Apple is rumored to be delivering not one, but two new iPhones in 2013 with the iPhone 5S and a device currently dubbed iPhone 5C supposedly on tap for later this year. And while much focus has been placed on the iPhone 5S, the iPhone 5′s likely successor, there is quite a bit of interest in the iPhone 5C, a device that has been rumored to be replacing the iPhone 4S.
Last year, Apple followed protocol. In September, the company announced a new numbered variant of the iPhone, the iPhone 5, which brought a host of improvements along with it including a redesign, 4G LTE data speeds, and a larger screen, all different from the previous ‘S’ model, 2011′s iPhone 4S.
At the time, the company dropped the price of the iPhone 4S to $99, where it stands today, and began offering the iPhone 4, the company 2010 iPhone, for free. Until September, this is how Apple’s lineup should look. A premium iPhone 5 starting at $199.99, an iPhone 4S for $99 and an iPhone 4 that takes on the budget Android phones out there.
This year, Apple may not follow the same route. Indeed, rumors suggest that the iPhone 5 will be replaced by an ‘S’ iPhone, the iPhone 5S, which is expected to retain the design and screen size of last year’s model while adding a new camera and improved processor. But the company is also expected to announce another iPhone later this year, a device that is being dubbed the iPhone 5C.
For months, rumors have waged on about a cheaper iPhone, one that would be aimed at low-cost Android phones and consumers in emerging markets like China. As it turns out, the iPhone 5C, Apple’s cheaper iPhone, appears to be very real and it’s looking like it could be launched alongside the iPhone 5S later on this year.
Here now, is everything we know about Apple’s rumored iPhone 5C, including whispers about its release date, hardware, software and more.
Apple is all but confirmed to be hosting an iPhone related event on September 10th. The event, which was specifically mentioned as an iPhone 5S launch event, might actually be the launch date for the upcoming iPhone 5C as well.
There is, however, no guarantee that the iPhone 5C will show up. We’ve seen analysts like Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster claim that the iPhone 5C is on the way but the original AllThingsD report that cited September 10th as the iPhone 5S launch date didn’t specify if we’ll see both an iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, only that the iPhone 5S is on the way.
John Gruber from Daring Fireball believes that if Apple does announce an iPhone 5C, that it will replace the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4, shifting away from the norm. If Gruber is on point, then it could be that the iPhone 5C makes its debut in more regions than just developing ones which could mean a release date right around the same time as the iPhone 5S.
Apple typically releases its new iPhone models just a few short weeks after launching them which should put the iPhone 5S and perhaps the iPhone 5C release date right into the thick of September. Rumors have however put the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C release date in late October but those have not been backed up.
If Apple does launch an iPhone 5C, it’s almost assuredly going to be made from plastic, rather than the aluminum that Apple used to build the iPhone 5 and likely, the iPhone 5S.
All along, rumors have suggested a plastic form factor for the iPhone 5C and recently, we’ve seen either the iPhone 5C itself, or mock ups of the device, appear in photos and on video showcasing what appears to be a plastic back plate.
Many of the photos came from Sonny Dickson, a known Apple leaker, who also released a video showing off what the iPhone 5C could look like next to the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S. The photos depict a slim device, almost as slim as the 7.1mm iPhone 5, with style that is clearly borrowed from the premium iPhone model.
Japanese site Macotakara also published a video of the iPhone 5C’s plastic back which clearly show that this device is going to use the same Lightning dock standard as Apple’s other devices. We’ve also seen mock ups from tinhte.vn user sonlazio that depict exactly the same thing.
There is also speculation that the device will come in several different colors, offering users the ability to sport a non-black or white iPhone without the use of a case.
Rumors suggest that Apple will be using a 4-inch Retina Display on the iPhone 5C, same as the iPhone 5 and quite possibly, the iPhone 5S as well.
Leaked iPhone 5S parts point to Apple keeping the same size screen for this year’s flagship model and given the iPhone 5C leaks that have emerged, it’s clear that Apple likely won’t be launching the cheap iPhone with a screen that is any larger, or smaller, than the current iPhone model.
Chinese site IT168 recently posted what appears to be a part from the low-cost iPhone 5C. If the part is authentic, it would appear that Apple is looking to put an 8MP sensor, same as the one in the iPhone 5, inside the cheaper iPhone model.
There also, however, have been rumored flying around about a possible 5MP camera inside the iPhone 5C. However, an 8-megapixel sensor would allow Apple to compete more effectively against more mainstream devices like the Moto X which will arrive later this month with a 10MP camera sensor.
A report from Japan-based Macotakara suggests that the name iPhone 5C could ultimately stick with the new cheap iPhone model. The name first surfaced in a likely fabricated photo depicting iPhone packaging but while the photo may have been fake, the name may not be.
What the ‘C’ stands for is unclear though given that it’s cheap and should boast some color options could mean that it stands for ‘Cheap’ or ‘Color.’
The iPhone 5C will almost certainly be running iOS 7 as Apple looks to unify its devices with Retina Displays (the iPad mini 2 is expected to have one), Lightning ports and iOS 7 software. The software, which will be shown off in detail at Apple’s iPhone event, will deliver hundreds of new features including AirDrop and will also usher in a new look to Apple’s iOS software.
Exactly what might be on the iPhone 5C remains unclear though. Gene Munster believes that the device may drop Siri, possibly thanks to it using a lesser processor. Apple requires an Apple A5 processor for Siri, which could be part of the reason. It likely wouldn’t have any of the unique features that would come with the iPhone 5S either.
Thus far, no iPhone 5C carriers have been rumored though given the iPhone’s prominence and carrier willingness to offer older devices like the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4, it’s possible that we could see it debut for a number of carriers in the United States.
Of course, much of the talk about the iPhone 5C has centered around the idea of it being aimed at emerging markets like China, but a launch in the United States has not been ruled out.
Carriers like AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon could offer the iPhone 5C as a viable alternative to phones like the Moto X and Galaxy S4. If that is to happen though, it remains unseen.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster shared his thoughts on the iPhone 5C earlier this week, suggesting that the device could come at $300 off-contract, or, the same price at which Google sells the LG-made Nexus 4.
One of the things that made the Nexus 4 so successful was that it was sold off-contract at an extremely cheap price, something that could be enticing to Apple as it looks to challenge the swatch of cheap Android devices that have hit the market. And with rumors suggesting that Google could debut an even better Nexus 5 at the same price, there is added incentive.
If true, it would make the iPhone 5C the cheapest iPhone in Apple’s lineup and it could, as Gruber suggests, replace both the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4 as Apple’s cheapest option. It could also, perhaps, become Apple’s free iPhone on U.S. carriers with the iPhone 5 dropping to $99 on-contract.