- Excellent screen quality
- Smooth, swish OS
- Snappy camera
- Quite expensive
- Not a huge upgrade over an iPhone 5
Review Price £469.99
iPhone 5C review
What is the iPhone 5C?The iPhone 5C is something new in the iPhone line-up. It’s a lower-cost alternative to the iPhone 5S – normally Apple simply trots out old models for those who can’t afford the new top dog. To save a few pennies, the iPhone 5C uses a shell of plastic rather than metal, but starting at £469 this is no cheap phone. Indeed, it sells for around the same price as the iPhone 5 would have done if Apple had kept it and internally it’s extremely similar to the old iPhone 5. It may be colourful, but does it have anything else to offer?
iPhone 5C video
SEE ALSO: iPhone 5C vs iPhone 5: what's the difference?
iPhone 5C – DesignThe iPhone 5C takes design inspiration from the Nokia Lumia range, which proved once and for all that a plastic phone needn’t feel cheap. It’s a unibody phone, meaning you have no access to the battery, or access to the insides unless you’re willing to fully dismantle the thing.
A little wider and 30g heavier than the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C feels a little heftier than its brother. However, this is no bad thing. At 9mm thick and 132g, you’d only call it fat if you wanted to lower the little thing’s self-esteem.
The iPhone 5C comes in five colours – pink, blue, yellow, green and white. They’re much more fun-looking than the staid iPhone 5S, but they are slightly pastel-looking shades rather than dazzling bright colours. They’re a little more muted than the Nokia Lumia colours.
The phone feels as immaculately well-made as you’d expect from Apple – there are no gaps or inconsistencies in the border between the plastic back and glass front, no flexing of the body. But glossy plastic was never going to feel as impressive as the aluminium rear of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S.
We also found that the plastic nano SIM slot on the phone’s right edge tends to get a little mucky, spoiling the otherwise impressive consistency of the phone’s colouring – the buttons and mute switch are all colour-matched to the rear.
It’s a strong look, although we’re less convinced by the official Apple iPhone 5C case. It’s a felt-lined rubbery case with cut-out dots on the rear. Match the colours well and you’ll get a funky look, but the way the dots reveal part of the iPhone logo looks clumsy and the rubbery finish attracts dust and fluff to the plastic body within minutes. The concept is a fine one, but the execution falls short of the standard set by the phone itself.
SEE ALSO: Best iPhone 5C cases
The placement of the iPhone 5C’s on-body bits are more-or-less identical to those of the iPhone 5. A mute switch sits on the left edge, alongside the volume buttons, while a power button lives up top. It’s a design that simply works, with every button easily accessible without resorting to using two hands. This is one of the main benefits of a smaller phone like this – it’s a much less intimidating presence than any high-end Android phone.
If you’re upgrading from a pre-iPhone 5 Apple phone, though, there are some new-ish things to get used to. The iPhone 5C uses a tiny nano SIM, still only used by a fistful of phones, and the Lightning port introduced by the iPhone 5. The port may be a consideration if you have a swanky high-end speaker dock that won’t fit an iPhone 5C – although Apple does offer a (slightly clumsy-looking) adapter for £25.
The iPhone 5C misses out on what’s probably the biggest hardware innovation of the iPhone 5S – the Touch ID fingerprint scanner. This lets you secure your phone against the fingers of any more mischievous friends without using a passcode. Here you’ll either have to use the passcode or go without that extra layer of protection.
iPhone 5C – ScreenJust like the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S, the iPhone 5C has a 4-inch screen. It’s smaller than every Android phone at the price, but quality-wise it’s excellent.
Side-by-side we couldn’t tell any big differences between this display and the iPhone 5S’s. They use exactly the same type of panel. It’s a top-quality IPS panel that offers superb colour reproduction, excellent contrast and startling peak brightness.
The iPhone 5C uses a 1,136 x 640 pixel screen, just like that of the iPhone 5. The resulting 326ppi pixel density is the same pixel pitch that saw the introduction of the term ‘Retina’ display – meaning so sharp you can’t see the pixels.
Other phones have since far outstripped this pixel density. The HTC One has a 469ppi screen. However, if anyone tells you it’s a reason to buy that phone over the iPhone 5C, they’re wrong. At normal viewing distances there’s little benefit in higher pixel density IPS screens than this. You can only tell much of a difference if you get your eyeballs right up close to the screen – not a good look on the train, and no good for your eyes.
Of course, screen size is an absolutely valid consideration. What the iPhone 5C gains in practicality – it’s so easy to grasp and use one-handed – it loses in other areas. A large screen like the HTC One’s or Samsung Galaxy S4’s offers a better canvas for websites (especially non-mobile ones) and is far, far better as a display for watching videos.
The same is true for games but, as we’ll cover later, this is made-up-for by the iPhone’s unbeatable game library.
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