Apple’s iPhone 5c sits on the Apple Store as the company’s $99 on-contract iPhone option. And while it remains an option, it’s an option that we aren’t recommending to consumers right now. Here’s why you shouldn’t buy the Apple iPhone 5c right now.
Last year, in the run up to September, iPhone rumors pointed to the arrival of two new iPhone models, the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s. In September, Apple confirmed those rumors and announced the iPhone 5s as its new flagship $199 model and the plastic iPhone 5c as its budget $99 on-contract iPhone. The company’s iPhone 4s slotted in as its free-on-contract iPhone.
The iPhone 5c is cheaper than the iPhone 5s through the Apple Store and consumers get a device that comes with a solid 4-inch Retina Display, a great camera, speedy processor that can handle games and multitasking, and a design that comes in an assortment of bright colors. It’s a good, solid smartphone and one that’s still attractive thanks to Walmart’s insanely cheap price tag and its upcoming iOS 8 update.
While it remains an attractive option for those that don’t want to shell out a ton of money to get into Apple’s ecosystem, it’s a device that we think should be avoided, at least for right now.
Right now, these next 40 to 60 days, are the worst possible time to buy an iPhone and really, any smartphone. That’s because we’re hitting the tail end of the yearly smartphone cycle. The devices that arrive in the next two months or so will likely represent the top smartphone options until the cycle begins anew in the beginning of 2015.
The iPhone 5c might be tempting to those in the hunt for a new cheap smartphone but here is precisely why we think you should avoid buying the iPhone 5c, at least for right now.
There are a few reasons not to buy the iPhone 5c right now but the best is the fact that the iPhone 6 release is just around the corner. As we’ve noted, even if you’re not interested in the iPhone 6 itself, it’s expected to set off a chain reaction of events, events that will work in the favor of those looking for a new smartphone.
The first event is the iPhone 6 launch itself which is expected to take place on September 9th. That date isn’t confirmed but Recode’s John Paczkowski is a solid source and smartphone buyers can circle September 9th in pen on the calendar. We should see Apple send out media invites to confirm that date in the weeks ahead.
What this means is that in just a few weeks, we’re going to see another iPhone option emerge. This only happens once a year and we only see a massive overhaul to the iPhone once every two years. The iPhone 6 is not expected to be an ‘S’ iPhone variant and rumors suggest that it will be loaded with brand new features including a redesign. In other words, it’s going to represent a massive leap up from the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c.
The iPhone 6 is expected to deliver some significant changes to the iPhone, changes that we think will push the iPhone 5c further down Apple’s iPhone totem pole. iPhone 6 rumors point to two new screen sizes, 4.7-inches and 5.5-inches, both of which will provide more screen real estate for gaming, web, getting work done, and television shows and movies. The best part is that it looks like the company might be able to accomplish that without blowing up the size of the iPhone.
I own the iPhone 5 which comes with a 4-inch Retina Display, same as the iPhone 5c. While the resolution is still good, I’ve come to loathe the size after using big screen Android smartphones (like the LG G3) that are easy to use with one hand. Rumors suggest that the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 model will only be slightly larger than the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5.
The iPhone 6 is also rumored to have a higher-resolution display, a slimmer and better protected design, a camera that’s improved over the iPhone 5c’s, and an A8 processor that could deliver better performance and battery life. It could also provide more color options and software features that need the device’s hardware to function.
Running down the check list, the iPhone 6 should beat out the iPhone 5c in all key areas including camera and design. The difference between the two cameras should be remarkable given that the iPhone 5s camera is already better than the iPhone 5c’s. It may not seem like much but just wait until you want to capture a once-in-a-lifetime moment and it comes out bad because you’re using a less-than-ideal camera.
Obviously, the price of the iPhone 6 is going to be more than the iPhone 5c’s but for many people, these upgrades will be well worth the extra cash.
iPhone 5s Price
We said a chain reaction and we meant it. We should also see the iPhone 6 drive down pricing on current smartphones including the iPhone 5s, Apple’s top smartphone at the moment. Already, we’ve seen Walmart drop the iPhone 5s price down to $99 on-contract, an iPhone 5s deal that is permanent.
This of course is the same price that Apple charges for the iPhone 5c and it’s just $70 more than what Walmart charges for the iPhone 5c on-contract. The iPhone 5s is the much better phone. So by waiting a few more weeks, you have the potential to see even more deals for a phone that we like a lot better than the iPhone 5c.
I would not be surprised if a struggling retailer like RadioShack offered a steep discount on the iPhone 5s, a deal that you would not be able to take advantage of if you bought the iPhone 5c right now. Even if that doesn’t happen, the iPhone 5c and its cheap price aren’t going anywhere so it’s in your best interest to take a wait and see approach.
iPhone 5c Price
We still don’t know what Apple is going to do with the iPhone 5c. There’s no way it’s going to be able to continue selling it at its $99 price point so we expect it to drop in price at the Apple Store if Apple keeps it around. If it doesn’t, we should see retailers attempt to clean out their inventory with an assortment of iPhone 5c deals aimed at those that aren’t interested in the iPhone 5s or iPhone 6 and simply want a cheap iPhone with a good screen and solid software support.
The iPhone 5c’s iOS 8 update will be its first which means that it’s likely going to be sticking around for a good while. Again, we’re not saying don’t buy it, we’re just saying that you shouldn’t buy it anytime in the next few weeks.
The same goes for top Android smartphones. Top iPhone 5s competitors like the LG G3, Samsung Galaxy S5 and HTC One M8, devices that are all better than the iPhone 5c, will likely see their prices drop in September as sweeten their offers after the arrival of the iPhone 6. We’ve already seen some of these dip below the $99 price point.
As an added bonus, we’ll likely see the new Samsung Galaxy Note 4 arrive in September to compete with the iPhone 6. The Galaxy Note 4 will be a powerful smartphone and we should see day one deals emerge for it as it attempts to compete with the iPhone 6.
If you’re not in a hurry to replace your current smartphone and you aren’t one hundred percent sold on the iPhone 5c, I highly recommend waiting, at least until September. In September, you’ll have access to the iPhone 6 and you should also have access to cheaper Android devices, a cheaper iPhone 5s, and a cheaper iPhone 5c.
We understand that every situation is different. Phones break, money appears, whatever. If you simply can’t wait, try and find a deal. There’s no sense in paying the full $99 on-contract price when retailers like Walmart are offering iPhone 5c deals.