Walmart slashes iPhone 5 prices to the bone

Michael Santo's picture

If you need a bigger signal that a new version of the iPhone is coming, and coming soon, here is one: Walmart has discounted the price of the iPhone 5, Apple's current flagship phone, to $98.

This is, of course, for the 16GB model. The Walmart iPhone price had previously been slotted in at $129, still a bargain compared to the the usual $199 price tag of the iPhone 5 (on contract). Naturally, this Walmart iPhone price cut assumes the consumer signs up for a new two-year contract with AT&T, Verizon or Sprint (note: no T-Mobile).

At the same time, Walmart has cut its prices on 10-inch iPads. The iPad 4 with a Retina Display now costs $449 and the iPad 2 is $349. The $330 iPad mini did not see a discount.

It's clear why Walmart is making the iPhone move: It is attempting to clear out its inventory of iPhone 5 devices as Apple nears the launch of its next-generation iPhones -- with an S -- more on this later.

While not officially announcing the new device, Apple has announced a press event for Tuesday, Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. PDT. The reason for the press event is clear, despite Apple's typical reticence on the matter. The company is unveiling its next generation iPhone device, which is expected to be, in this "off year," the iPhone 5S.

Apple has historically released a device and then an S branded model the next year, which is minimally changed externally, but contains internal improvements such as a faster processor, perhaps more RAM, a better camera, and the like. This year, the iPhone 5S is expected to sport a better camera, an A7 processor, and a fingerprint reader embedded in the Home button for security.

However, Apple is also expected to release a colorful iPhone 5C (C = color) model. That lower-priced iPhone will take the place of the iPhone 5. In the past, Apple has retained the prior year's model and sold it at a discount. With the new iPhone 5C expected to carry much if not all of the internals of the iPhone 5, that practice, analysts say, will go away.

The iPhone 5C is designed to meet the challenge of low-priced Android handsets, which are popular in emerging markets. It is not expected to be cheap, though, rather priced as a mid-range device, at around $300 or so sans carrier subsidy. It will probably be priced at $99 with a carrier subsidy.

As far as the iPad price cuts, it's expected that Apple will release a new iPad before the end of the year. However, the relatively minor slashing means it's not going to do so for a while. We're expecting to see that unveiling in October.

Stay tuned for more news on Apple's iPhone 5S update.