Here’s How You Can Get An iPhone 5c For Free! Plus: Why You Shouldn’t Get An iPhone 5c For Free!

iPhone 5c pretty in pink.

If you’re in the market for an entry-level smartphone, it’s hard to go wrong with Apple’s iPhone 5c, and now you can get one for as low as zero American dollars. Free, as in Beer. So why wouldn’t you want to pick one up? Just a few reasons…

The Deal

Right now, you can walk into any RadioShack and take advantage of a terrific deal on the iPhone 5c. The Shack has Apple’s “unapologetically plastic” entry level iPhone for $29 on contract. If you bring in a phone that’s eligible for trade-in, that price drops to $0. Zero dollars for what is essentially a repackaged iPhone 5 seems pretty sweet, no? Well, you may want to consider a couple of things before you pack up your old model and upgrade to a slightly-less-old model.

The Joys of an Older iPhone

Like we said, the iPhone 5c is really just a repackaged iPhone 5. Apple didn’t want to skimp on the quality of its devices, but it also wanted to placate investors that want it to post higher earnings margins. Thus, the iPhone 5c: same Apple quality on the insides, but in a chassis that is less expensive to produce.

The 5c was introduced alongside the 5s just a few months ago, but for all the talk of it being a “new iPhone,” the 5c is really just about to turn two. It’s got all the internals of an iPhone 5, just with a slightly tweaked camera.

Why is that an issue? Well, Apple’s iPhones age better than any other devices on the market in terms of being able to handle operating system updates, but that’s not saying much. Whereas Samsung will leave you in the lurch for a Galaxy phone you bought just a year and a half ago, Apple continues support for its devices for as long as they can kind of, sort of handle them. Sometimes that’s not the best of things.

Owners of the iPhone 3G learned this the hard way when one iOS upgrade turned their beloved devices into lethargic pocket weights. Making the jump to iOS 4 made the iPhone 3G sluggish and prone to overheating, and it destroyed the device’s battery life.

By the time iOS 4 was released, the iPhone 3G was – you guessed it! – two years old.

Not all iOS upgrades are quite that bad for all older iPhone models, but potential iPhone 5c owners will definitely want to consider the possibility before picking up Apple’s older model. With iOS 8 just around the corner, that next OS upgrade could turn out to be a performance downgrade.

The Joys of an older iPhone, Redux

The other pitfall for upgrading an older iPhone is the potential that you’ll miss out on new features. Owners of the iPhone 4S know this feeling well, as their models, while still beautiful, weren’t able to take advantage of iOS 7 features like AirDrop sharing and Burst Mode for the iPhone’s camera. With iOS 8, Apple hasn’t yet laid out which features the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c won’t be able to handle, but we can just about guarantee that there will be some that are missing.

iOS 8 features on display.

“Okay,” you say, “what if I just don’t upgrade? Ever think of that?”

Well, that’s actually the course of action owners of older iPhones wish they had taken once they upgrade, so you’re a bit ahead of the curve there, dear reader. But why hold back on upgrading to all the snazzy new features when…

New iPhones Are Just Around the Corner

Don’t deny it: new tech just gets you all antsy in your pantsy. The fall of each year brings a new iPhone, and you know you’ll be kicking yourself when Tim Cook takes the stage in September – because, yes, it will be in September that Apple announces new iPhones – and shows off an iPhone 6 with a bigger screen.

Even if you don’t need the newest and greatest, you may want to hold off. If Apple continues offering 5c-style iPhones, that means that the iPhone 5s will show up this fall in a plastic casing. That means you could pick up a newer device for a comparable price and probably have access to all of the cool stuff that you’d be missing out on if you grab a 5c now. Plus, the newer hardware in the iPhone 5s/6c/however-Apple-winds-up-naming-it will be much more capable of running iOS 8 than the by-then two-year-old iPhone 5c.

Lead image via Wired.