Apple finally introduced a lower-cost iPhone Tuesday, the iPhone 5C, in an array of bubblegum-like colors in green, blue, pink and yellow. A white version is also being made. The phone will cost $99 for a 16 GB model, and $199 for a 32 GB version, each with a two-year wireless contract. The phone will be available for pre-order Sept. 13 and for purchase Sept. 20 in the U.S.
A key audience Apple is trying to reach with the 5C is China, as well as other countries where the cost of phones isn’t subsidized, like they are in the U.S.
The less-expensive iPhone is something consumers have been hoping for, although recent-edition models of iPhones historically have been available at the $99 price point, and sometimes even for free with a two-year contract in the U.S. But this is the first time a new iPhone has been offered for $99.
“In the emerging markets, without subsidy, the current price (for an iPhone) is $650-plus, so it will be a welcome change,” mobile analyst Chetan Sharma told NBC News recently.
While the iPhone 5C doesn’t have an aluminum casing, it is made from a lacquer hard-coated polycarbonate material — in other words, “It’s “unapologetically plastic,” says Apple designer Jony Ive.
The casing is made from a single part, so that no seams will be visible. The phone’s steel frame also doubles as the iPhone 5c’s multiband antenna, Apple says.
The iPhone 5C uses many of the same features as the iPhone 5: It has a 4-inch Retina Display screen, and the same Apple A6 processor as the iPhone 5. The new iPhone 5S, also unveiled by Apple Tuesday, uses a faster processor. That phone will start at $199 (and sell up to $399) with a two-year contract.
Apple has also created custom cases with a “soft-feel silicon rubber.” Those will cost $29.