Would people care more about the iPhone 5C if it was actually cheap?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from Kansas City, MO
Published: October 10, 2013

It's only been about a month since Apple announced their new iPhone lineup for the year, which included taking the iPhone 5 out of the picture entirely in favor for the more plastic-y iPhone 5C. Although I have expressed that I thought it would be a good idea for Apple to start offering more modern devices with a cheaper price tag instead of just recycling old devices year after year, the way that Apple went about with the release of the 5C is not exactly what I would have thought Apple would have done. Instead of replacing the now two-year-old iPhone 4S with a plastic iPhone 5C, they gave the iPhone 5 a refreshed look with a plastic exterior. It was a move that Apple had never done before, but assumed it would play out well for markets that had been hoping for a cheaper iPhone for quite some time now.

The issue was that the iPhone 5C didn't really turn out to be all that cheap at all. Apple really just took the iPhone 5 and gave it a new plastic shell, and while it might not exactly be cheaply made in the sense that it will break just by looking at it the wrong way, it does cost less money to produce housing made out of polycarbonate rather than aluminum. Yet, the price stayed the same as if it was the same phone. Internally, it was. And maybe that was all Apple needed to justify pricing it at the same price as the iPhone 5 would have been priced had it stayed on the shelves another year, but I think that the pricing is the deciding factor on what would make or break the reception of the iPhone 5C.

Apple phones in itself are social icons. Apple was producing only the most quality phones, and people will defend them until the end because of it. Any time you have an Android vs. iOS fight between two people, you almost always hear about how much better the build quality in an iPhone is compared to any Android. Heck, I used that arguemnet a time or two (or ten), mostly because the build quality was really nice. The build and the material the iPhone is made out of was one of the biggest selling points of the phone, whether it was aluminum or glass or whatever. Apple themselves prided on making such great phones. But when you release a phone made out of plastic, especially after fighting consumers on the use of such a material to build a phone, you're at least going to want to follow up with the guffawing by making the phone a little bit cheaper.

Every year when Apple releases their new phone, my news feed blows up. People are ready, they're excited, and it's this huge event that people get ready for. A couple of my friends even get to the store all super early just to make sure they get the new iPhone. Even if they're not after the new iPhone, I've seen plenty who were happy just to get the discount off of last year's model. This year was practically the same, people still ooh and ahh'd at the new iPhone, iOS 7, Apple this and Apple that like they would any other year. But not a single one talked about the iPhone 5C. They didn't hate it, they didn't like it, they just didn't care. Everybody was after the iPhone 5S. Despite the bright colors of the phone, the iPhone 5C was just too bland of a deal to really get excited for it.

I honestly think that the iPhone 5C would have done so much better if the specs were dumbed down. I firmly believe that Apple made a mistake by keeping the iPhone 4S and getting rid of the 5. The 4S would have been great if they had just done things the way they always had - that system seems to work alright. But if you're going to change it up and take a phone out of the equation, at least take the older phone (especially because there's still the tidbit that the 4S does not use any form of 4G) out and put the newer one in. I think the iPhone 5C could have been a pleasant mix between the 4S and the iPhone 5; all the specs of the iPhone 4S, except with a 4-inch screen and LTE connectivity. Then it would have been something that people could get excited about. But you just can't slap a plastic shell on a phone that was once made with "the most premium of materials" and expect it to sell that well. People didn't want to see plastic or bright colors, they wanted to see a cheaper price tag.

I will be interested to see how well the iPhone 5C has sold when the next quarterly reports emerge, because like the Moto X, the iPhone 5C seems to be one of those phones where people had high expectations for what they wanted to see. Judging by the mum reaction from people, this wasn't what they wanted to see.

Readers, what are your thoughts about the iPhone 5C so far? Would you rather purchase an iPhone 5C rather than a 5S? Share your opinions with us in the comments below!

Image via TechBeasts