’ve read plenty.

  • Unis Zuurmond

    Even if the 5s and 5c were priced the same (i.e. if the 5c cost as much as the 5s), I would go with the 5c. That’s because my idea of style is different to most people’s. I like that it is simpler, no lines, no seams, no joints, simple cut-out holes. Top that with more scratch resistant compared to the 5s, and that I won’t need a case (something I loathe), my choice is clear: the white 5c.

    Now, you may say that I put a lot of emphasis on design and not features, but hey, that’s why I buy Apple and not Samsung.

  • Zod Buster

    I just hope they haven’t patented the colors.. but?

  • KBW

    This has to be the worst article I’ve ever read. Only reason to have a headline like that is to draw in readers and unfortunately I was one of them.
    There’s a reason why they say opinions are like a**holes, this is the perfect example of it.