Packaging labeled 'iPhone 5C' shows up in China, leads to more color iPhone speculation

Packages with the branding "iPhone 5c" have shown up in China, which indicate nothing more than someone, potentially Apple, potentially a knock-off company, has manufactured some boxes that read "iPhone 5c" on them. That would be C as in "Color", and likely refer to the rumored less expensive iPhone. All we know right now, however, is that someone posted it on the WeiPhone forums. But here's the thing:

Apple can finalizes product names at the last minute. Engineers, designers, etc. can all happily work off of code names. So while it's theoretically possible Apple marketing has locked down names for their September products in order to start getting packaging and collateral made, it's also possible that stuff is pretty quickly generated these days and there's no reason to lock anything down two months ahead of time.

The packaging, as presented, isn't the typical cardboard box used for the iPhone since it's launch in 2007, but something that appears closer akin to the plastic ones used for the iPod touch. That could make sense for a less expensive product. However, the iPad mini still came in a box, and the iPod touch's plastic packaging is clear (with a white paper insert), not white plastic, and the design appears far more refined than what's pictured above. Here's the packaging for the last three iPhone models and the current iPod touch:

iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPod touch 5 packaging

As to the name itself, it doesn't follow any modern Apple branding conventions I can recall, where "mini", "nano", and other secondary words have been the typical modifiers. Then again, neither did iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4S, and neither would iPhone 5s. Here's how the lettering on the box, rotated in Photoshop, looks when compared to the current type used for existing iPhone lines on Apple.com:

iPhone 5c compared to iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 type

So take a look at the packaging and let me know what you think of the iPhone 5c-as-in-Color theory or whether it's dodgy enough you'll be calling less scoop and more shenanigans? And if any one sees an iPhone 5X-as-in-eXtra-large peeking out anywhere, flag that bad boy too!

Source: WeiPhone forums

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Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Packaging labeled 'iPhone 5C' shows up in China, leads to more color iPhone speculation

34 Comments

I would have to agree, it does seem that they don't know the word 'cheap'. Even when talking about competitors, Schiller seemed reluctant to use the word 'cheap':
"Android-powered devices are the kinds of phones that are given as free replacements to feature phones."

Maybe intentionally avoided, but still. (This is meant as them avoiding the word jokingly, not to start an Android/iOS thing, as I'd expect something like this from Apple's VP of Marketing)

Are you sure he was not referring to iPhone 4, a three-year-old hardware desing that is now given as a freebie (when heavily-operator-subsidized) for feature phone converts? Of course, iP4 is not cheap as such, since it costs around USD 400 unsubsidized. (Which is quite amazing given its utterly-outdated camera, slow 3G chip, antenna issues, mediocre screen, poor earpiece, poorly-performing microphone, slow iOS, etc. Apple really, really needs amodern cheap iPhone. Really)

$449, but yeah. This is a good way to stop Apple's fragmentation, if they make a free more modern phone, that would be better than keeping a two year old phone as their best seller.

Surely it would have at least mostly 4s internals plus LTE. Lacking LTE is really going to hurt this thing if not. Otherwise the 4s will be two years old at the point this thing hits the market and that means Apple should be able to continue manufacturing these parts cheaper and just basically giving this thing a sexy new coat(s) of paint. Irregardless, I will still go for the top of the line model. Is it too much to hold out hope for a larger screen this year? Really hoping Apple will break predictability. Tim Cook did say they were excited to be bringing new products this year.

The thinner typeface certainly resembles the back shell shown by DetroitBORG on YouTube. Having said that, the leaked cases with FCC markings have a much thicker, bolder, font than these cases.

I think the updated iPhone 5 should be called the iPhone Pro, the less expensive one can then just be called the iPhone.

That doesn't fit with Apple's philosophy. Apple wouldn't make an iPhone made just for pros. Apple is killing the pro-Sumer products (higher end products that regular consumers buy); Apple is shifting their focus to ensure that pro really means pro. See the Mac Pro. Any regular consumer who buys the Mac Pro is completely wasting their money.

That would hold true but there is one flaw in your theory I don't see Apple changing the name of the MacBook Pro and that is targeted for both the normal consumer and the pro hence why they push for back to school. So they could make a Pro iPhone one targeted for business since it is being used more and more for business. I'm not saying the will but they could.

I disagree. Look at the MacBook Air. That is the one targeted to normal consumers. (Apple chose to prioritize, upgrade, and highlight the new airs with the Haswrll chip, not the pros) Normal people do not use the extra horsepower of the pro; you dont need a pro taptop for Facebook. However, those going to school may need the pro for graphics and video/photo editing (which is what the pro is for).

You even said the pro term could be used for businesses. Pro means just that, not for the normal person. For Apple, pro means extra features or power. I cannot see Apple using the term pro with a product that (since the advent if tr App Store) the extra power has been highlighted for use in games.

The rounded edges throw me off, even the iPod touch is an actual corner. I can see the packaging being some sort of amalgamation of current iPhone box and iPod touch plastic (to save on packaging costs and allow the colors of the product itself to be seen.

Though this certainly wouldn't be as cool of an amalgamation as Dark Claw was… ;)

I don't know if this packaging is real, but I agree with the concept. Moving away from the 3.5" and to 4.0" 16:9 would help both Apple and developers and you don't see many phones anymore without LTE. Plus with tight tolerances on the 5, a budget version of the 5 may not make financial sense to Apple. Replacing the 4S/5 with a plastic bodied phone (ala 3G/3GS) based around the 5 chipset makes a lot of sense to me.

I don't see the 5 going away unless the 5c has comparable guts. Apple has been keeping at least three iPhones on the market for the last couple of years. But then again, most of Apples product lines only have two layers: Macbook Air/Macbook Pro; iPad/iPad Mini etc. It will be interesting to see.

iPod Line up;

-iPod Shuffle, iPod Nano, iPod Classic, iPod Touch

Mac Desktop Lineup;

-Mac mini, Mac mini Server, iMac , Mac Pro

If this is real then it would make sense for them to color the boxes the same as the device for each varying color its offered in. This would really put the colors on display in a good way. This is probably the white box for the white device.

The "C" as in "cheap" doesn't refer to the phone itself but instead to the cheapos who won't pony up enough for the real iPhone ;-)

This is a great move for Apple. There is a huge market of people who cannot afford $300+ phones. This allows apple to go back to their colorful options and give customers newer specs in a free phone instead of buying a phone from 2010. Hopefully it will be an lte phone with a slower processor and weaker camera then the upcoming iphone 5s

Yeah, basically an iPhone 5 in a plastic outer shell that comes in several colors. I think that would sell pretty well, especially if the price is right. Like around the same price as a 4S or maybe a little less.