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New iPhone’s differences include higher price tag, social status

After Apple’s unveiling of the iPhone 5C and 5S, users might have a little more to be concerned about than figuring out which shade of pastel will go best with their handbags.

The iPhone 5C, Apple’s dual-purpose answer to the public’s demand for something both eye- and wallet-friendly, is listed to sell at nearly half the price of the iPhone 5S. It’s a much-needed saving grace for the legions of fans who can’t afford to break the bank every time Apple rolls out another model.

It’s also creating a national discussion on the hierarchy it may cause among smartphone users.

While the iPhone 5C is listed to sell at $99 after signing a 2-year contract, the 5S is listed to sell at $199 after the same signing. It’s not like there’s a slew of differences between the 5C and the 5S. Yes, the 5C’s aesthetics are unlike anything that Apple has ever put out, but one could also argue that the 5S’s sleek metallics mirror that innovation, if only in a less “bubble-gum pop” sort of way.

Truthfully speaking, the difference in these devices comes down to their cost — i.e., how much you’re willing to pay for your device.

The 5C’s colors may serve less as a cosmetic decoration and more as a calling card for managing a tighter budget than your peers. Think about the hierarchy that’s always existed among smartphone labels, and you’ll start to see the subtle status elevations that come with owning certain products at certain times.

Things like Apple’s characteristic “Sent from my iPhone” email signature serve a dual purpose. These are things exclusive to the iPhone as a device, yes, but they’re also exclusive to “the iPhone” as an entity — less as a technology and more as a financial achievement.

It’s safe to say that few have ever benefited from knowing the kind of device they were just emailed from; certain features exist on the iPhone for the sole purpose of distinguishing the brand from its competitors.

If this weren’t the case, we’d be getting a lot more emails that ended with “Sent from my Dell.”

If “Sent from my iPhone” was meant to distinguish Apple products from those of their competitors, the massive difference in the 5S and 5C’s colorings might exist to produce that same kind of dissention — only this time, within the brand itself.

Rachel Quester of NPR commented on the social stigmas that Apple’s new release is geared to create. “An iPhone is an iPhone. But now there’s a clear, and quite colorful, distinction between who paid the big bucks and who decided to go cheap.”

Whether or not this first-world social stigma was something that Apple predicted in the iPhone 5C’s development isn’t something we can say with absolute certainty. However, one can say with certainty that it’s rarely bad news for a company when its customers start distancing themselves from said company’s less-profitable products.

 Senior staff columnist Cara Smith is a communications junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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