iPhone 5c Review: Shiny, Bright And Tight

We have a new member of the iPhone family! For all these years, we have been enjoying new iterative S-branded upgrades. Now we have the new iPhone 5c: the new iPhone for the rest of us.

What Is It?

The iPhone 5c is a shiny new addition to the iPhone line-up, packing in a dual-core 1.3GHz A7 processor, a new tri-core graphics engine, 1GB of RAM, a 4-inch Retina display which claps your eyeballs with its 1136×640 resolution (326 ppi) and a 1510mAh battery.

The 5c’s big claim to fame is that it’s Apple’s first “coloured” iPhone. It comes in five different coloured plastic shades, with each looking as good as the last.

What's Good?

Essentially, it's the iPhone 5 in a fancy body with even fancier software. The iPhone you broke up with when you saw the 5 announced went on a diet, got a makeover and it got hot.

The new plastic construction feels premium rather than cheap thanks to the interesting polycarbonate blend it's made out of, and no matter how many times you look at it, it will always catch your eye and make you smile.

We put both the iPhone 5 and the new iPhone 5c through their benchmarking tests on Geekbench 3, and unsurprisingly, we got pretty much the same results out of our multi-core tests of around 1250. Compare that to the new iPhone 5s, you find that the 5c half the iPhone it could be, but that doesn't make it feel sluggish by any stretch. iOS 7 skips about like a dream on the iPhone 5c.

Despite being pretty plastic, it's still sturdy thanks to the steel frame underneath that doubles as an antenna

Apple is promising that the battery will last 2 hours longer than the iPhone 5, and so far, we believe them. We got around 9 hours of use out of the 1510mAh battery compared to the 8 hours we manage to only just squeeze out of the iPhone 5 and its 1440mAh.

It's weird how the weaponised hardware in the 5s draws power compared to the 5c. Both have quoted similar battery lives from Apple, but the 5c seems to be the only one that delivers strongly on that pledge.

The camera is just as good as it ever was, packing the same 8-megapixel shooter on the back as it is on the iPhone 5. That means it still can't really do low-light very well, but in bright conditions the camera excels.

Nevertheless, here are some camera tests.

Click to enlarge

iPhone 5s

iPhone 5c

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Nokia Lumia 1020

Download the uncropped versions from Dropbox here.

Apple has also outed new cases for the iPhone 5c. They look like just flimsy rubber condoms from photos, but when you go hands-on you can really see the quality in the build.

The material that backs onto the phone is a soft felt so as not to scratch the unit, while the rear is made out of a pleasant-feeling rubber material, all held together by a rigid mid-section between the two layers. There are five different colour iPhones and six different coloured cases, meaning that there are 30 different combinations you can choose from, each as interesting as the last.

A lot of people are saying that the new cases make the new iPhone 5c look like a pair of cheap Crocs shoes, worn exclusively by lunatics, but I disagree. I think that the cases compliment the phones perfectly, unlike Crocs which compliment nobody thanks to their cheap build quality and the target market they're aimed at. The iPhone 5c and its colourful case counterpart are both aimed at fashion conscious twenty- and thirty-somethings.

We asked our the girls at our fashion-forward, style-conscious and always on-trend sister publications in the POPSUGAR Network about the new phones, and the response was resoundingly positive. Fluro colours are in, and so are the new iPhones. Personally, I love the new colours and the new cases, and the pink is something to behold whether you're a man or a woman.

What's Bad?

It's not for everyone.

I repeat: the iPhone 5c is not for everyone.

Because it's essentially last year's (still excellent) hardware, there isn't much point upgrading from the iPhone 5 to this. But that really shouldn't come as too much of a surprise for people who even pay casual attention to the smartphone market.

Apple's release cycle for smartphones goes on a tick-tock basis. One year we have a tick, the next we get a tock. Watch: iPhone 3G (tick). iPhone 3GS (tock). iPhone 4 (tick). iPhone 4S (tock), iPhone 5 (tick). iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c (tock). That's probably how it always has been and always will be.

Normally on a tick-cycle we get a handset that looks different, while the design stays the same into the tock-cycle with slightly better hardware. It's the way things go and the rule stays the same through all this: if you bought into tick, probably doesn't make sense to upgrade on tock and vice-versa.

The major issue with the iPhone 5c -- and we say this knowing it's not really a major issue at all -- is with the case. Say what you like about it -- that they look like Crocs or whatever -- but it's going to be excellent at picking up all the lint and scunge from the bottom of your pocket or handbag. Those rubber holes are ripe to be filled with a whole bunch of crap that risks grossing up your beautiful polycarbonate casing underneath. Just be mindful to clean it more regularly than you used to with the last iPhone to keep it tidy and gunk-free.

The only other real fault we can find with it is a few iOS 7 glitches here and there which will surely be ironed out over time.

Should You Buy It?

Do you have an iPhone 5, or an Android handset you bought within the last 12 months? Cool: the iPhone 5c is 100 per cent not for you. Go buy a colourful case from Apple or wherever you can find one that fits for you Androiders and be happy at pretty rainbows that don't break your bank balance.

If you're not one of those people, you should probably think about a 5c.

Despite the fact that it's still quite expensive, the iPhone 5c is meant for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 stalwarts. If you have one of those phones because you don't always need the new whiz-bang greatest hardware on the market, then the 5c is for you. It's the perfect upgrade for the mid-market hold-out customer.

I'm also predicting that a lot of parents will be buying the 5c for their teenage kids. It's the fashion accessory to be seen with these days, and just as they were crying out for the iPod Touch a few Christmases ago, the wishlist will be topped by the 5c this year.

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