Rumored budget iPhone, the iPhone 5C, recently jumped from being just a rumor to almost-confirmed to be launched this September. Although dubbed the “budget iPhone”, analysts have long since predicted that it wouldn’t be so cheap after all.

Going by Apple’s standards, it seems quite likely that the iPhone 5C would be priced as a mid-tier smartphone, pitching for a $400 price-tag (unlocked, contract-free). But it has taken quite a ride to arrive at this number.

The $99 Price-Tag

No one really knows or has information on iPhone 5C’s price. The most solid info we have on charts is that of financial analysts whose predictions are often off the mark but occasionally right on spot. In this regard, we have had major publications like WSJ and TNW report on what could possibly be iPhone 5C’s market price.

iPhone 5C Price

Some speculations hint at a $99 on-contract price-tag which seems very realistic should indeed Apple decide to launch a contract iPhone 5C in the US. That in itself is still in debate especially due to the cannibalization of other iPhones in the line.

$330 -$400 – $500

The iPhone 5C wouldn’t be as cheap as one would expect it to be. Analysts like Ming Chi Kuo have hinted that the price-range that Apple is looking at could be well above the $300 fold. In fact, the latest tech chatter puts the price of iPhone 5C to be around $400-$500.

Given the production costs and Apple’s claims of quality, it wouldn’t be surprising to note that the iPhone 5C would cost you much more than what a mid-tier smartphone would ($200).

When Apple launched the iPad Mini in a tablet market that had a lot of $199 tablets, the price tag read $329, way above the rumored/speculated $249-$299. This time around, analysts aren’t taking any chances by predicting a low-end figure for iPhone 5C.

The likeliness of a $400 iPhone 5C seems consistent with the news about the features that the smartphone would have.

Developing Countries, No-Contract Models

Apple’s plans for the iPhone 5C are not clear yet. Would the iPhone 5C have a contract version? Or would it simply be a non-contract, unlocked iPhone? Would developing countries – where the smartphone is targeted – have a contract version that would reduce the iPhone 5C cost significantly?

These are questions that remain unanswered.

Apple’s plans are to capture the Chinese market and to make pathways into the Android-dominated Indian market. It’s clear that Apple’s budget iPhone would be the key to do both. However, much of this would depend on how the iPhone 5C is priced. These emerging markets are already inundated with countless Android smartphones in the $200-$400 range that are quite successful already.

iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S and iPhone 5: Which one to Buy?

If the iPhone 5C goes for $99 on-contract, and most likely the iPhone 5 would be pushed to the same price-range, what would you prefer?

Also, read up on iPhone 5S’s price speculation and how iPhone 5C can affect the market perception of iPhone 5S and 5.