Apple's iPhone 5c goes on pre-order, with Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile each touting advantages

Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5c went on sale for pre-order this morning. The iPhone 5s will be available starting Sept. 20. The iPhone launch marks the first time that all four Tier 1 U.S. carriers will launch new iPhone models at the same time. The carriers were quick to highlight the advantages of their respective networks and services offerings as they all try to get new customers.

The iPhone 5c is now available for pre-order.

Delivery dates for the iPhone 5c this morning indicate that Apple has not sold out of its pre-order stock, as has happened in the past for new iPhone models.

The fact that all four Tier 1 carriers are launching the new iPhones at the same time and that some of them have introduced handset financing plans in recent months makes the pricing a bit more complicated than in past years. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Sprint (NYSE:S) will sell the iPhone 5s for $199 for the 16 GB model, $299 for the 32 GB model and $399 for the 64 GB model, all with a two-year contract. Those three carriers will sell the cheaper iPhone 5c for $99 for the 16 GB model and $199 for the 32 GB model, on a two-year contract.

Under AT&T's Next handset upgrade plan, in which customers buy a smartphone or tablet with no down payment and agree to pay monthly installments for the device over the course of 20 months, the pricing is different. According to AT&T, under Next, the 16 GB iPhone 5s will cost $27 per month, the 32 GB model will cost $32 per month and the 64 GB iPhone 5s will carry a $37 monthly device fee. The iPhone 5c 16 GB model will cost $22 per month and the 32 GB iPhone 5c will carry a $27 monthly device fee.

Verizon too is promoting its handset upgrade plan, Edge, on its iPhone 5s and 5c pre-order page. The carrier splits up the full retail price of the phone into 24 monthly payments (making the 16 GB 5c $23.06 per month and the 32 GB 5c $27.15 per month). Verizon then allows customers to upgrade to new phones after six months, with at least 50 percent of the phone's price paid off.

Meanwhile, T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), which is touting its Simple Choice no-contract plans, laid out its own pricing. T-Mobile said it will offer iPhone 5s starting at an introductory price of a $99 down payment with 24 equal monthly payments of $22.91 for the 16 GB model, and the iPhone 5c will start at an introductory price of $0 down with 24 equal monthly payments of $22 for the 16 GB model. Those introductory prices are likely to increase over time, but the 5c price does represent a slight decrease in the regular unsubsidized price, as AllThingsD notes.

T-Mobile just started selling the iPhone in April and is eager to get on equal footing with its larger rivals. "It is so much fun to be on this side of the ledger," longtime T-Mobile market executive Andrew Sherrard told AllThingsD. "It is fantastic."

T-Mobile also announced that its LTE network now covers 180 million POPs in 154 metro areas, up from up the 157 million POPs in 116 metro areas it announced in July. T-Mobile's HSPA+ network covers 228 million POPs.

Verizon Wireless remains the carrier with the largest LTE footprint--more than 301 million POPs--and is likely to continue touting that in its marketing going forward. AT&T is also touting its own LTE network, which it aims to have covering 270 million POPs by year-end, and is again trotting out its marketing lien that its LTE network is the fastest and "most reliable," a claim Verizon has taken issue with. 

As it has in the past, AT&T will also likely tout that its iPhone customers can talk and surf the Web at the same time on a cellular network, and that the phones fall back to the faster HSPA+ service outside of AT&T's LTE coverage, compared to CDMA EV-DO coverage on Verizon and Sprint. The iPhone 5s and 5c that Verizon and Sprint are selling do not allow customers to talk and surf at the same time, at least when they're on a cellular network. If they have a Wi-Fi network available, they can talk and use data at the same time.

Sprint, meanwhile, is highlighting its unlimited smartphone data plans in its iPhone sales pitch, including its recently introduced guarantee to offer Sprint customers unlimited smartphone data service for the life of their contract.

For more:
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this second AllThingsD article
- see this CNET article
- see this second CNET article
- see this third CNET article
- see this Engadget article
- see this PhoneScoop article

Special Report: Apple iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C: Complete coverage

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