A $350 unsubsidized price for the iPhone 5C would, in other words, cost Apple $100 per unit in missed revenue. Customers would still get a "free" iPhone, but carriers would be paying Apple less than they do now for the two-year-old iPhone 4.
That's a path Apple's unlikely to take.
"[$450] would not help Apple compete much more effectively in unsubsidized/prepaid markets," Singh said. "[But] I think Apple may be incredibly wary of leaving 'money on the table' and is likely to opt for a pricing strategy that is defensive rather than one that eliminates the 'price umbrella' for competitors."
Apple is expected to unveil its new iPhones, including the iPhone 5C as well as a full-priced model to replace the iPhone 5, on Sept. 10, and start selling the new smartphones in a first wave of markets on Sept. 20.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
Read more about smartphones in Computerworld's Smartphones Topic Center.