The plastic iPhone is back. Well, that's what the (rather convincing) rumours say.
Next month, we're expecting Apple will unveil its first ever mid-range smartphone: a device that brings up-to-date specs to a price point dominated by second-rung Androids such as the HTC One Mini, Google Nexus 4 and Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. It represents a dramatic change in strategy for Apple, which has until now relied on its previous-generation models as more budget-friendly options. And we think its combination of new-ish tech, iOS software and the Apple marque has the potential to make it massive.
Read on to find out what you can expect when the wrappers come off in September.
Image credit: Sonny Dickson
It'll be called the iPhone 5C
iPhone 5C leaked packaging
Leaked images of packaging suggest that this model – usually referred to as “the plastic iPhone” or “budget iPhone” – will be called the iPhone 5C. Further "confirmation" of its name came in a story published today by Japanese site Macotakara.
Apple has history with adding the letter S to the end of iPhone names, of course, but C is a new direction. What does it stand for? “Colour” perhaps (see below for our reasoning)?
It'll be made of plastic and glass
Green iPhone 5C
iPhone 5C bottom
The vast majority of leaked photos and videos of the iPhone 5C are of a plastic-bodied handset that looks to be the exact same size as the iPhone 5. Apple's iPhones have previous with plastic – the iPhone 3G and 3GS both used it to pleasing effect – and to bring it back here would create a clear divide between the premium and mass-market iPhone models.
In most images, the rear panel of the iPhone 5C is white, the front black and the screen seems to conform to the proportions of the iPhone 5’s 4in display. We’d expect it to offer the same 1136 x 640 (326ppi) resolution, too, as that will mean it's compatible with every current App Store app, and the iPod Touch has proven that lower-power internals can do a great job of supporting that resolution already.
It’s been strongly rumoured that the 5C will also be available in a range of bright colours, similar to the current crop of iPod Touch models. That would certainly make sense, given competing manufacturers' newfound love of customisability.
Image credit: Sonny Dickson
It'll use internals from the iPhone 5... or perhaps the iPod Touch
There hasn’t been much in the way of believable leaked information about the iPhone 5C’s internal components, but it seems sensible to speculate that it'll use the same dual-core A6 processor as the iPhone 5, as well as 1GB of RAM, with options for 8GB, 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of built-in storage. If that turns out to be the case, it could well be that Apple uses the release of the 5C to phase out the iPhone 5 model completely, and will stop manufacturing it.
The alternative would be a lower-spec device based on the Apple A5 internals of the iPod Touch. That would leave space for the iPhone 5 to remain in the range, and would probably be cheaper for Apple to manufacture.
It'll pack the iPhone 5's 8MP camera
Coloured iPhone 5C models
While early rumours suggested the iPhone 5C might have a 5MP camera to keep costs down, it now seems as though it may include the same excellent 8MP BSI module as the current iPhone 5. It will also likely feature the same 1.2MP front-facing camera as the 5.
It'll be out in September (UK)
iPhone 5C front panel
If recent rumours prove correct, the iPhone 5C will be announced alongside the next flagship iPhone at an Apple event on 10th September. Apple sometimes begins shipping products on the day of their announcement, but in the case of iPhones there’s usually a few weeks’ wait until they’re available to buy. So if we had to make a guess, we’d say the 5C will be on sale in the UK in late September or early October.
Price-wise, while the iPhone 5C has long been billed as the “budget” iPhone, it won’t be startlingly cheap. A SIM-free price of between US$400 and US$500 has been mentioned in several stories. Not peanuts, then, but far cheaper than the equivalent iPhone 5.