The iPhone 5c (2013)
As mainstream iPhones started to become more premium devices, Apple decided to test the waters back in 2013 by offering a more “fun” low-cost iPhone that it hoped would be a hit with younger customers and others who couldn’t afford the more expensive iPhone 5s, or simply weren’t willing to shell out that much money.
The result was the iPhone 5c, which was basically a re-imagined version of the 2012 iPhone 5, dropped into a plastic shell and offered in five different colours.
This was actually Apple’s first attempt at selling the iPhone in anything other than basic black, grey, white, and silver colours, but sadly, it failed to gain any real traction. The plastic casings weren’t even as nice as those used on the 2008–2009 iPhone 3G/3GS models, and were definitely a big step down from the more elegant designs of the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5 that had come before.
It was also still “last year’s model,” and yet, it sold for only $100 less than the iPhone 5s, which offered a 64-bit A7 chip and a Touch ID sensor. This put it above the price of most other similarly equipped Android smartphones.
Apple also tried to put such a positive spin on the fact that it was made from plastic — even going to far as to use the phrase “unapologetically plastic” in its marketing videos — that it backfired. It ultimately sounded like it was trying too hard, and the design really did seem to go against its core brand.
Fortunately, Apple learned its lesson from the iPhone 5c. Later wallet-friendly iPhone models either used tried-and-true designs that had already proven their appeal, like the original iPhone SE, or they simply scaled down the features of current models while offering the same base specs, like the iPhone XR.