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Apple’s new iPhone 5C may be priced just right

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new iPhone products during the announcement.
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Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new iPhone products during the announcement.

Investors were less than thrilled with Apple's big iPhone event Tuesday, primarily because of the price on the new iPhone 5C.

(Read more: Apple goes plastic and colorful with new iPhone line )

The unlocked iPhone 5C's high price (combined with no mention of a deal in China), caused Apple shares to dip after the event.

While the iPhone 5C starts at a subsidized price of $99, it costs over $500 without a contract. Many analysts had predicted that the phone, which has a plastic case and comes in multiple colors, would be about $350 unlocked.

(Read more: Apple live blog: Here comes the iPhone 5S )

But Apple is betting on the premium market, a move that could help it, said Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray.

Munster, who has a $655 price target for Apple shares with an overweight rating, said that although the heftier price may result in fewer units sold, it will help preserve margins. A deal with China Mobile—that country's largest wireless carrier, with 750 million subscribers—will help Apple's bet pay off, Munster said.

"Ultimately, China Mobile is a huge opportunity, and that's going to be a positive," Munster said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "It's a bold move. They are basically saying that they don't need price at this point to drive demand, and obviously getting a big carrier like China Mobile is going to be a huge factor in that."

Apple is hosting an event Wednesday in Beijing, and Munster said he is 99 percent certain that is when the tech giant will announce its partnership with the Chinese company. Many investors clearly had hoped to hear news of a deal Tuesday.

The company did, however, acknowledge its growth in Asia with other news, including a deal with NTT Docomo, Japan's largest wireless carrier. It also said it plans to roll out the new smartphones in China on day one. Customers there had to wait for months in past launches.

"I look at this all today with Apple as a tale of two markets," said John Malloy, general partner at BlueRun Ventures and a former Nokia executive. "The U.S. fanboys ... and investors are probably going to be disappointed, but it's really all about China. And Apple needs to do that, they need to be able to move into the fatter part of the market."

Some investors also were concerned that the 5C might cannibalize the sales of the iPhone 5S, which ranges from $199 to $399, also introduced Tuesday.

But Ross Gerber, CEO of Gerber Kawasaki, which owns $6 million worth of Apple, said that is unlikely for several reasons.

The 5C comes only in bright colors (including green, pink, yellow, blue and green) and will attract younger users, while the 5S is available in gold, silver and gray and probably will appeal more to older users, he said.

The difference in the prices isn't significant enough to drive stolen sales, Gerber added.

"They changed the style enough to not cannibalize their business, and what they did that I think is most important is they didn't sacrifice margins," he said. "So even though it's cheaper, it's not that much cheaper."

By CNBC's Cadie Thompson. Follow her on Twitter @CadieThompson.

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