updated 12:42 pm EDT, Tue September 17, 2013
Carriers offering iPhones for 'free' on some plans
Chinese carriers are heavily subsidizing the iPhone 5s and 5c to make them affordable in the country, rate cards show. Off-contract, even a 16GB 5c is 4,488 yuan, or over $730. China Unicom however has eight plans under which a 5c is available for free. At China Telecom, even the 5s is available for "free" under three plans, although these involve extremely long contracts and/or high fees.
Similar options are available in the UK and Japan, but are far more essential in China, where iPhone prices are inflated and a 5c can cost as much as someone's monthly salary. Many analysts and investors were disappointed when the 5c proved to be little more than a plastic iPhone 5, as they had been hoping Apple could make deeper inroads into countries like China and India with a phone costing less than $400 off-contract. In the US, an unlocked 16GB 5c is $549.