Let’s see how the two compare.
iPhone 5C vs iPhone 5 - Video
iPhone 5C vs iPhone 5 – Design
iPhone 5C – Plastic polycarbonate rear, five colours, 9mm thick
iPhone 5 – Aluminium body, two colours, 7.6mm thick
The biggest change in the iPhone 5C is in its hardware design. It’s the first plastic-bodied iPhone since the iPhone 3G and 3GS, using a polycarbonate shell that’s quite similar to the higher-end Nokia Lumia phones, such as the old Lumia 900.
The main reason behind this is that it’ll be cheaper to produce than the iPhone 5, which is machined out of a single piece of aluminium for that unibody feel. And lower cost means Apple can make some more cash.
However, there’s a lot to like about the iPhone 5C’s new style. It’s colourful, and makes the iPhone 5S look like an old fuddy duddy phone. And like the top Nokia Lumias it feels great in the hands.
The spec numbers do make the iPhone 5 sound like the sleeker phone, though. The iPhone 5 is 7.6mm thick, the iPhone 5C 9mm. It’s also heavier than the iPhone 5 at 132g to the old model’s 112g.
Do we think these differences in size are a big issue? Absolutely not. They fit in perfectly with the iPhone 5C’s cuddlier, more fun image, and a bit of extra girth often helps make a phone feel better in the hand.
Neither phone gives you easy access to the battery as they’re both sealed units, and both use a teeny-tiny nano SIM.
iPhone 5C vs iPhone 5 – Screen
iPhone 5C – 4-inch, 1,136 x 640 pixel IPS
iPhone 5 – 4-inch, 1,136 x 640 pixel IPS
There are no big differences in the specs of the screens of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C. Both have 4-inch screen using IPS panels and 1,136 x 640 pixel resolutions.
Although an old iPhone 5 may use a slightly difference screen panel from the iPhone 5C, Apple quotes their contrast ratio figures as the same: 800:1. Testing shows that Apple’s latest phones tend to outstrip this figure anyway.
They are great screens.
iPhone 5C vs iPhone 5 – Software
iPhone 5C – iOS 7
iPhone 5 – iOS 7
Although the iPhone 5 is a year older than the iPhone 5C, the phones use exactly the same software – iOS 7. This will be launched alongside the iPhone 5C, but iPhone 5 owners will be able to get the upgrade very quickly.
iOS 7 gives the iPhone platform a complete visual revamp and adds a bunch of features. There are more features in the camera app, you’re given quicker and easier control over which features are turned on, Siri is smarter and can search through social networks, and it also introduces AirDrop, Apple’s own alternative to NFC.
iPhone 5C vs iPhone 5 – Storage
iPhone 5C – 16/32GB
iPhone 5 – 16/32/64GB
As the lower-cost option in the new iPhone line-up, it’s no surprise that Apple has not made a top-end 64GB version of the iPhone 5C. You can choose between 16GB and 32GB editions, and as ever there’s no way to expand the memory with a microSD card, as you get with the rival Samsung Galaxy S4.
Although the iPhone 5 is no longer directly available from Apple, it’ll be pretty easily to find all storage varieties of the previous iPhone 5 for a while yet. There are 16GB, 32GB and 64GB editions. Having been discontinued, you may be able to find a good deal for the iPhone 5 over the coming months, but we’ve not seen any notable ones yet.
iPhone 5C vs iPhone 5 – Camera
iPhone 5C – 8-megapixel camera with single-LED flash
iPhone 5 – 8-megapixel camera with single-LED flash
Once again, specs are almost identical in the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C cameras. They both have 8-megapixel main sensors with single-LED flashes, and f/2.4 lenses.
These lag a way behind the best mobile phone cameras in the market – being flattened by the Sony Xperia Z1 and the Nokia Lumia 1020, and soundly bested by the iPhone 5S. That phone has an 8-megapixel camera but uses a slightly larger sensor, a better flash and a faster f/2.2 lens.
Is it a disastrous setup? Absolutely not. The iPhone 5 and 5C cameras are quick, easy to use and capable of grabbing some excellent photos in decent lighting. They’re just not so hot when the conditions aren’t optimal.
iPhone 5C vs iPhone 5 – CPU and RAM
iPhone 5C – Apple A6, dual-core 1.3GHz, 1GB RAM
iPhone 5 – Apple A6, dual-core 1.3GHz, 1GB RAM
The iPhone 5C and iPhone use use exactly the same core components. That's a 1.3GHz dual-core Apple A6 CPU and 1GB of RAM, along with a tri-core PowerVR GPU.
It doesn't make the iPhone 5C particularly exciting tech-wise, but should mean that the iPhone 5 is supported for even longer than it otherwise would be.
iPhone 5C vs iPhone 5 – Connectivity
iPhone 5C - AirPlay, AirDrop, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, 4G, HSPA
iPhone 5 – AirPlay, AirDrop, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.0, 4G, HSPA
After thinking (and hoping) that Apple would start to include NFC in its mobile devices, we were disappointed to see that it has not been included in either the iPhone 5C or iPhone 5S. NFC is a short-distance mobile payments and data transfer standard that’s now included in loads of Windows and Android phones.
Its non-appearance in the new iPhones is a serious step back for the adoption of NFC as a high street standard.
Instead, the iPhone 5C features AirDrop, which is an alternative to the NFC file transfer. It uses Wi-Fi Direct to let you transfer files between Apple devices, including MacBooks. Non-mobile Apple devices got AirDrop with Mac OS X – and iOS 7 adds it to the mobile squad.
The iPhone 5C and iPhone 5 are very similar phones, tech-wise. There’s almost no core spec differences between the two, suggesting Apple will be using the production lines already setup for the iPhone 5 components. We also like the new plastic ‘n’ polycarbonate design. However, at £469 it does seem quite expensive. Make that very expensive.