“If Apple does unveil an iPhone 5C, I expect them to concurrently abandon the iPhones 4 and 4S,” John Gruber writes for Daring Fireball. “Their three pricing tiers for the next year would be a new iPhone 5S at the high end, today’s iPhone 5 in the mid-range, and the new 5C at the low end. This way, all new iPhones would sport 16:9 aspect ratio displays, and all would have Lightning adapter ports. Adios both to 3:2 displays and the grody old 30-pin port.”

“The other factor is that I think Apple needs to push the low end of the iPhone lineup even lower. Today they’re primarily selling the low end models as free-with-contract devices. Apple has no iPhone that competes well in non-subsidized markets. In the U.S. and other subsidized markets, I expect the 5C to be sold just like the iPhone 4 is today: ‘free’ with a contract,” Gruber writes. “But in non-subsidized markets, I expect the 5C to sell at lower prices than an unsubsidized iPhone 4 does today.”

Gruber writes, “I think Apple could build and sell an iPod Touch-caliber iPhone 5C for $399, possibly as low as $349… If Apple is functioning properly, this shouldn’t be a concern. I expect the 5S to offer performance and camera upgrades that should clearly set it apart from a 5C model with iPod Touch-caliber specs. The camera alone might be worth the difference. The long-rumored fingerprint-scanner-built-into-the-home-button would be another. What I’d consider a red flag, a sign that perhaps we should start being worried about post-Jobs Apple, would be if Apple crippled the software on the 5C to diminish it against the 5 and 5S.”

Much more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: If so – educated guessing now – Apple’s iPhone family this autumn would look something like this (prices are with a 2-year plan, followed by the unlocked and contract-free price in parenthesis):

High-end (black or white – or “smoke” or “silver,” see explanation below):
• iPhone 5S (32GB) – $299 ($699)
• iPhone 5S (64GB) – $399 ($799)
• iPhone 5S (128GB) – $499 ($899)

Mid-tier (black or white):
• iPhone 5 (16GB) – $99 ($499)
• iPhone 5 (32GB) – $199 ($599)

Low-cost/Pre-paid (choice of six colors):
• iPhone 5C (8GB) – $0 ($349 or $399)

That gives iPhone customers a gamut of $0-$499 (with 2-year plan) and $349/$399-$899 (unlocked and contract-free).

One other thing we’d like to see is delineation in color for iPhone 5S vs. iPhone 5.

iPhone 5S should be set apart from the previous model. Where iPhone 5 is black or white, if Apple made iPhone 5S, say, “smoke” or “silver,” or whatever floats Jony’s boat (hold the pastels, please), it would help sway the types of customers who stuck with iPhone 4 instead of upgrading to iPhone 4S – or even purchased the less expensive 4 instead of the more capable 4S – because they were indistinguishable on the outside.

We’ve always believed that not making a distinguishable exterior change on the “S” models was a mistake that left iPhone sales on the table.