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Apple drops iPhone 5S price to $99, makes iPhone 5C its free option

Apple drops iPhone 5S price to $99, makes iPhone 5C its free option

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As is always the case when Apple launches new iPhones, the lower end of the company's product offerings is getting shuffled around. Rather than update the controversial iPhone 5C, Apple has decided to slot that in as a free offering (with 8GB of storage, down from the 16GB it launched with), while the iPhone 5S now occupies its place at the $99 price point (both with a two-year contract, of course). It's probably the most logical thing Apple could have done with its increasingly complicated iPhone lineup — the iPhone 5C is essentially 2012's iPhone 5, and Apple has traditionally put its two-year-old phones in the free price slot.

Keeping the iPhone 5S around at the $99 price point serves a few smart purposes — it gives customers a premium-quality iPhone with a smaller screen, should the iPhone 6 be too large, and it also helps the proliferation of Touch ID-enabled devices. As for storage, Apple hasn't released details — but it does seem like it'll continue to offer a few different capacity options for the 5S. We'll find out more once Apple's website is back up.

However, this move may indicate the beginning of the end for the iPhone 5C. Rather than update it to keep its hardware at a place to justify the $99 price point, Apple could just be clearing stock at the free price point. Still, it should live through at least one more cycle, but it wouldn't surprise us if Apple did away with it entirely next year.

Lastly, this update marks the death of the iPhone 4S. Like the iPhone 4 before it, Apple kept this handset around for three full years, but the company has finally stopped selling phones with a 3.5-inch screen — and Apple has also done away with the venerable 30-pin connector in its iPhone lineup, as well.