Apple’s iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C: Three ways the rumor mill got ahead of the tech giant

September 11, 2013

Any avid tech blog reader came into Apple’s Tuesday event well-informed, as media outlets had successfully scooped just about every announcement at the company’s event, from the fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5S to the candy colors of the iPhone 5C. Apple’s marketing chief, Phil Schiller, even took a moment during his presentation to joke that people probably already knew what he was going to show them, then added that it was great that people were so excited.

But never fear — this is not the end of the crazy iPhone rumor mill. There were quite a few things that Apple didn’t announce that some folks were still expecting to see.

A really cheap phone: Yes, iPhone fans got a cheaper model, but it’s still a stretch to call the iPhone 5C a significantly less expensive phone. At $99 or $199, depending on memory, it’s firmly in the “mid-range” category, with an unsubsidized price tag of $549. And if Apple was looking to pick up more overseas marketshare — where subsidies tend to be less generous — customers are looking at even steeper price tags with tariffs and taxes.

According to Apple’s Chinese site, the phone will cost $733 (or 4,488 RMB). That’s cheaper than the iPhone 5S, which costs $864 (5,288 RMB), but it hardly earns the iPhone 5C a spot in the bargain bin. Apple’s game here, analysts say, is not necessarily to pick up immediate gains in markets like China, where smartphones are poised to grow. Instead, the company is looking to improve its profit margins and lowering production costs. Making the iPhone 5C with plastic, they say, is just the way to do that.

Apple TV announcement: In the last few rumor cycles, reports surfaced that Apple would release an update to its software for the Apple TV set-top box. That whisper grew louder when All Things Digital’s Peter Kafka cited unnamed sources saying that the company would make it easier for Apple TV users to share content between them.

But there wasn’t even a whisper of an Apple TV announcement at Tuesday’s event.

Speculation that Apple has some sort of grand plan for the television has been swirling for a long time. Chief executive Tim Cook, however, hasn’t said much except that Apple has a “very grand vision” for television. There’s still a chance, as Business Insider noted, that the firm may have something new to share about Apple TV on Sept. 18 when it releases iOS 7 to the world.

Any other products besides iPhones: Apple’s event was very focused — iPhones, iOS 7 and nothing else — which threw buckets of cold water on anyone who was expecting more.

And there were plenty of candidates in the running. According to the informal online survey site Polar, sizable chunks of Apple fans were holding hope for new iPads, a new iPod Touch, new Macs and even the much-rumored wearable “iWatch.” A full 57 percent of those who took the survey thought that the company would pull at least one rabbit out of its hat as “one more thing.”

Related stories:

Apple unveils cheaper iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S with fingerprint sensor

Wonkblog: Apple is thinking about the mobile phone market in a whole new way

Apple announced a pair of new iPhones on Tuesday. Brian Fung of 'The Switch' sits down with host Nia-Malika Henderson to discuss upgrade options, password security, and privacy considerations with biometric data. (The Washington Post)

The Switch: Everyone calm down about the iPhone’s fingerprint scanner

Follow The Post’s new tech blog, The Switch, where technology and policy connect.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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