APPLE dashed hopes of a 'cheap iPhone' last night with a new colourful plastic model that will cost at least €600 to buy without being tied to a mobile contract when it goes on sale in Ireland next month.
The iPhone 5C was launched as the cheaper of two new smartphones from the US tech giant. It will feature the same shape and screen as the existing iPhone 5, but will be made in cheaper plastic and will come in a range of colours.
Apple also launched an upgraded high-end smartphone, the 5S, which features a fingerprint identification scanner aimed at replacing smartphone passwords. The handset also comes with a high-end camera, faster graphics and will be available in a golden colour. The phone will cost a minimum of €700 unlocked – or without a contract– when it arrives in Ireland next month.
The company has lowered the price of its existing mid-range iPhone 4S to €400 (unlocked), while it will no longer sell its current entry-level model, the iPhone 4.
The head of Ireland's largest mobile phone retail chain said that while it was a missed opportunity for Apple in terms of pricing, the colourful handsets would prove to be popular with customers.
"It's a bit of a shame that they didn't bring the new phones in at a lower price point," said Peter Scott, head of Carphone Warehouse in Ireland. "I was hoping that they could come in significantly lower than that. At that price, it will be very hard to see it on prepay. However, the colours on the iPhone 5C will work really well. We know this because when we do colour exclusives on handsets, it usually has a good reaction."
Mr Scott also praised the improved battery life.
"The camera sounds fantastic and a longer battery life will be very welcome," he said. "I'm not too sure about the fingerprint security feature, it may be gimmicky."
Apple also announced that its updated operating system, iOS 7, will be available to download free from September 18. New phones will also come with a number of free apps such as iMovie, iPhoto and iWork.
As of last night, a launch date for Ireland was not announced. The handsets will be available in big European countries such as Germany and France on September 20.