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The iPhone 5C release date is almost upon us with Apple set to officially unveil its first budget smartphone later today.
Expected to be a cut priced, plastic bodied sibling to the upcoming iPhone 5S, the new iPhone 5C handset has been the subject of countless leaks in recent weeks, with Apple now teasing that the handset could be just days away from arrival.
Having last week issued invites to members of the media, Apple has confirmed that the iPhone 5C launch event will be held at its Cupertino campus in California later today, September 10. What’s more, referencing the selection of iPhone 5C colours that have been prematurely teased, Apple’s invite states simply: “This should brighten everyone’s day.” The invite has suggested the iPhone 5C will be made available in two shades of blue as well as white, purple, red, orange and yellow hues.
Although Apple’s Senior Vice President, Phillip Schiller, rebuffed claims of a cheaper iPhone model, it hasn’t stopped the rumour mill from generating a lot of gossip about a budget iPhone launch, complete with pictures of the plastic body.
“Despite the popularity of cheap smartphones, this will never be the future of Apple’s products,” Schiller said in a recent interview. “Every product that Apple creates, we consider using only the best technology available.”
Although not denying the possibility of a budget iPhone, Apple’s former Senior Vice President of the iPod division, Tony Fadell, suggested that creating such a device would be hard for Apple to do.
“It’s really hard for Apple to make anything low cost, so it’s going to be really hard for them to produce a low cost iPhone,” he said to TrustedReviews. “I think they should [make a low cost iPhone],” he added. “We made really
low cost iPods so I think there is a way to make a low cost iPhone.”
To whet your appetite pre-launch, we’ve rounded up everything we know so far about the heavily rumoured budget iPhone, including the first pricing tips.
Budget iPhone Release Date
The latest rumour suggests the budget iPhone could be with us on September 20, touching down with the iPhone 5S. According to the source cited by CurrentEditorials, the mid-range smartphone will be a refresh of the existing iPhone to complement the iPhone 5S, but with a new plastic case and a reduced price tag.
Fitting with tonight’s now confirmed launch event, the iPhone 5C release date of September 20 seems all but a given, with the company’s iOS 7 operating system set to roll out as an update to existing handset users two days earlier.
Previously tipped to make an appearance in September, the leak was the first to give a specific launch date for the budget iPhone. The rumour also suggested that the launch would be coupled with a September 27 release date.
These launch and release dates sit well with previous iPhone release dates, in that the iPhone 5 was launched on September 12 2012 and then released to the public on September 21 just over a week later.
Budget iPhone Design
The budget iPhone will target the mid-range market currently dominated by Android smartphones, attempting to broaden Apple’s user base. It will do this by using a plastic case rather than the aluminium of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S.
Taking design cues from the 5th generation iPod touch and iPhone 3GS, the body of the budget iPhone is said to be a little wider and thicker than the iPhone 5 due to its curvy plastic body.
According to a hands-on video posted on YouTube where the budget iPhone is compared to the iPhone 3GS and iPod touch, the cheaper model has a unibody plastic casing that is made from polycarbonate.
The volume buttons, mute slider, SIM tray and hold buttons will apparently all be made from the same plastic material to keep a cohesive design and reduce costs.
From the leaked rear cases for the budget iPhone it is evident that the cheaper model will have the new lightning connector and a headphone jack on the bottom of the device. It will also have similar speaker grills to the iPod touch 5th generation and the iPhone 5.
The plastic body will reportedly be available in six to eight colours, with five of those already popping up in leaked images – white, yellow, red, green and blue.
Budget iPhone Specs
Potentially launching as one of the first devices running the new iOS 7 due this autumn, the latest budget iPhone rumours suggest that the device will be a reinvented iPhone 5.
“Instead of adding another iPhone to its line-up, Apple has decided to refresh the soon-to-be mid-range iPhone 5 with a selection of colours and a reduced build cost, thanks to some well-placed plastic,” said the source.
This means the budget iPhone could have the same 4-inch 1136 x 640p resolution screen with a 326ppi image density. This could be powered by an Apple A6 processor with the option of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB internal storage options. However, Apple has a history of restricting storage options in its lower-end phones.
On the rear there’s an 8-megapixel camera coupled with a 1.2-megapixel front-facing FaceTime camera.
However, originally the budget iPhone was rumoured to pack a bit of a spec downgrade to reflect the mid-range price, with one source even suggesting that the device could launch in two different price bands due to slightly varying innards.
Rumoured to be codenamed Zenvo and Zagato/Bertone, the two budget iPhone models may well have different processors to mark their differing price tags.
Zenvo is reportedly the cheaper of the two with a Samsung-made H5P dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM, 4G LTE and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity.
The dearer model, Zagato or Bertone, will have another Samsung-made processing chip, the H6P with the same 1GB of RAM and connectivity options.
The latest rumour is that the iPhone 5C may not include certain software features like Siri when it launches.
According to Gene Munster analyst Piper Jaffray, Apple may decide to restrict the software features on the iPhone 5C to stop the budget offering stealing sales from the iPhone 5S flagship.
“In terms of the phone itself, we expect the cheaper phone to have a
plastic casing, 4-inch display, and lower end internal specs (processor,
camera, memory, etc.) than the 5S/5 line up,” wrote Jaffray in a note
to investors. “Additionally, we believe that Apple may exclude some
software features, such as Siri, which we note was not an option on the
iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 upon launch.”
It would be rather strange for Apple to take Siri out of the iPhone 5C, seeing as the Cupertino company has increasingly put focus on the increased voice functionality of Siri in the new iOS 7.
Budget iPhone Price
Although widely expected to launch as a cheaper alternative to the iPhone 5S, there hasn’t been much news as to how much the budget iPhone will actually cost.
However, that changed recently when a prominent commenter on Chinese social media site Weibo said the iPhone 5C would be priced at 3000 yuan SIM-free. This would mean the budget iPhone would launch with a UK price tag of around £320.
This was further supported by KGI analyst and notorious Apple tipster Mingchi Kuo, who said:
“We’ve learned that the iPhone 5 line will be terminated from 4Q13, while the iPhone 4S line will carry on. From this, we infer that iPhone 5C is launched to replace iPhone 4. In order words, the 5C model will be positioned as midrange. We forecast its retail price to be US$400-500.”
If you look at the prices of other recently released mid-range handsets from rival manufacturers like Samsung and HTC, this £320 price tag for the iPhone 5C fits well. The HTC One Mini is £380, the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini is £350 and the Nokia Lumia 820 is £320 in comparison.
Budget iPhone Name
Of course, we don’t actually expect Apple to call their cheaper device the budget iPhone, but with no official name to go by as yet, this will have to do for now.
Other names that have been bandied about include the iPhone mini, following the naming scheme adopted by the 7.9-inch iPad mini, or the iPhone Lite.
In July, a picture of budget iPhone boxes emerged online, revealing the name iPhone 5C in a rather convincing Apple font.
Similar to the S added to the iPhone 3G, iPhone 4 and potentially the iPhone 5 as well, standing for “speed”, the iPhone 5C may represent the word colour, seeing as the smartphone is tipped to launch in a variety of colour options like the newest iPod Touch.
It may also relate to the mid-range pricepoint for the iPhone 5, with the C perhaps standing for “cost” or “cheap”. However, we highly doubt that Apple would want the word cheap associated with any of their products.
Budget iPhone Pictures
A huge number of budget iPhone pictures have leaked online, although so far all we’ve seen is the back panel of the device complete with the component chassis.
Check out the first snaps of the budget iPhone below.
We’d like to think that Apple could release a viable mid-range option for its iPhone range, but until the specs sheet and pricing details are released, we’re not holding our breath.
Next, read why the iPhone 5C will ambush Apple’s innovation.