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iPhone 5C review

It's a cheaper iPhone, not a cheap iPhone

Our Verdict

While it's still an iPhone, it's not much more than 2012's device shoved in a plastic case - although iOS 8 really helps the cause.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 32 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 8 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 10 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 1136 x 640
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)

View full specification

For

  • Colourful options
  • Smooth OS
  • Decent battery life

Against

  • Still high cost
  • Doesn't feel premium
  • Too similar to iPhone 5
Ratings in depth

iPhone 5C review

iPhone 5C review

iPhone 5C review

iPhone 5C review

iPhone 5C review

The iPhone 5C marked a new era in Apple's mobile onslaught, as the Cupertino-based firm finally broke rank from premium design and price by offering up a device which is slightly more affordable. Slightly being the key word there.

Before you start getting excited about the potential of a "cheap iPhone", be warned that the iPhone 5C is no mid-range Android rival. When it was first released, back in September last year, prices started at £469 ($549, AU$739) for the 16GB SIM-free handset.

The launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has precipitated a price drop and an unexpected storage limitation. If you want a new, SIM-free iPhone 5C now, then you'll pay £319 ($450, AU$529) for the 8GB model. There's no longer an option to get it with 16GB or 32GB.

If you fancy doubling your storage capacity to 32GB - remember the 5C is an Apple device so there's no microSD slot in sight - you can add another £80 ($100, AU$130) to that base price.

So let's bust one myth right from the off then - although one that Apple never promised in the first place. The iPhone 5C is not a cheap, budget device - it's a slightly cheaper offering compared to the premium, metal clad iPhone 5S which launched alongside this polycarbonate-clad phone.

Thanks to price cuts the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, Nokia Lumia 925 and Sony Xperia Z are all around the same price, if not cheaper than the less feature packed iPhone 5C.

One way Apple has managed to keep the cost of the 5C down slightly is ditching the glass and aluminium body seen on every handset since the iPhone 4, and welcoming back the brazen use of polycarbonate last seen on the iPhone 3GS.

Now the plastic versus metal debate is one which has been raging for a few years, with Apple fans blasting the top Samsung products such as the Galaxy S4 for looking and feeling cheap - but is it time for those people to eat their hats?

Pick up the iPhone 5C and there's no mistaking that this handset isn't clad in the premium materials which have adorned the more recent models, but that's not necessarily bad thing.

The polycarbonate exterior comes in a range of colourful options - green, yellow, pink, blue and white - and anyone who has owned an iPod will be well versed in these hues.

iPhone 5C review

This is the first time we've seen the varied palette make it to the iPhone range however, prompting some mocking from Nokia who drew comparisons between the 5C and its fluorescent Lumia range - and to be fair there is a small similarity between it and the Lumia 625 front on.

The bright colours also make the iPhone 5C look a bit childish. My green review handset for example could be mistaken for a toy phone from a distance and it doesn't exactly ooze the Apple quality I'm used to seeing when unboxing an iPhone.

However, look beyond that and the iPhone 5C does feel structurally sound in the hand, no doubt helped by the steel frame hidden under the polycarbonate exterior and I found I was far less concerned about it smashing.

iPhone 5C review

The steel frame also doubles as the 5C's antenna, meaning there's no risk of signal dropping if you fancy holding this iPhone in your left hand.

While the likes of the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5 are clad front and back in glass causing users to be wary at all times about the state of their smartphone, the iPhone 5C feels like it can be chucked into a bag without having to worry about its condition when it comes to pulling it back out.

It's reassuring that the iPhone 5C feels like it is capable of taking a few knocks, because the slick, unibody plastic finish offers very little in the way of grip.

iPhone 5C review

Apple does offer a range of equally colourful rubberised skins which you can slap onto your iPhone 5C to provide some much needed additional grip, but at £20 ($29, AU$39) a pop it's yet more money leaving your wallet - plus the odd hole design of these cases won't be to everyone's taste.

Of course third party accessory manufacturers offer a multitude of cases, skins and other forms of protection for your iPhone 5C, so you can find cheaper alternatives out there.

At 124.4 x 59.2 x 8.97mm the iPhone 5C is slightly chunkier than the handset it's replacing, but considering the iPhone 5 was wafer thin the 5C certainly isn't overbearing in the hand and the added weight from a slightly larger battery means that it actually feels more substantial compared to the iPhone 5S.

The same minimalist attitude to buttons has been implemented on the iPhone 5C, with the famous home key the only navigational aid on the front of the device, while the power/lock resides at the top and the separated volume keys on the left.

Just above the volume keys is the small switch which is now synonymous with Apple's iDevice range, allowing you to quickly toggle silent/volume mode.

All the keys are easy enough to reach when holding the iPhone 5C in one hand, but thanks to the elongated nature of the device since Apple bumped the screen size up from 3.5 inches to 4 you need to stretch your fingers that extra bit to reach the power/lock button.

iPhone 5C review

I'd much prefer this key to be located on the right hand side of the iPhone 5C, as it would make it that bit easier to access and avoids any awkward shuffling of the phone in the hand - but of course that would see Apple copying Samsung in terms of placement, and nobody wants to see any more accusations of copying coming along.

There's nothing else joining the power/lock key on top of the 5C after Apple relocated the headphone jack to the bottom with the iPhone 5 - a move which isn't to everyone's taste.

Joining the left aligned headphone jack on the base of the iPhone 5C is a centralised lightning port and a mono speaker to one side to help you blast your tunes at grannies on the bus or conduct a more civilised speakerphone conversation.

iPhone 5C review

Now the right hand side hasn't been left completely alone on the 5C, with Apple choosing this surface as the location for the SIM card tray - but unlike most smartphones that take microSIMs these days, iPhones now rock the tiny nanoSIM technology.

This means you'll have to talk to your network about getting a nanoSIM for your shiny new iPhone 5C before you'll be able to use it - that is unless you're upgrading from an iPhone 5, but I'd suggest that's pretty much a waste of money.

If you're coming from a similarly priced Android handset you'll probably think the iPhone 5C feels a little on the small size, with its 4-inch display more at home at the budget end of the rival OS's line up.

iPhone 5C review

While the screen size might not be anything special, the 1136 x 640 Retina display is present and correct on the iPhone 5C, meaning it has the same offering as both the iPhone 5 and 5S.

There are even more similarities with the iPhone 5, as you'll find the same A6 processor, 8MP rear camera, 1.9 MP front camera, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 in the 5C.

The iPhone 5C is 4G enabled of course, but more supports even more bands meaning it'll work even more networks around the world.

So what have we got so far then? Well, the iPhone 5C is a slightly overweight iPhone 5 with a plastic body, larger battery and a slightly lower price tag. If anything it looks to be a bit of a hard sell on paper - but with iOS 8.1 on board, there's a litany of places where it might it might excel.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBNo
Contract TypeSIM-free
Built-in Memory32 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotNo
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyGPRS, EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, UMTS, HSPA+
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyiPhone 5c
Cellular Generation4G
Cellular Network SupportedGSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900, WCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1700, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Phone StyleBar
ColourGreen
Operating SystemiOS
Brand NameApple
Battery Talk Time10 Hour
Screen Size10.2 cm (4")
Screen Resolution1136 x 640
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)131.8 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerApple
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Backlight TechnologyLED
Operating System VersioniOS 7
Messaging TypeMMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, iMessage, SMS (Short Message Service)
Pixel Density326 ppi
Front Camera Resolution1.2 Megapixel
Height124.5 mm
Width59.2 mm
Depth8.9 mm
Radio TunerNo
Battery Standby Time250 Hour
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product NameiPhone 5c Smartphone
Processor Speed1.30 GHz
Product LineiPhone 5c
Screen TypeLCD
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Gyro Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Ambient Light Sensor, Digital Compass
Manufacturer Part NumberMF132LL/A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing Information

For the colorful.

Color makes a statement and reveals your personality. And iPhone 5c comes in five unlike-anything-else colors. Add one of the six Apple-designed cases (sold separately), and it quickly goes from colorfully cool to impossible to ignore.

Engineered to the brightest specifications.

A6 chip. 8MP iSight camera. 4-inch Retina display. Ultrafast LTE wireless. iPhone 5c has the things that made iPhone 5 an amazing phone - and more, including iOS 7. As a result, it's as powerful as it is expressive.

Ultrafast LTE wireless.

iPhone 5c supports more LTE bands than ever. Which means you can get ultrafast LTE coverage in more places.

Package Contents
  • iPhone 5c Smartphone
  • EarPods with Remote and Mic
  • Lightning to USB Cable
  • 5W USB Power Adapter
Limited Warranty1 Year