So much for all the talk of Apple offering an inexpensive smartphone to compete with cheap smartphone players like Xiaomi in China! At Apple’s press event today, the company indeed announced the launch of an “inexpensive” iPhone model called the 5C. But in China, the company’s official website has revealed that citizens of the Middle Kingdom won’t be getting much of a deal: the iPhone 5C is priced at 4488 RMB, or more than $735.
Given than the 5S costs 5288 RMB ($866), one has to wonder who would bother with the 5C when the 5S is available for just 17 percent more. It’s also worth pointing out that, as has been the case with all of Apple’s previous releases thanks to China’s import duties, the phone will cost considerably more in China than in the US, where the 5C is retailing for $549. In fact, Americans will be able to buy an iPhone 5S for significantly less ($649) than what it costs Chinese people to buy an iPhone 5C. Americans who want to splurge for the 32 GB version of the 5S will be paying about the same as Chinese users buying a 16 GB iPhone 5C. For this reason, gray-market imports will likely be a big part of China’s Apple sales once again, even though the phones are being simultaneously launched in China and the US for the first time ever.
And indeed, China’s Apple fans don’t seem to be too excited about the 5C. ‘The C stands for costly’ is a joke that several people have made, but the deepest impression the 5C seems to have left on Sina Weibo at the moment is that it’s pretty expensive for something that looks like a potato peeler. (The latter joke is actually about the plastic cases Apple has designed for the phones, but it has been one of the most widely-repeated messages about the iPhones this evening).