The iPhone 5C is the colorful, plasticky — and comparatively outdated – counterpart to the fingerprint-scanning, metallic iPhone 5S. Launched at the same time in September, the two handsets have had divergent fortunes. According to a report this week, the 5S has been outselling the 5C by more than two to one.
Although the 5C is moderately cheaper than the 5S is — $549 for the unlocked 16GB 5C, compared with $649 for the equivalent 5S – it lacks the more expensive model’s fingerprint scanner and has a less capable camera and older (and fewer) processors. Essentially, it’s last year’s iPhone 5 in a colorful plastic shell.
Prior to its launch, the iPhone 5C had been seen as Apple’s great hope in China, where it doesn’t have the cachet it has in the west, largely because cheap and capable Android phones rule the roost there. However, analysts had been hoping for much lower pricing than the flagship iPhone 5S, more around the $350 mark, and Apple didn’t deliver that.
Reports last week also suggested Apple was cutting production of the 5C, pointing to a drop in the handset’s Chinese gray-market price to well below the official price — as good an indicator of weak demand as you’re going to find.
It remains to be seen how the two models will fare against each other when they go on sale in 50 more countries in the next two weeks, but Apple itself is clearly acting on the market’s early preference for the iPhone 5S. Retailers appear to have already got that message — last week Best Buy halved the contract price for the 5C a mere two weeks after it went on sale.