$848 for an iPhone 5C? iDon't want

$848 for an iPhone 5C? iDon't want

CUPERTINO, California/SINGAPORE - It was hailed as a "low-cost" handset for the mass market, but the price of Apple's new iPhone 5C has already turned off many potential buyers in Singapore.

At $848, consumers and market researchers agree it is too expensive - even as a mid-range phone.

At its headquarters in California on Wednesday, Apple unveiled two new models of its popular iPhone - the 5C and 5S - targeted at the budget and premium markets respectively.

When it goes on sale in Singapore next Friday, the iPhone 5C will start at $848 for the 16GB version. At $988, consumers will be able to get the 16GB souped-up iPhone 5S.

The budget model's launch confirmed rumours of an entry-level phone to broaden Apple's reach in the smartphone market, particularly in China.

However, Chinese Web users have also dismissed the iPhone 5C as being too pricey, raising questions over Apple's ability to build sales in the world's biggest mobile market.

Consumers here concur.

Administrative assistant Bryan Koh, 23, said he will be sticking to his iPhone 4S for now as he finds the iPhone 5C "too expensive".

Developer Joash Chee, 37, said he would rather buy the iPhone 5S for its advanced features, despite the price difference.

"I was expecting a much lower price for the 5C, but if the difference in price is only $140, I would opt for the phone that is more advanced," he said.

While the iPhone 5C sports the same horsepower as its predecessor, the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5S comes with a processor that is twice as fast.

The iPhone 5S also boasts a fingerprint scanner which lets users scan their fingers to unlock their devices or approve purchases through Apple's iTunes store.

Freelance writer Jimmy Yap, 44, said he will wait for the three local telcos - SingTel, StarHub and M1 - to announce their subsidies next Friday before making a decision on upgrading from his iPhone 4S.

"It is a lot of money to pay unless you buy through a carrier," he said.

In the United States, the iPhone 5C will be on sale for as little as US$99 (S$130), with a mobile subscription plan from a mobile carrier.

Senior analyst Clement Teo from research company Forrester said Apple might have misunderstood the opportunities in the mid-range phone market.

"There is not much price difference between the lower-cost and higher-end iPhone models," said Mr Teo.

Comparatively, mid-range handsets such as Samsung Galaxy Express and Sony Xperia SP sell for only about $600 each, while premium models such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One retail for more than $900 each without a subsidy.

But since most people buy a new phone with a subsidy, it is still too early to tell which model consumers will buy, added Mr Teo.

With the new release, iPhone users here will finally be able to take full advantage of the ultra-fast speeds on 4G networks.

This is because the new iPhone 5S and 5C models support two 4G radio frequency bands - 1,800MHz and 2,600MHz - compared with only one band, 1,800MHz, on the older iPhone 5.

Dual-band support translates to better connection speeds on the devices as the local telcos have deployed their 4G networks in both bands to cover the whole island.

Previously, an iPhone 5 user would find a 4G phone switching to a 3G network in places where the 4G network is based on the 2,600MHz band that the phone does not support.

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