Have your thoughts on the "cheap" iPhone changed?Anna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
August is coming to an end in just a little under two weeks, which brings us into September. For a lot of people, September signals the beginning of fall, cooler weather and the start of school. For us here in the mobile industry it means phones, phones and more phones. New phones are released all throughout the year, but autumn seems to be the time of year when some of the more popular models are showcased. We have the Samsung Unpacked: Part 2 event coming up here in a couple of short weeks, where we expect to see the announcement for the Galaxy Note III and hopefully the Galaxy Gear smartwatch. Fast forward about a week after that and we'll find ourselves faced with what Apple has to bring to the table this year, a question which we're fairly certain we know all the answers to, but when don't we feel like we already know what to expect?
Rumors of a "cheap" iPhone have been circulating for quite a few years, but of course nothing more than each preceeding model before the newest one has ever gone down in price. Essentially, Apple has always had a "cheap" iPhone option come in the form of a model that was already aged two years, but for once it seems that Apple might be changing that up this year. We may not see the iPhone 4S make it into a third year of shelf-life. This year, what would have been the bottom feeder of the 2013-2014 Apple line-up might be switched out for an entirely new device, which has been dubbed the "iPhone 5C". Alternatively, it's also been said that the iPhone 5 might actually be the phone in question to be replaced by the cheaper plastic variant, but I'll believe it when I see it.
We've written and talked about the rumored cheap iPhone for quite some time here on PhoneDog, and throughout my own articles I've kind of bounced back and forth between how I felt about it. On the one hand, I felt that Apple already had a good enough model where every previous iPhone generation was knocked down a hundred bucks each time. But, at the same time, this is an old model. We all pretty much know what to expect from Apple by now, and maybe the $199, $99 and $0 models just aren't cutting it for profits anymore. People who might have had their eye on the iPhone 5 or the 4S might have been waiting for a year or two just because they figured they could get the phone at a much cheaper price if they could just make whatever phone they were currently carrying hold out for another year or two. We could see this shortly after the launch of the iPhone 5, as the popularity of the new iPhone in comparison to all other iPhone sales hadn't been as popular as previous generations of iPhones had been. People were still rather favorable to the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4, which has been speculated to be because of both lower price and similar housing design. It helps that Apple usually designs their phones to last for a long time.
The fact that their cheaper models carry on so well even after being on the market for over a year or two is actually something I really dig about Apple, but it seems as if this repeated business model is only adding salt to Apple's wounds. Despite recent rumors that suggest that the iPhone 5 will be the phone to be replaced by the 5C model, I still think that it makes more sense for the 4S to be phased out in favor of the 5C, which uses Apple's Lightning connector in order to charge. By phasing out the 4S and bringing in the 5C, the entire line-up would be able to charge up using lightning chargers and making the phone's charging system compatible with other newer Apple products as well. Instead of the 5C being free, I could see the device selling for $49.99 U.S. dollars and comparable prices across the world. $49.99 is still considered "cheap" in the smartphone world, and although many would likely be disappointed by Apple no longer offering a free iPhone device, they would be able to make a profit off of a newer phone that was cheaper to make. If LTE is indeed featured on the 5C, I could see this phone being a pretty big thing for Apple globally.
My thoughts on the "cheap" iPhone still bounce back and forth. I was alright with the way the previous models were, especially being able to walk out the door with a "premium" device without paying a dime is especailly alluring to some people and isn't something most companies do. However, if Apple is able to put together a phone that has more modern specs and still make it "cheap" by covering it up with plastic housing then I can see that idea being appealing as well. Of course, only time will tell exactly what this mysterious iPhone 5C will look like, or even if it's a real thing. Ultimately, I'm mostly intrigued to see what Apple can do with the idea to make it work in their favor, if it's an idea they've actually considered at all.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the iPhone 5C so far? Do you think it should replace the iPhone 5 or the 4S, or do you think Apple should stick with what they've been doing the past few years? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!