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Inside the iPhone 5c

A teardown of the iPhone 5c reveals what many consumers already suspected — the c in the name could stand for “copy.” Analysts at IHS say that on the inside, the 5C is in many ways a copy of the iPhone 5.

“The iPhone 5c is basically an iPhone 5 in a plastic disguise,” said Andrew Rassweiler, senior director, cost benchmarking services for IHS. “Just as in the original iPhone 5, the 5c uses an Apple A6 processor, a 4-inch retina display, and low-power Double Data Rate 2 (DDR2) DRAM—among other commonalities. Because of this, the iPhone 5c benefits from the normal cost reductions that typically occur for electronic devices during the period of a year.” (Scroll down for a look at the iPhone 5c components.)

IHS estimates that it costs Apple $173 to build the 16GB version of the 5c, which retails for $549 without a contract. Manufacturing represents just $7.00 of that cost; the rest is materials. The cost to source and build the 32GB version of the 5C is $183, according to IHS. The firm says the cost to source and build the iPhone 5 was $197.

There is one key difference in the iPhone 5 and the 5c: The 5C supports more LTE bands. Qualcomm’s WTR1605L RF transceiver supports up to seven simultaneous LTE connections. The Qualcomm transceiver in the iPhone 5 supported just five simultaneous connections.

“Many expected Apple to take an affordable strategy with the iPhone 5c,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS. Lam said many analysts had expected to see a phone priced at around $400 without subsidies, aimed at developing markets like China. “However, the reality of the iPhone 5c is completely different, with Apple offering a phone with a $173 BOM and manufacturing cost, and a $549 price tag—without subsidies,” he said.


Martha DeGrasse
Martha DeGrasse
Martha DeGrasse is the publisher of Network Builder Reports ( At RCR, Martha authored more than 20 in-depth feature reports and more than 2,400 news articles. She also created the Mobile Minute and the 5 Things to Know Today series. Prior to joining RCR Wireless News, Martha produced business and technology news for CNN and Dow Jones in New York and managed the online editorial group at Hoover’s Online before taking a number of years off to be at home when her children were young. Martha is the board president of Austin's Trinity Center and is a member of the Women's Wireless Leadership Forum.

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