Monday, 17 September 2018

Apple iPhone 5S and 5C (2013)

Apple iPhone 5S. Sleek. Sexy. Successful.
Launched September 2013

A few days ago we saw Apple’s annual launch event of new iPhones with the XS, XS Max and cheaper XR devices. The XR is designed to bring iPhone features in at a lower price point by replacing some of the more expensive features with something a bit cheaper. This isn’t the first time that Apple have tried a marketing approach like this. Five years ago this month they launched the iPhone 5S annd iPhone 5C at the same time, with mixed results.

As with the XS, the iPhone 5S was an upgrade of the previous year’s model – the iPhone 5. Keeping the same smallish 5” display of the 5, the 5S added a fingerprint scanner and had a more powerful 64-bit processor, housed in a variety of high-end metallic-and-glass cases.

The iPhone 5C was the cheaper model, similar in concept to the new XR. The 5C was essentially a reskin of the old 5, replacing the case with a brightly-coloured polycarbonate affair. This was essentially copying Nokia who had won praise for the cheerful design of their Windows-powered Nokia Lumia range. It wasn’t just the hardware that look a bit like Nokia, the new version of the operating system – iOS 7 – introduced a simpler, flatter interface which was a little more like Windows than the skeuomorphic feel with older versions of iOS.

The new design of iOS was well-received, shipping with both the 5S and the 5C and pushed out over-the-air to everything back to the iPhone 4. On top of that, the iPhone 5S sold very well – as most new iPhones do – but the 5C was more of a problem.

Apple iPhone 5C. Cheapskate.
Ever since Apple had launched their second iPhone, there was always a lower-cost option available… the previous year’s model (or in some cases the model before that too). Cheaper they may have been, but it wasn’t obvious that the owner had got something out of the bargain bin. The 5C was different – it wasn’t just priced more cheaply, it was constructed out of cheaper materials and because it looked very different from other iPhones it was immediately obvious that the owner had gone for the cheaper option. That might have been acceptable if the 5C really was cheap, but in reality the 5S didn’t cost a lot more. So, buy a 5C you might look like a skinflint even though you’d forked out a substantial wad of cash.

Sales of the 5C were nowhere near the levels that Apple was expecting, and the 5S outsold it three-to-one. This led to a shortage of 5S devices in the supply chain and a surplus of 5Cs. It seemed clear that consumers preferred the premium product to the better value proposition, which was probably not lost on Apple when they launched their top-of-the-range grand-and-a-half iPhone XS Max this week.

The iPhone 5S is still supported by Apple and is due to have the new iOS 12 OS available for it, support for the 5C ended in mid-2017. Yes, you could have saved $100 by buying the 5C instead of the 5S, but it wouldn’t have had the life-span. And everyone would have thought you were a cheapskate.

Image credits: Apple

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