Long-Term Cost of Ownership: iPhone 5c vs iPhone 5S

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by john123, Oct 10, 2013.

  1. john123 macrumors 68020


    Jul 20, 2001
    I'm curious as to thoughts people have regarding the long-term (i.e., lifetime) costs of ownership for the iPhone 5S versus 5C, especially in light of the current sale prices. By lifetime, I mean taking into account the net upfront cost and then subtracting the resale value—say, a few weeks after models would launch in the fall of 2015.

    Specifically, imagine a 8-10% tax rate, which would put the cost of an iPhone 5C at WalMart around $49, and put the cost of an iPhone 5S at WalMart around $206, for a net upfront difference around $157.

    Using Gazelle's prices as a benchmark, a 16GB iPhone 4S fetches $165, while a 16GB iPhone 4 fetches $100. (Prior to launch, I recall the iPhone 4S value was $200; I'm not sure what the corresponding iPhone 4 price was.) However, private sale values obviously would be higher for either model.

    Those numbers all suggest to me that the iPhone 5C has the lower long-term cost of ownership (extrapolating, saving $157 upfront but only giving up $65 plus some incremental amount on resale).

    However, given that it is a new design that apparently has lower demand, I'm not sure if the comparisons to the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 go out the window. I'd be curious to hear what others think on the matter.
  2. Lance-AR macrumors 6502

    May 7, 2012
    Little Rock, AR
    Off the top of my head, I think the overall issue is depreciation which should be less on less expensive products. The key will be demand for the individual products and I'm not sure we can estimate that.
  3. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    U know u gonna drop the darn thing on concrete and say good bye to ur resell value. Don't go nuts on this men.
  4. c0LdFire macrumors regular

    Jul 10, 2013
    I could probably go out and earn $100 in the time it'd take to build a beautifully crafted spreadsheet to figure out which phone will net you an extra $100 or so at the end of the contract.

    Seriously, who gives a ****. Just buy whichever one you want (read: the 5S).
  5. aneftp macrumors 601

    Jul 28, 2007
    In terms of resell value. U will be lucky to get $250-275 for iPhone 5c 16gb model in 12 months vs $350-400 for 16gb iPhone 5s.

    So u aren't saving much at all going with 5c. In fact u will also have to live with less performance and worst camera than the 5s for the entire time also.
  6. DefDad macrumors member

    Jun 22, 2010
    Cost of ownership for a better phone (5s) should be higher than cost of ownership of a lesser phone (any other phone).
  7. CEmajr macrumors 601

    Dec 18, 2012
    Charlotte, NC
    5C: $550 now. Resale value likely around $200-250 at iPhone 6 release.
    Net cost $300-350

    5S: $650 now. Resale value likely around $350-400 at iPhone 6 release.
    Net Cost: $250-300

    5S is your better long-term investment and the better phone period.
  8. john123 thread starter macrumors 68020


    Jul 20, 2001
    I do...Plus, per my post, this is for family members who don't have a strong preference one way or the other. Thus, the finances govern the decision. To them, it's just a phone that they can use to get on the web from time to time.


    But the question I phrased was about the 2-year upgrade cycle. Do you think the numbers around the time of the iPhone 6S release will be different than were for those I included in my post? If so, why or why not?

    Also, your numbers ignored the costs I cited in my post—namely, that the 5C can be had for around $155 cheaper than the iPhone 5S by shopping at the cheapest retailer, i.e., WalMart.


    Never have. Plus, that's what AppleCare+ is for, I guess.
  9. PNutts macrumors 601


    Jul 24, 2008
    Pacific Northwest, US
    Everyone here is going to pull numbers out of the air so I suggest you do the same. There are too many variables specific to you that affect TCO (they can be generalized out but there goes the accuracy) and many are from a crystal ball.
  10. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    If you're looking at your phone as some kind of monetary investment, then you've already lost. It should be looked at as a device that is useful to you in day to day activities, and how it will benefit you that way. Not how much money it's going to get you when you put it on sale on the used market.

    Concerning yourself with a TCO calculations will just deprive you of any enjoyment in using the device. Might as well not even buy it and invest the money in some stocks.
  11. john123 thread starter macrumors 68020


    Jul 20, 2001
    I agree on the first sentence (about what people are going to do—so far, people's responses have matched your description) although not the second. Extrapolating using historical trends isn't crazy. Unfortunately the only data points I have are the ones from Gazelle, which is why I was hoping folks might chime in with useful bits of information rather than inane babble.


    1) Again, it's not my device. It's for family members.

    2) It's fine if that's your viewpoint, but that doesn't mean everyone needs to look at it the same way. If a person is going to go with one of the more expensive carriers anyway (AT&T/Verizon), and therefore the subsidy you're "paying" for on monthly basis is basically a fixed cost, then yeah, you actually can "make" a little money on your phone upgrades if you do them on a regular and timely basis, or certainly lose very little. Case in point, the aforementioned 16GB iPhone 4S cost $199+tax+upgrade fee two years ago. Gazelle offered $200 for it, and the private party resale value was obviously considerably higher.
  12. sk24iam macrumors regular

    Oct 25, 2009
    I think the 5s will be a better for investment long-term. It has more features and newer technology than the 5c. You will be able to sell it for more tan the 5c after a few years. The 5c isn't much more than an iPhone 5.

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