New high-res photos of low-cost iPhone rear polycarbonate shell; pricing in line with iPhone 4?

“Following a video from earlier this week that appeared to show a partially assembled device, Sonny Dickson shares new alleged high resolution photos of the low-cost iPhone, potentially named the iPhone 5C,” Richard Padilla reports for MacRumors.

“A prominent poster on Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo, C Technology, also claims (via phoneArena) the low-cost iPhone in China will be priced at 3000 yuan off contract, which is equivalent to $490 and in line with current pricing on the iPhone 4,” Padilla reports.

Is this the rear case of Apple's iPhone 5C?
Is this the rear case of Apple’s iPhone 5C?

More info and photos in the full article here.


  1. $450 (the price on an unlocked iPhone 4 in the US) is still a lot of money. A colleague of mine just bought a Nexus 4 because it was only $300. $450 is not competitive (note: both are 8 GB phones). 🙁

    I don’t care that the iPhone 5C is “better” than the Android phones. A LOT of people will simply say: iPhone 5S 4″ screen $450 or Nexus 4.7″ screen $300-> bigger screen and cheaper? They will pick the Nexus every time.

    I do realize that Google basically gives their phones away at cost and that Apple can’t afford to do that. But that fact won’t change the reality that many people will buy the Nexus 4 because it’s 50% cheaper than the iPhone and has a big screen.

      1. No, you miss my point. I would NEVER buy anything but an iPhone. I just want Apple to be competitive so the cell phone market doesn’t go the way computers did with Windows.

        BTW, my colleague is quite happy with her Nexus 4 (largely because she doesn’t really know the difference and she didn’t want to spend $600 to get an iPhone 5). Ignorance is bliss. Either Apple has to find a way to lower their prices or to get the message across that their products are worth double the price.

        1. Does it really matter if the iPhone goes the way of the Mac (vs Windows)? As long as Apple continues to make really great products *I’ll* still buy them. I don’t need (hundreds of) millions of other people buying the same phone to make me feel “justified” about my purchase.

          1. I can remember the pre-iPod / iPhone days. Apple had less than 3% of the only market they were in – computers.
            I was a completely happy and enthusiastic user of Apple products.
            Seriously, Apple needs to think about making insanely great products rather than setting its mind on marketshare.

            1. Yes, and they almost went out of business. Who is going to fund all the R&D necessary to make the “really great products”?

              Sure, they have the lion’s share of profits now- but if they drop massively in market share, it will mean they are selling less and earning less. And we’ll all be back where we started with Apple as a niche player…

          2. Further to this, if it did go down the way of apple vs ms but in the mobile/tablet scene I’m sure it would only encourage apple to fight as the underdog and bring out better ways to interact with ios much like they did in the PC wars. Excluding the fact apple make more money than the other developers and that peop LOVE their apple products more than ever.

        2. @macman1984 –
          I agree that Apple needs a truly moderate-price iPhone.  The cost of materials in an iPhone 4 is only about $112 and the materials in iPhone 4s cost about $132 (  Apple can surely generate a decent profit by selling a plastic iPhone comparable to the 4s for (say) $300-$325.

          If Apple can meet or beat the competition on price, huge numbers of consumers will switch from Android to iOS … not only now, but in their subsequent purchases.  Compared to competitors, Apple does a great job pleasing and retaining users — therefore, a “gateway” device is needed to start people on the path of becoming long-term Apple customers.  It is short-sighted to maximize profits from selling the budget iPhone when far more can be earned on subsequent purchases (iPhone 6, iPads, iTunes purchases, etc.).

          To minimize cannibalization of the 5s market, Apple can do things to limit the appeal of the budget iPhone to high-end buyers such as limiting storage capacity to 16GB and making it more dependent upon iCloud for storing photos and music, charging a nominal fee for the first 5GB of iCloud storage (rather than giving it away as with the 5/5s) , not including fingerprint recognition, including a somewhat slower processor than the 5s, including a somewhat less ‘powerful’ camera, etc.  (Also, it would be DUMB to launch the budget iPhone 1-2-3 weeks ahead of the 5s, because that would be an invitation to users to buy the budget iPhone instead of the 5s.)

          1. I completely agree, except that I don’t think they have to “meet or beat” the competition’s price. They are better and people will gladly pay A LITTLE more for an iPhone. As I said, if they came out with the 5C at $350, they would clean up the mid-market (and leave the truly cheap crap to others).

        3. Macman, I think you bring up some valid points, but I think it’s possible that Apple has a wide range of parts in store for the 5C. Perhaps there will be a version without the fingerprint sensor, a front camera, only 8 GB of storage, etc.

          I agree that they need to differentiate. Perhaps it will be expensive initially, and then come down in price over the years to your $300 mark. The iPhone 4 could never come down that far in price do to the cost of build materials, but a 5C may be able to maintain margins despite a lower price point. In any case, everyone is watching, and it will be very exciting to see what they do.

          1. They don’t need to maintain margins on a high volume product. So they earn a little less on each device- they will easily make that up in volume. They’ll kill everyone in the mid-market if they price the 5C around $350. Dominating market share at certain price points feeds on itself- it’s like free advertising because you see tons of people happily using their phone…

    1. So what? Many people buy Hyundai or Kia because they are 50% cheaper than BMW or Mercedes, but the German manufacturers still have a very successful business selling aspirational products that people want and/or wish they could afford.

      A smartphone costs $1200-1500 for a couple of years of service. If somebody is going to choose an inferior product for what amounts to barely a 10% difference in terms of total cost of ownership, than Apple doesn’t WANT those people as customers.

      Apple does NOT need to “race to the bottom”!

      1. Then Apple has to do a better job of explaining to potential buyers why its products are better, because all I get at the moment is information direct from manufacturers or through media, even the public for christs sake about how these phones are better products overall than iPhone. Even I am confused these days about its superiority so what chance have those who are not predisposed to buy/prefer Apple?

        1. spy…,
          Funny enough, people that really care what they get know to look around. People that only want the cheapest thing, do not care about the rest.. Its really simple.

          Apple is right where it should be. Repeat customers is super high. Transfer customers is very high. The race to the bottom has NO winners. Look at Dell and HP. Winning?? I don’t think so.

          Samsung has to fight with all these chinese mom and pop shops selling no name cheap stuff. Apple does not want to go there. Market share race is a killer. Period. Build great, sell at a reasonable price (parts cost, assembly costs). Many old iPhone 3 and 3G’s still work fine.

          Just saying.

      2. Maybe cell phones cost $1200-$1500 (=$50-$60/month) where you live, but the rest of the world is changing. In Israel, for example, you can get unlimited air time, unlimited texting and 3 GB surfing/month for $25/month (and this includes free calls to landline phones in over 50 countries). There are even cheaper plans for $8/month).

        This will eventually spread everywhere. So the cost of the phone will go down.

        I don’t think ANY company should be so arrogant as to say “we don’t want their money”. They will lose market share and momentum with the public (how many people own BMWs & Mercedes versus Toyotas and Hondas?). There’s no reason for Apple go “bargain basement”, but they need to stay competitive (if the iPhone 5C were to cost $350, I’m sure a LOT of people would be happy to pay 15% more for a vastly better phone. But 50% more is likely a deal breaker (and the iPhone doesn’t even have a 4.7″ screen!).

        Look, I’m the biggest Apple fanboy around (and I’m also an Apple shareholder). I just want them to dominate the market and they won’t do that by pricing themselves out of the market.

        1. I don’t think they’ll release a larger screen just for the sake of having it. I think it’ll be a different phone with a different interface.

          I agree on being competitive about pricing while still remaining differentiated (and appealing on the high end).

        2. You say Israel? Well, good old USA is subsidizing the land of Jesus to the tune of billions of dollars every year, so hey, get yourself a $8.00 phone service, we Americans pay for your Israeli way of life, and now it is time for some shmear and bagel to the tune of $8.00. Thank you the land of olives and donkeys, or maybe that is Palestine, oh well

      3. Hyundai & Kia both have MUCH better warrantees than the German cars and get to where you’re going just the same in comfort, with all the bells and whistles.

        Try it, you may like it.

        1. I have no issues with Hyundai or Kia, and I think they’re actually building very good cars nowadays. I even request the Elantra when I rent for business trips. Heck, relatives even purchased an Elantra on my recommendation.

          However, I’m a bit of an auto enthusiast, so I’m interested in things besides warranty, value, and practicality. If all you need is a reliable, practical, cost-effective vehicle to get you around, Hyundai and Kia are fine – excellent, even. But, they most definitely are not “the same, but without all the bells and whistles” as a BMW or Mercedes.

          The german design and engineering, the powertrain, suspension, handling, transmission, materials, look/feel… It’s a whole different world.

          Hyundai and Kia don’t even market a serious contender in the “sport sedan” category. Again, the Optima and Sonata are very nice cars, but are nothing like a 335i or C350. Go drive one and you’ll see what I mean. Or don’t – you’ll never like your Hyundai or Kia as well again.

    2. Oh, and I forgot my favorite question for those who are so myopic, they can only see initial purchase price: Apparently, you’re planning on just throwing away your phone after two years, right? That’s usually followed by a blank stare.

      If the Nexus 4 that was $300 now is worth $150 two years from now, and the iPhone 5s that was $450 now is worth $300 two years from now, was the iPhone really more expensive?

      Some people are just incapable of thinking beyond the here and now.

      1. All true, but NO ONE I know thinks like that when buying anything, especially cell phones. Resale value just isn’t on the radar (largely because you’re just a likely to drop/destroy your phone, give it to your kids, or have it stolen before you get around to selling it to buy a new one).

        It doesn’t matter if it’s true (about the resale value). It’s just not going to influence so many people when it comes to buying a phone.

        1. Resale value may not be on the radar of those who buy cheap phones, perhaps because they know they’ll be almost worthless anyway. Among those I know who own iPhones, they either keep them for long periods, well after the contract has run out, simply because of the quality of build and the reliability, and that if something *does* go wrong, Apple will replace it either for free, or for a much lower price than a cheap LG or Samsung, or they know they can sell the phone on and pretty much cover the cost of the new one, even making money on the deal.

    3. First, simple math. In your example, the Nexus 4 would be ~33% cheaper than the iPhone, *not* 50%. If you flipped that comparison around, the iPhone would be 50% more expensive than the Nexus 4. “More” and “less” are relative to a reference. People who don’t understand that are more likely to end up with a Nexus 4.

      Second, informed buyers also consider quality, customer support, ecosystem, and potential resale value when assessing the true cost of a mobile device.

      Third, Apple has a very healthy gross margin and could afford to significantly reduce its prices on iPhone products. It could even sell them at cost, if it wanted to. Apple has the best mobile ecosystem around and is increasingly monetizing it through sales of apps, media, etc. This is the reason that Samsung wants to ditch Android and build its own mobile ecosystem under Tizen. But Apple is not slashing the prices of iPhones because it doesn’t need to…iPhones are still selling very well and making lots of money for Apple. However, it is likely that Apple will gradually reduce iPhone prices over time while maintaining/improving quality and functionality, just as it has done with iPods, iMacs, and Mac laptops.

    1. I agree with the $399 sweet spot. Do this Apple:

      iPhone 5S: 32Gb – $599 / 64Gb – $699 / 128Gb – $799

      IPhone 5C: 32Gb – $399 / 64Gb – $499 / 128Gb – $599

      iPod touch (aka iPad nano): 32Gb – $199 / 64Gb – $299 / 128Gb – $399

      iPad mini 1st Gen wifi: 32Gb – $299 / 64Gb – $399 / 128Gb – $499

      iPad mini Retina wifi: 32Gb – $399 / 64Gb – $499 / 128Gb – $599

      iPad wifi: 32Gb – $499 / 64Gb – $599 / 128Gb – $699

      There… I fixed it. You’re welcome, Apple. 😀

  2. Looking at the photo of the case interior, I noticed there’s a 2D barcode printed near the top; it would be interesting to know what data that carries, it could be enlightening.
    It wouldn’t read with a QR code app, I don’t think, those barcodes need a proper laser scanner with appropriate software.

    1. A plastic F-22 is too fricking expensive for US taxpayers too, but apparently there’s something great inside that costs a fortune.

      Apple has waited so long to introduce additional iPhone models that it will be much harder to differentiate the layout and styling that once made the iPhone an obvious leader to even the most casual observer. We can only hope that with all the time Cook & Co have had to get it right, they had better be pouring a lot of secret sauce into that plastic wrapper.

  3. Think most y’all missing Cooks strategy on iPhone 5c. Every time a new iPhone comes out Apple continues to sell the older model. It is a valid strategy that has worked for years. So what’s new with the 5c. Nothing. It is last years 5 packaged in a cheaper shell so they can shift more units to cheaper buyers who want to enter iWorld while those keen on upgrading to the best can by the state of the art 5s or what ever the next will be called. The cheaper polycarbonate cover keeps the margins high but the phone is essentially the same old iPhone 5. A great product but not as great as the new model. .

    1. Rumor has it that the old strategy you speak of has come to an end. Apple might discontinue the iPhone 5 after the introduction of the 5S, as opposed to leaving it on the market. The iPhone 4/4S could be in danger as well. So that would be what’s new with the iPhone 5C.

      Obviously the plan to leave the old iPhones on the market wasn’t working, otherwise they never would’ve made the 5C in the first place.

  4. As written before: the iPhone 4 price range is certainly not to be a model for a “low cost” smartphone.
    If Apple really wants to hit this market, it has to crash in with a REAL LOW COST phone (definitely under 250$).
    Otherwise, it’s just gonna be a no “killer” at all.

  5. I can’t afford a new iPhone since iPhone 4 arrived. For me it’s just TOO expenive for an smartphone either with or without contract.

    So what’s the point on getting it it starting at 649$?
    One could get: 2x iPad mini 16GB + Wifi or the top of the line with 64GB and LTE….or the 16GB iPad 4 with… or even a MacMini!!!!!

    I hop Apple really fix the iPhone prices or intros that “plastic and cheap” model that everbody s talking about?

  6. Apple is in a position with the iPhone that it can sell a budget version and still give the user a complete iPhone experience. It reminds me of the time when my first Intel Mac mini blew the doors off my PowerMac G5. The iPhone is maturing nicely and I’m happy to see it going to more people, even though I am one of those who has to upgrade to the latest best.

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