iPhone5C

A new set of photos hit the web this morning, showing a number of boxes with the label ‘iPhone 5C’ on the side. Our first instinct is, of course, that these boxes belong to one of the many iPhone clones circulating about Asia. But on the off chance that there’s more to it than that, we’ve posted them.

The images come courtesy of Nowhereelse.fr, who has posted accurate photos of leaked parts in the past, and their theory on them is actually quite interesting. The site suggests that it’s possible that these plastic boxes are the packaging for Apple’s rumored budget iPhone, expected to debut this fall…

iPhone-5C

So what would the ‘C’ stand for? How about Color? After all, the plastic shells we’ve been seeing over the past several weeks, that allegedly belong to Apple’s budget iPhone, have come in a variety of colors. And that actually brings up a good question, what would Apple call its lower-end handset?

The ‘iPhone lite’ has been tossed around a bit, as has the ‘iPhone mini.’ But if you ask me, those names carry a fairly negative connotation. So how do you pitch a less expensive handset alongside your flagship phone without making it sound like a lesser-buy? How about referring to it as the Color edition?

Budget iPhone (NowhereElse 001, blue)

If we pretend that’s their plan for a moment, things get kind of interesting. Imagine Apple selling its flagship handset—the 5S or whatever it is—in black only, or black and white only, with more features. And then it sells its less expensive phone in various colors, with less features. iPod touch-iPod nano.

Once you stop pretending, though, it’s real easy to be skeptical. This thing has Chinese clone written all over it. Apple’s never made a plastic iPhone box before, and it’s never added the letter ‘C’ to a handset model before. Then again, it’s never made a new handset and charged less than $500 before either.

But it certainly looks like it’s going to this year. We’ve been hearing consistent reports for 6 months that Apple is working on a plastic phone with a price tag around $300. It’s believed to be going into production this month ahead of a fall debut alongside the iPhone 5S and several other product refreshes.