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9/13/2013
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iPhone 5c Preorders Start: Carrier Pricing Compared

Apple is now accepting preorders for the iPhone 5c, but not the iPhone 5s. Here's a breakdown of what the new smartphones will cost.

iPhone 5c, 5s: 10 Smart Design Choices
iPhone 5c, 5s: 10 Smart Design Choices
(click image for larger view)
Apple began accepting preorders for the iPhone 5c on its website early Friday morning. The 5c is the less-expensive plastic iPhone. It is being sold in five colors: white, green, yellow, pink and blue. According to a quick check of the online Apple Store, all five colors were still available for preorder Friday morning. There have been no sell-outs so far.

The iPhone 5c is sold by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. The device will run on all four carriers' LTE 4G networks and includes the same features no matter the network supporting it. Pricing, however, varies a bit from carrier to carrier.

Starting with AT&T, there are several options for purchasing the iPhone 5c. Customers can choose to upgrade to the 5c as they would any other phone. If that's what they choose, the 16-GB 5c costs $99 and the 32-GB 5c costs $199. Both these options require a two-year contract. AT&T is also selling the 5c with its new AT&T Next plan. The AT&T Next plan does not require down payments and lets people pay for their device over time through monthly installments. (It includes an upgrade program, which lets customers jump to a new device more frequently than once every two years.) Customers who want to pay for their iPhone 5c over time will spend $22 per month for the 16-GB 5c and $27 per month for the 32-GB 5c.

Sprint does not offer a monthly installment option, so Sprint customers have only one purchasing option. Sprint is charging $99 for the 16-GB 5c and $199 for the 32-GB 5c. Both devices require a two-year contract. Sprint differentiates itself from competitors by offering "truly unlimited" LTE 4G service. That means there are no caps on how much data can be used in a single billing period.

Like AT&T, T-Mobile has a monthly option, too. T-Mobile's monthly plan is called Simple Choice. With the Simple Choice plan, T-Mobile is asking for $0 down for the 16-GB 5c followed by 24 monthly payments of $22. If you want the 32-GB 5c with T-Mobile, you'll have to plunk down $99 and then spend $22.91 per month for 24 months. T-Mobile customers who also want to upgrade via T-Mobile's Jump program will need to spend an extra $10 per month on top of these prices.

[ Read about T-Mobile's new phone upgrade plan: T-Mobile Shakes Up Market With Fast Phone Upgrades. ]

Verizon Wireless offers a couple of purchasing options. First, like Sprint, it is offering the iPhone 5c with a two-year contract. Verizon is charging $99 for the 16-GB 5c and $199 for the 32-GB 5c. That's only if you sign a new commitment with the carrier. Verizon also offers a plan to defer the cost over time. The Verizon Edge plan, which includes an early upgrade program, requires monthly payments (cost of the phone divided by 24), too. For the iPhones, the 16-GB iPhone 5c will cost about $23 per month and the 32-GB 5c will cost about $27 per month. Customers can upgrade once every six months, but need to make sure they've paid half the retail price of their device before they move on to a new phone.

Last, consumers always have the option of purchasing their device at full retail price. The 16-GB iPhone 5c carries a retail price of $549, and the 32-GB 5c carries a retail price of $649. Customers who purchase their phone outright will not need to sign a new contract with any carrier.

If you know you're not interested in a financing plan and don't mind signing a new contract, you can score a small discount at the register if you buy your iPhone from Walmart or Best Buy. For example, Walmart is asking customers to pay $79 for the 16-GB iPhone 5c, instead of the $99 charged by Apple and the carriers.

For unknown reasons, Apple is not accepting preorders for the iPhone 5s at this time. The device will go on sale at Apple and carrier stores Friday, Sept. 20. The 5s costs $199 for the 16-GB model, $299 for the 32-GB model, and $399 for the 64-GB model. Those prices all require two-year contracts with the carrier of your choice.

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