Chinese netizens feel 'cheated' that the iPhone 5c is still expensive

Reactions to the iPhone 5s and 5c from Sina Weibo users were largely unenthusiastic

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 12:20pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 11:11am

While China may be one of the first markets to gain early access to Apple’s newest smartphone models, netizens who watched Apple’s latest press conference were largely unimpressed with the recently announced iPhone 5s and 5c.

Discussion of the new iPhone models quickly became a trending topic on Chinese social network Sina Weibo, generating over three million comments and shared articles. Many image-concious internet users expressed disappointment and said that the design of the iPhone 5s didn't look like “much of an upgrade.” Others saw the phone's new gold colour as unnecessarily "gaudy."

Video: Beijing Apple iPhone 5s & iPhone 5c Launch

“The fingerprint scanner feature is interesting,” one netizen wrote, commenting on the iPhone 5s’s new technology which allows for the phone to be unlocked via fingerprint in lieu of a password. “But the phone is still so small.”

The comment of “too small” was echoed by other netizens who had hoped that Apple would reveal a new phone more similar to the large devices that rival Samsung has been producing, such as the Galaxy Note.

Apple’s new ‘budget’ iPhone 5c received the most criticism, with internet users lashing out at the device’s price, which is listed on the mainland online Apple Store as 4,488 yuan (HK$ 5,687) for a 16 gigabyte model. The price of the already existing iPhone 5 is 5,288 yuan (HK $6,701). 

The devices are priced substantially cheaper In Hong Kong, where the sixteen gigabyte models of the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s will sell at HK$ 4,688 and HK$5,588 respectively. This means that mainland customers coming to Hong Kong would be able to buy an iPhone 5s for the price they would have to spend to get the 5c back home. 

“I feel cheated!” one Weibo user wrote. “The ‘c’ in iPhone 5c is supposed to mean ‘cheap,’ but now that they’ve announced the price, I can see that it actually isn’t that much cheaper at all!”

Others ridiculed the iPhone 5c’s plastic case and said that the phone’s components were “too similar to the already existing iPhone 5.”

“All that’s really different about the iPhone 5c is its plastic case [and colours]…and they’re still selling this thing so expensively?” a Weibo user asked. “And now on the official Apple website they say they’re going to stop selling the [regular] iPhone 5?”

Complaints that the iPhone 5 was being discontinued in favor of the 5s and 5c were common, and an internet meme created for the website Buzzfeed that compared the 5c’s plastic exterior and bright colours to Crocs footwear was widely shared.

Not all netizens were negative. Some said that Apple had launched cheaper versions of its devices in the past, and many questioned why everyone assumed that the iPhone 5c was going to be substantially cheaper.

“The 5c is colourful and cute… The ‘c’ obviously refers to the different colours of the device, who said that it meant cheap?” a Weibo user wrote.

“Ah, the 5c. This is just like the mini all over again,” another said, referring to Apple’s often-forgotten iPod mini, a budget-priced audio player that also came in multiple colours and was discontinued in 2005.

Another wave of iPhone excitement has swept Japan, where Apple fans were queueing on Wednesday for the new handset, more than a week before it hits the shelves.

A 44-year-old Japanese businessman began lining up outside the Apple store in Tokyo's glitzy shopping district of Ginza on Tuesday, hours before the US IT giant unveiled two new iPhones.

"I'm glad to have secured first place," Tetsuya Tamura said, as he sat on a camping chair Tweeting on his iPhone 4, adding the number of people following him on the microblog has shot up by 1,000 since he began his vigil.

"Being here gets my adrenaline going," Tamura said. "I am using up my annual leave to be here, but getting the first handset will make it all worth it."

The iPhone goes on sale in Japan on September 20.