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

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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.

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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.