updated 08:00 pm EDT, Thu September 5, 2013
Follows from Telus report, suggests Apple to keep 16GB as entry model
Just one day after reports that Canadian carrier Telus is going to discontinue the larger-capacity iPhone 5 models on September 28 -- one day after the expected arrival of the forthcoming iPhone 5S -- Vodafone Germany has been seen to be taking the same action on both the 32GB and 64GB iPhone 5 units, as well as the 16GB iPhone 4S through the leak of an internal email. The move reinforces speculation that Apple plans to fully retire the iPhone 4 design and make the 16GB iPhone 5 its "entry level" phone, with the "iPhone 5C" as the mid-range offering.
It had been thought that the iPhone 5C, which from what is known of it thus far, is very similar internally to the iPhone 5, would be one of just two offerings from Apple following its introduction alongside the iPhone 5S, the premium phone. While retaining the previous-year model as a lower-cost contract phone is traditional with Apple, the fact that only the 16GB iPhone 5 is being kept would appear to indicate that the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S may now start at a standard 32GB of storage and go up from there -- raising the possibility of a 128GB model (presumably limited to the more expensive 5S).
The confirmation of the removal of the iPhone 4S casts doubt on often-accurate KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo's prediction that Apple would drop the iPhone 5 entirely but keep the iPhone 4S as the entry-level option. Critics had pointed out that the iPhone 4S uses the discontinued 30-pin connector, making it unlikely that Apple would continue to support it without modifications to change that port to a Lightning connector.
How Apple will market the 16GB iPhone 5 as its entry-level model is difficult to pinpoint -- the iPhone 5C is estimated to sell for around $400-$500 unlocked, and might thus be positioned where the iPhone 4S is now, at $99 with a two-year contract. However, conventional thinking on the iPhone 5C has been that it is designed and aimed at the developing markets of the world, where prepaid phones are dominant. It is possible that Apple intends the iPhone 5 to take on this role, being free with contract or sold off-contract for just less than $400 -- leaving the colorful iPhone 5C to be marketed towards to younger and female demographics as a fashion-conscious iPhone, with the iPhone 5S being repositioned as a more professional-level offering.
Apple has scheduled a media event in Cupertino for September 10, where details on the next iPhones and the debut of iOS 7 are expected to be revealed. The new iPhones are likely to appear at retail starting on September 20, with the iPhone 5S possible delayed until a week after that. New iPad models are now seen as unlikely to appear at the event, but could be released shortly thereafter or in early October.