|Chinese carriers are heavily subsidizing the iPhone 5s and 5c to make them affordable in the country, rate cards show. Off-contract, even a 16GB 5c is 4,488 yuan, or over $730. China Unicom however has eight plans under which a 5c is available for free. At China Telecom, even the 5s is available for "free" under three plans, although these involve extremely long contracts and/or high fees.
Similar options are available in the UK and Japan, but are far more essential in China, where iPhone prices are inflated and a 5c can cost as much as someone's monthly salary. Many analysts and investors were disappointed when the 5c proved to be little more than a plastic iPhone 5, as they had been hoping Apple could make deeper inroads into countries like China and India with a phone costing less than $400 off-contract. In the US, an unlocked 16GB 5c is $549.