Apple unveiled a cheaper line of iPhones on Tuesday at its Silicon Valley headquarters with the aim of boosting sales in emerging markets including India and China.
The iconic consumer electronics company introduced a new top-end phone, too, the iPhone 5S, which boasts a more powerful chip and better camera than current models, as well as Touch ID, a security system that allows users to unlock the phone via fingerprint recognition.
The cheaper iPhone 5C is Apple’s first attempt to launch a new non-premium iPhone, in a move many analysts see as one of the company’s most important product launches ever.
Apple, which launched the smartphone revolution with its 2007 introduction of the iPhone, is under increasing pressure from Samsung and other manufacturers of cheaper phones that run Google’s Android operating system.
The cheaper line of iPhones will be available in green, white, blue, red and yellow and include many of the same features that make the company’s premium phones so popular, including compatibility with Apple’s latest mobile operating system iOS 7. The biggest difference to current iPhones is the phone body, which is made of steel-reinforced plastic, rather than solid aluminium.
“It’s new and familiar at the same time,” Apple’s design chief Jony Ive said.
The phones are meant to appeal also to consumers in the U.S. and other advanced economies who balk at paying the high prices of top-end smart phones.
In the U.S. it will cost $99 for a 16GB model and $199 for a 32GB model, in conjunction with signing a two-year contract with a mobile carrier, Apple said. Apple will supply rubberised protection cases for the phones for $29.
The iPhone 5S will cost $199 for a 16GB version and up to $399 for the 64GB model, in conjunction with completion of a new order.
Both models will be available on September 20, 2013 in the U.S., Australia, China, Canada, Germany, Japan, Singapore and Britain, and in 100 countries by the end of the year.