ALTHOUGH APPLE has continued to dominate in the top-end smartphone market, it has been rapidly losing ground to chief competitor Google in the overall phone market.
This is because in recent years, Android's ability to target multiple price points including the sub-£100 market has allowed it to become the most used mobile operating system in the world, becoming a hit with buyers on a budget and emerging markets just beginning to widely adopt smartphones.
For this reason, when rumours first broke that Apple was planning to release an affordable iPhone, interest peaked, with the predicted move showing that the California company wasn't going to take Android's success lying down.
However, come Apple's San Francisco unveiling on Tuesday, many hopes for a truly affordable iPhone were dashed when Apple revealed that the lower end iPhone 5C will still cost a fairly premier £469. Since it's priced just £90 less than the top-end iPhone 5S, it's more than reasonable to wonder what reason there is to buy the lower end iOS smartphone.
The iPhone 5C is debatably one of the most visually striking iOS smartphones ever released. This is because Apple's taken a page out of Nokia's book, releasing it in a multitude of bright colour options including green, blue, yellow, pink and white. This makes the iPhone 5C look a little like a throwback to Apple's pre-Ive iMac G3 design philosophy.
The iMac G3 feel is compounded by the iPhone 5C's use of plastic as opposed to metal, with the cheaper iPhone featuring a single piece wrap-around plastic chassis and coming with a multitude of clip-on plastic cases, which will set you back £25 each.
The iPhone 5C is also a little larger than most iPhones, measuring 124x59x8.97mm and weighing 132g. This makes it thicker and heavier than the 124x59x7.6mm and 112g iPhone 5S and could be a sticking point for Apple fans used to slender, sleek metallic handsets.
Apple has configured the iPhone 5C with the same 4in 1136x640, 326ppi Retina display as the iPhone 5.
While the iPhone 5 is a year old, this display is no bad thing, as even now, in a brave new world where smartphone screens regularly break the 400ppi threshold, Apple's Retina display is still one of the best available. In the past all Apple Retina displays have been wonderfully crisp, bright and vibrant and boasted great viewing angles. In fact to date the only smartphones we've seen offering better displays are the more expensive HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 Android smartphones.
For this reason, even in its £469 price bracket, we're thinking that the iPhone 5C's screen will remain one of the best available.
The iPhone 5C will come running Apple's latest iOS 7 mobile operating system. Apple claims that iOS 7 is its biggest mobile software update to date.
Apple lists the iOS 7 release as offering over 200 new features and changes. Thus far, having had a brief go with developer versions, key changes we noticed include updates to the fonts, a new 'flat' design and a quick settings menu. The quick settings menu works a little like the peek feature on Android and can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. The OS will also boast a new card-based, multi-tasking system, an updated Safari web browser and a revamped photo gallery.
Processor and performance
The iPhone 5C runs using the same Apple dual-core 1.3GHz A6 processor as the iPhone 5C. While it's not as fast on paper as many of the more up to date Qualcomm and Nvidia chips used by most Android phones, in the past we've found that the A6 is still a very nippy processor. This is because Apple works to optimise its software with its hardware, enabling it to get more out of its components. As a result, in our experience, even though the iPhone features on paper lower specifications than top-end Android smartphones, it can still match and often beat their performance. We're guessing that this will remain true with the iPhone 5C.
Apple has designed the iPhone 5C with the same 8MP rear-facing camera as the iPhone 5, but has paired it with an upgraded, 1.9MP Facetime HD front camera. This could be a bit of an issue, as the iPhone 5's camera, while good, didn't match those of other top-end handsets, like the Nokia Lumia 925 or HTC One, which both boast significantly more shot options and better low-light performance.
Battery and storage
Apple lists the iPhone 5C as having a battery life of 10 hours' talk time on 3G. If this is accurate the phone will boast one of the longest battery lives available, with most smartphones still struggling to make it through a entire day on one charge with even moderately heavy use.
The iPhone 5C is available in 16GB and 32GB internal storage models. The 16GB model will cost £469 and the 32GB model £549 SIM-free.
Summing up, the iPhone 5C is basically a plastic slightly updated, moderately cheaper iPhone 5. The only real changes are its iMac-esque plastic design, slightly updated front camera and Apple's latest iOS 7 mobile operating system, which really isn't that much of a benefit for existing iPhone users looking to upgrade as it's set to be available for download on the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 from 18 September.
The fact the iPhone 5C isn't a radical upgrade wouldn't be too much of a problem were it not for its hefty £469 starting price. While it undoubtedly will sell well, by pricing the iPhone 5C so high Apple likely won't see it become the game changer that businesses embedded in Apple's Mac OS and iOS ecosystem are waiting for.
The Apple iPhone 5C is set for release in the UK on 20 September. Check back with The INQUIRER then for a full review, and check out our iPhone 5C price, release date and where to buy roundup. µ