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iPhone 5C hands-on review

Colourful iPhone impresses with its rugged casing, but it's still too expensive
Fri Sep 20 2013, 17:05

GADGET DESIGNER Apple's iPhone 5C is a departure from any other smartphone the firm has released up until now.

Although the iPhone 5C is widely considered an "affordable" iPhone, Apple has not actually claimed it as such, and the handset's £469 price along with its specifications also seem to suggest otherwise. Instead, the firm is marketing this as a "colourful" iPhone, hence the "C" in its name, with the handset available in white, yellow, pink, blue and green.

The main talking point of the iPhone 5C is, of course, its design. We got our hands on the green model, and were immediately impressed by the feel of the device, which again argues against the chatter that this is supposed to be a 'budget' device.

The rear of the iPhone 5C is constructed from a single piece of polycarbonate plastic, which curves around to protect the edges of the device. We think that it will do a pretty good job of protecting the phone too, as despite being made of plastic, it feels sturdy and rugged enough.

iPhone 5C green

This is echoed in the iPhone 5C's size and weight. The phone is a little heavier than its predecessor at 132g, and slightly chunkier at 8.97mm thick. While some might argue that this is a bad thing, the increase in weight gives the iPhone 5C a sturdy feel, while the slight increase in size means that it sits nice and comfortably in the palm of the hand.

Our only real gripe with the plastic casing is that it offers little grip. It's less angular than the iPhone 5 it succeeds, and coupled with the glossy material, this can make it tricky to get a firm grip. We'd perhaps have preferred if Apple had opted to use a rubberised polycarbonate material, such as that found on the Nokia Lumia 1020 handset.

If you needed proof that the iPhone 5S is not a 'cheap' device, look no further than its 4in 1136x640 Retina display. This is the same screen as is found on the more expensive iPhone 5S, and it's unlikely to disappoint.

iPhone 5C green iOS 7 Control Center

Apple's Retina display is known for being one of the sharpest and most vibrant on the mobile market today, and despite being introduced with last year's iPhone 5, it still stacks up well against the displays on the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One.

We'll admit it though; we'd have liked it if Apple had designed its latest smartphone lineup with a slightly larger screen, as the phone feels small compared to its closest rival devices.

Software and performance
The iPhone 5C runs the iOS 7 mobile operating system that Apple rolled out to older iDevices earlier this week. By default, Apple has set the background colour to match the casing of the iPhone 5C, but we promptly changed this for a different wallpaper, as we found that the greenness slightly overbearing.

Beyond that, we have few complaints. As we pointed out in our full iOS 7 review, the overhaul breathes life into Apple's otherwise ageing mobile operating system and makes it exciting again. Albeit lagging behind Android, it also introduces features such as the Control Centre, which make the iPhone feel a lot more functional.

As for performance, the iPhone 5C packs Apple's A6 processor, and we've noticed no lag or speed issues just yet.

Unfortunately, the iPhone 5C doesn't boast the same camera as Apple's new flagship iPhone 5S handset, sticking instead with the 8MP snapper found on the last generation iPhone 5. We like the iPhone 5's camera, although this is one area where we think Apple struggles to match its rivals such as the Nokia Lumia 1020 or the Sony Xperia Z1 smartphone, with images often appearing over-saturated.

iPhone 5C has an 8MP rear-facing camera

Image taken on the iPhone 5C

While image quality isn't on a par with some other smartphone camera offerings, the inclusion of iOS 7 has sharpened the interface. It also means that users are able to snap photos while recording video, and that Instagram style features can be added to pictures from the Camera app.

First impressions
Given that it's only £90 cheaper than the iPhone 5S, we remain a little perplexed by the iPhone 5C, since, in our opinion, we'd prefer to save up the additional £100 and pick up Apple's latest flagship smartphone.

However, having used the iPhone 5C for a little while, we certainly can see why it appeals. The colourful back is a departure from the iPhone 5, and it felt exciting to use a redesigned iPhone, whereas the iPhone 5S looks just like its predecessor. The design also doesn't look 'cheap' like some have alleged, and we've enjoyed our time with the handset so far.

That said, we're still not fully convinced that it's worth that £469 price. Check back with The INQUIRER next week for our full in-depth iPhone 5C review. µ


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