Apple today pulled the wraps off the iPhone 5c, which will cost $99 with a two-year contract in the U.S. A 32 gigabyte model will sell for $200.
Its unlocked and/or contract-free price is $549 for the 16GB version, and $649 for the 32GB phone.
The phone, which has been consistently pondered as a “low-cost” phone or “mid-tier” option leading up to this event, is both of those things.
It is “unapologetically plastic,” not aluminum or glass-backed. It has Apple’s standard eight-megapixel camera, which already seems out of date considering the new camera specs Apple unveiled today for its gold-standard iPhone 5s. It does have a new front-facing camera that promises better FaceTime calls and self-portraits.
The 5c will, of course, run on iOS 7, Apple’s newest mobile operating system — which older models can upgrade to, as well.
But it has a four-inch Retina display, an Apple A6 chip, console-level graphics and a slightly bigger battery than the iPhone 5.
And, as widely expected, the phone will come in colors: Blue, white, pink, yellow and green.
But still, by lowering the cost of the iPhone, Apple could “invigorate growth where it’s been limited,” namely emerging markets, according to Forrest analyst Charles Golvin.
“This is primarily about opening up the market for Apple,” he added. “The target segments are price-sensitive customers, people who have been unable to join the ecosystem due to price.”
According to a recent report from research firm IDC, Android smartphone shipments grew 73.5 percent between the second quarter of 2012 and Q2 2013, putting the Android OS at nearly 80 percent of global market share. Apple’s iOS, in comparison, held just 13.2 percent of the global market in the second quarter of this year.
The iPhone 5c could also act as a gateway phone for consumers that have been iShy. As my AllThingsD colleague John Paczkowski put it, “… Historically, Apple has done quite well for itself using mid-tier products with lots of aspirational appeal to draw budget-conscious consumers into a higher price range. It did it with the iPod nano, and again with the iPad mini.”