Editorial by Andrew Kameka on Wednesday March 19, 2014.
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Apple yesterday revealed a cheaper iPhone 5c that obviously looks like an attempt to drum up sales for the struggling phone. Apple has never revealed how many 5c's have been sold since the phone was introduced last fall, but plenty of anecdotal evidence and reports from analysts have suggested that the numbers aren't good. Apple's solution to the problem appears to be to debut a new 8GB model of the iPhone 5c that drops the price by GBP 40 (US $66). Is that really the right move?
On the surface, it would seem that creating a larger price gap between the cheapest iPhone and its most expensive high-end models would make sense if Apple wants to reach more people. The 5c's price has always been seen as a barrier to ownership. At the original price, someone could spend a little more and get a more powerful iPhone 5s, or spend less and get an iPhone 4s or refurbished iPhone 5. The new price makes it theoretically cheaper to purchase an iPhone, but it's by no means cheap. It's still an expensive purchase in Europe, and it makes even less sense in the US, which probably explains why Apple hasn't yet made the 8GB model available domestically.
The 8GB model makes even less sense when you factor in the experience that iPhone 5c owners can expect from a phone with that little bit of storage space. When I first launched my 16GB iPhone 5s, more than 3GB was already accounted for with iOS 7. Within a few months, I had already used 15 GB, meaning my phone was nearing its limit. I removed my apps and games list to only those that I actively used, and took off all the music that I had stored on the device. Then I deleted Vine and other storage hogs, backed up the hundreds of photos I had taken, and then removed them as well. Considering that I take a lot of photos and consume media, I've had to repeat the process once or twice (writing this article reminded me to check and I'm down to 800 MB left).
Someone who owns an 8GB iPhone 5c will have an even tougher time. The phone will likely offer less than 5GB of accessible space, a small sum when you factor in how quickly space can be gobbled by photos, games, and music. An 8GB iPhone 5c owner will not consume as much media by necessity, but he or she will be constantly forced to limit activities because of the small amount of space. For the amount of money spent on the phone, that's not a good thing. The lack of external storage, and possible limitations of networks for relying on the cloud, makes 8GB a paltry amount of space. I faced the same issue on my original Google Nexus 7, but at least that was a tablet that I only used at home, so reliance on cloud data was more manageable. Getting a discount on price at the expense of usability seems like an unwelcome bargain.
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.