The iPhone Pro

We had all heard the rumors prior to the big announcement, but yesterday it was all out there in the open for the world to see. There were now two iPhones: the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S. But what struck me about the two models wasn’t that there was now a low-cost version of the phone that changed the game, but that one of them was significantly better than the other.

Just a few years ago, we had a low-end Mac that fit into the lineup. It was made with a plastic case that was, for the most part, seamless. And it was flanked by more powerful models with higher options. Is the iPhone 5S now really the iPhone Pro?

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The Argument For and Against the iPhone 5C

In years past, the problem that I saw with the low-cost iPhone rumors was that there was no reason to enter the market. As of Monday, there was a very clear delineation in where each model of iPhone would go, and how much it would cost. Were things to have followed normal procedures, the iPhone 4S would go free, the iPhone 5 would sell for $99, and then the iPhone 5S would be $199, $299 and $399. This pretty much guaranteed that whatever iPhone you owned would be considered current up to three years back, which is a decent return on your initial investment. But apparently, not good enough.

So I always thought that making some other iPhone that was made to be cheaper didn’t follow Apple’s train of logic. And really, I’m not sure I do today. The iPhone 5C is neat in that it comes in colors other than black and white, but the specs are very similar to the iPhone 5. In fact, if you own an iPhone 5 today, I don’t know if the 5C is a compelling enough upgrade to make.

I don't think we'll be seeing many watermelon colored iPhones in boardrooms anytime soon.

I don’t think we’ll be seeing many watermelon colored iPhones in boardrooms anytime soon.

But, as usual, I am just an American, and as such I think the world revolves around me. Truth be told, there is an entire world of people out there for whom the iPhone 5’s price range was just out of reach, and that’s likely part of the motivation here. $99 is not a whole lot less that $199, but really, that can be a world of difference for some people. And if you look just at the U.S. market, there are still parents who can now buy their kid a new iPhone — arguably one that a child or teen might find more appealing — for a relatively reasonable price. As the father of two kids (both still too young for mobile devices), I can appreciate how spending $200 for two iPhones around Christmas time would be more appealing than spending $400.

Going Pro

The iPhone 5S then, is a significant upgrade. Although it was rumored to be just a speed bump as per the usual modus operandi, but it’s so much more than that. The 64-bit processor, the M7 motion coprocessor and better camera all say that this is a machine to get things done, whether it’s just going through email or hammering on a new game. This is the version that you want to have to show a professional appearance.

Then there are the colors: Space Gray, Gold and Silver (originally Black and White, but whatever). Around these parts, I’ve seen a real explosion of champagne colored cars and trucks, and for a while, I wasn’t sure why. Most of the time the color was so close to silver that it was difficult to discern between the two, or it was on a decidedly utilitarian vehicle. It didn’t make sense to me.

The iPhone 5S has decidedly pro features.

The iPhone 5S has decidedly pro features.

The Gold iPhone option falls into that same category. It’s not a garish gold, it’s a subtle champagne. It’s the kind of color that stands out just enough not to blend in with the masses, and yet isn’t so offensive that it falls into a lime green category. In a word, it’s classy. It’s the color of many professionals. Now I won’t be the guy to buy one, I’d prefer the Silver all day long. But I can understand the attraction to it, and I’m sure we’ll see it in boardrooms across the U.S. and beyond.

And then take a look at the cases. Just like the iPad — a device that many argue is a serious desktop replacement machine — you can purchase a leather case. This is clearly the option made for the young professional, as a person in their 30s doesn’t want to cruise around town with a baby blue iPhone 5C. No, they want the iPhone 5S and a luxurious case that they can show off to their friends. I guarantee that’s the setup that we’ll see around the water coolers.

The leather cases look really nice.

The leather cases look really nice.

To me, this makes the iPhone 5C the “regular” iPhone and the iPhone 5S the iPhone Pro. It’s got substantially better features, sports metal hardware versus a plastic finish, and is priced and designed such that professionals are more likely to purchase it. And frankly, iPhone Pro sounds better to me than 5S, anyways.

The Choice is Yours

At the end of the day, whether or not you want to upgrade is up to you. If you own an iPhone 5 and are locked into a contract, then you’re pretty much stuck as is unless you want to pay $749 and up for your new iPhone 5S (I haven’t received unlocked pricing for the iPhone 5C yet).

But if you are in the market for a new iPhone, you’ve got some pretty good options in front of you. Now you just have to decide if you want to go Pro or not.