Surprise! The iPhone Is Still A Status Symbol



5c5sPhoto: Courtesy of Apple.


Apple may have tried to democratize its most beloved product with the iPhone 5C, but it doesn't seem to be working. Though the colorful, plastic version of that sacred Cupertino aesthetic starts at only $99 for the 16GB, The Wall Street Journal reports that presales and today's rush show a dramatic preference toward the more expensive 5S — and stores abroad quickly ran through their 5S stock. Apple reportedly stocked more of the 5C, operating on the (totally reasonable) assumption that people would prefer the cheaper option.

Employees at the Soho location wouldn't comment when asked whether the 5S was selling faster, but we did a quick, informal survey of customers in line to buy the phone at an AT&T store. Not one single person in the long line was waiting for the C. As one man put it, "I don't think there's even a line for that."

At $199, with a two-year contract, for the 16GB, the 5S is in line with Apple's usual price point. Perhaps, people are just used to spending money on iPhones, so it doesn't hurt as much? Or maybe — we're willing to bet — Apple products still act as a status marker, empowering users with a certain snootiness that other phones just don't provide. Since the 5C is visually differentiated from its more expensive counterpart, with bright colors and a plastic shell, users going for the status symbol of an iPhone would, perhaps, be deterred from purchasing the obviously cheaper version. Or rather yet, this could all just be a rumor that Apple is spreading to get people to shell out for the fancy version? That doesn't mean that Apple automatically wins the market game, though. Samsung sold more than twice the number of phones Apple did in the second quarter of this year.

Still, though, the trend is strong. Furthermore, the 5S comes in the ostentatiously fancy gold version. As one Beijing man told The Wall Street Journal, "I don't care what's inside the device. Chinese people like gold." Judging by the reactions we saw when the news of the phone broke, Americans don't mind gold, either. (The Wall Street Journal)