Apple’s iPhone 5c now up for pre-order


CUPERTINO, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: The new iPhone 5C is displayed during an Apple product announcement at the Apple campus on September 10, 2013 in Cupertino, California. The phone is up for pre-order, starting Sept. 13. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
September 13, 2013

Can’t wait to buy a new iPhone? You’re in luck. Apple opened pre-orders Friday for the newest addition to its smartphone family, the lower-cost iPhone 5c, so that eager fans can reserve their very own.

So, who should consider the iPhone 5c? The new plastic-backed phone takes the place that a discounted iPhone 5 would have occupied in the company’s product lineup, so anyone who was waiting for the old phone to drop in price may want to take a serious look at this one.

For those already have last year’s iPhone 5, the 5C isn’t likely to wow you enough to make a purchase, unless you have a serious desire for a phone that comes in pretty colors. (And if that’s your only reasoning, I’d suggest looking into third-party cases, which will clothe your current iPhone in a huge variety of colors and designs.)

The specs on the iPhone 5c are almost exactly the same as the iPhone 5, with a tweak or two. It has the same 4-inch screen and runs the same A6 processing chip; but it is supposed to have better battery life. And there’s the key difference: The 5C is made of colorful plastic, while the old iPhone 5 came in muted shades of slate and black or silver and white. The candy colors, along with the lower price tag, could make the phone attractive to younger users (and their parents’ pocketbooks). The plastic construction should also stand up to a little more wear and tear, though that still shouldn’t encourage anyone to start throwing your phone at the walls.

Those who pick up the iPhone 5c will get to choose it in green, blue, yellow, pink or white. Apple is also selling cases for the 5C t in the same colors, plus black, for $29.

As for that lower price tag, the iPhone 5c costs $99 with 16GB or memory, on-contract with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint. It will set you back $199 for 32GB. T-Mobile customers can get the phone either for $0 down or for $99 down, with an additional 24 monthly payments of $22. Apple’s Web site indicates that pre-ordered phones will arrive on the phone’s launch day, Sept. 20.

For those weighing the iPhone 5C and Apple’s other new phone, iPhone 5S, there are key differences to keep in mind. The iPhone 5s will cost $199, $299 or $399, depending on memory size.

That heavier price tag comes with several features. This smartphone boasts Apple’s higher-end construction using aluminum and glass. It comes in three colors: space gray, silver and gold.

The main differences, however, are in the guts. The iPhone 5S’s A7 chip is a much faster processor that the 5C’s and the older iPhone5. The 5S also packs a motion chip for health and wellness apps, and a fingerprint sensor in the home button. It has a new, larger camera sensor that’s supposed to dramatically improve picture quality, despite the fact that Apple hasn’t added to the 8MP on the previous phone.

Right now, those who are craving the iPhone 5S will have to wait for the retail launch next Friday. So, get the camping gear ready.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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