Why would anyone buy an iPhone 5c instead of an iPhone 5s?

By SteveJack

This article is based upon a previous Take I wrote earlier, but I wanted to get your feedback in case I might be missing something:

Apple’s iPhone 5S costs $100 more than an iPhone 5C — or $4.17 per month over the life of a typical two-year contract or, in other words, a completely negligible amount if you’re actually in a financial position to be able to buy and use a smartphone.

Let’s get real: If $4.17 per month means anything at all to you, you really can’t afford a smartphone to begin with. Over a two-year contract, the difference between the two iPhones is less than 14-cents per day!

The iPhone 5s is separated from iPhone 5c in many ways: Touch ID fingerprint recognition, materials quality, the camera’s larger 8MP sensor with 1.5µ pixels, ƒ/2.2 aperture, dual LED True Tone flash, Burst mode, slo-mo video, improved video stabilization, a 64GB option, and, of course, the A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor.

iPhone 5s vs. iPhone 5c

Unless you’re allergic to aluminum and/or fine craftsmanship, there is no reason why anyone who can afford an iPhone would not buy an iPhone 5s (unless you’re buying a first iPhone for your son or daughter). Even then, if you want a brightly colored polycarbonate phone or some feeling of extra protection from drops and dings, slap a plastic case on the iPhone 5s. There, it almost weighs as much as the 5c now.

The bulk of any smartphone cost is the data, not the phone.

Am I missing something or is the price difference between the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c too insignificant to ever consider opting for the 5c?

Why the hell would anyone buy an iPhone 5c instead of an iPhone 5s?

It seems to me that Apple is using the iPhone 5c as a tool to push buyers to the 5s (well, at least those buyers who can grasp a simple value equation).

Once Apple gets the customer to the websites or into the stores and the prospective buyer can see and/or hold both phones and learn that they’re only separated by a mere $100, my guess is that Apple figures they’ll have plenty of upsales occurring. Upsales that will boost Apple’s iPhone margins nicely.

Oh, BTW, Apple’s going to sell a boatload of both models (and millions of 4S units too)!

Are you listening, margin-loving Wall Street?

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, former web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.


  1. Apple is making a big mistake. This is about as much quality as a Samsung Android dumbphone. Is Apple trying to cater to the Hee Haw crowd? What next? Are iPhones going to now be sold at Big Bubba’s Party Store?

  2. Exactly! This actually reminds me of the original iMac from the 90s, or those iPod Nanos from 2005. Apple is trying to aim at the youth demographic, not the “Hee Haw” demographic as you guys like to call it…

  3. I’ll say it again.

    The iPhone 5 was a jewel that was brilliantly designed and built to a very high standard. Past practices of slicing the price of an outgoing model and continuing production was not going to work here. The 5 was just too well designed and way too expensive to manufacture to slough off as previous outgoing models have been.

    The 5c was a brilliant successor to the 5: It’s global compatibility should be appealing to new markets; Apple will not be stuck with extraordinarily high production costs for an outgoing model; the obvious and profound bifurcation within the new product lineup provides Apple with great flexibility down the road.

    A cool side benefit is that the value of my iPhone 5 is assured for another year.

  4. 1. Some people can’t even afford a $100 phone (Android would otherwise have nowhere near its current marketshare).

    2. One 5S handset costs as much as two 5C handsets in the eyes of the uninformed (few of us know about carrier subsidization). Many don’t add service costs to cost of phones.

    3. Most people don’t need the awesome power of a 64 bit (that makes me smile when I think about it) structure. In fact, it’s likely that most don’t use all the power of the 4S….much less the 5. I’d also assume that some well-to-do folks have MacBook Airs and not MacBook Pros even though they can afford the additional power of the Pros.

    4. Then there’s utility considerations. The power of the 5C is likely more than enough to use premium apps that could be purchased with that $100.

    With all that said, I’m getting the 5S……. I’m far too much of a heavy user (and geek) to do otherwise.

  5. You guys are unbiievable. Apple does something new and innovative, and you complain. You all are asking for Tim Cook’s head when he knows what he is doing! I would like to see anyone of you to run Apple and see how easy it is.

    1. I think of them as jackals and vermin, mindless parasites, zombies, ventriloquist puppets remotely operated by corporate mercenaries, misguided zealots, deranged escapees from half-way houses, and ungrateful, spoilt trust fund babies.

  6. The iPhone 5C price overlap’s too far into the iPhone 5S price point. While the iPhone 4 has a comfortable price point that will draw new first time owners to the iPhone. The middle (5C) will be weak but both low and high ends will be strong

  7. Seriously, please don’t post another comment until you have taken 5 short minutes out of your life to watch this video:


    Anyone who doesn’t “understand” the allure of a 5C is totally missing the picture. Seriously, you guys are wayyyyy off base and will know that when sales of this thing are through the roof.


    Then come back and tell us why this idea is so misguided.

  8. Well, it comes down to this…

    for the next year, an hereon, You can get the current iPhone for $100 bucks.

    “We’ve got a Motorola Q, it does email, it does messaging, it does internet, it does things, for NINETY NINE DOLLARS, it’s a VERY capable machine, etc. ,etc. (paraphrase of BALLMER) 🙂

    That ninety-nine dollars means a lot to the REST of the world.

  9. I would really not care about the 5S. My daughter saw the 5C and was just ooing over how cool it was and she was going on and on about oh i want that color and dad you get that color. Yea i know you can put a case on a 5S do the same thing but i dont need a fingerprint sensor sure might be cool but i dont NEED it. Considering i had an iphone 4 till 2 months ago and now i have a 5 i am just thrilled to have something faster and a bigger screen.

    The 5S yea its super fast and all this but i dont play many games on my phone. Not games anyway that would take advantage of the 5S. I think the 5C makes people think wow this is cool and they did upgrade a few things from the 5. BUt the plastic shell is more durable and what do lots of people do drop their phones right? so its better.
    The 5S is for those who do want to spend the extra and want the TOP. the 5C is for those who just want an iphone and want the coolness the 5C has seem to make.

    Android has many phones and apple needs to do that too and not be in the rut of ok 5S $199. 5 (last years model) $99 and 2 year old 4S is free.
    4S has got siri can run ios 7 and for some people it will work. If someone wants an iphone but doesnt care about the bigger screen but wants iOS 7 and siri they got it.
    the 5C fills that teen and young group that wants colors and cant afford the extra $100. Also the moms and even dads like me and anyone who wants the newest iphone but doesnt care about the 1080P camera and fingerprint and all that.

    Yes they are nice things but if you dont HAVE TO HAVE them and your budget is limited considering there is no unlimited data plans anymore that costs more then 5C works. I would bet its got some newer compoents in it. They didnt just take a 5 throw it in a plastic case and go here ya go. Better batter life, new camera.

  10. I was surprised at the non agressive 5C pricing!
    I hoped pricing would have been in the ipod touch zone which would induce ipod touch customers and induce more iphone cisters!

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