iPhone 5C – first impressions

The rumoured 'cheap' iPhone might be colourful but is really just a recycled iPhone 5 in a plastic case – and it's not cheap either

• iPhone 5S – first impressions

Last night marked a break from tradition for Apple – it unveiled not one, but two new iPhones, including the vibrantly colourful iPhone 5C. How does the iPhone 5C stack up to the competition and the iPhone 5S?


The iPhone 5C was rumoured to be a "cheap" iPhone, and while it is slightly cheaper than the iPhone 5S, starting at £469 ($549) for the iPhone 5C off-contract with 16GB of storage and topping £549 ($649) for 32GB of space, it still commands a premium price. The iPhone 5C will likely cost significantly less when bought directly through mobile phone operators on a lengthy contract, but compared with its competitors, Apple's most colourful iPhone is still a pricy offering.


Apple has included the 8-megapixel camera from the previous generation iPhone 5, which although it is significantly down on the numbers compared with its Android competitors, produces solid, if unspectacular images.

The video-chat camera on the front of the iPhone 5C has been given a boost, with a 1.2-megapixel front-facing FaceTime HD camera featuring enhanced light sensitivity, which should make video calls much clearer and sharper.


Apple's main feature for the iPhone 5C is colour. For the first time since the iPhone 4, Apple has produced a phone with a seamless, smooth plastic back. The rear shell is available in five colours: green, yellow, blue, white and pink.

The iPhone 5C also comes with special wallpaper that matches the chosen colour on the back of the device, and combines with a very colourful, newly redesigned iOS 7 – Apple's latest mobile operating system.

The iPhone 5C screen features Apple's high resolution, pin-sharp 4-inch retina display, which is starting to look a little on the small side compared with 5in-plus Android and Windows Phones. But in terms of quality it should be as top-notch as ever, making photos look good and on-screen text very clear and easy to read.

Apple has also given the iPhone 5C access to its digital voice-activated personal assistant, Siri, which has been available on flagship iPhones since the iPhone 4S. While not often terribly useful for everyday tasks, the novelty of asking your phone questions while being able to set reminders and send text messages via voice, could come in handy.


For the iPhone 5C, Apple has taken many of the familiar elements of the iPhone 5 and put them in a vibrant new frame. The result is that Apple's new phone is just as fast as the iPhone 5 before it, equipped with the same A6 processor. That will make it significantly slower than Apple's new flagship, the iPhone 5S, which sports a new processor in the form of the Apple A7.

We'll have to wait for the benchmarks to see how it compares against rivals - and pricing will decide which those rivals are.


The 5C includes LTE, which is now an essential for any serious new smartphone. The 5C will work on all the UK 4G networks (though O2 has said it will need an unspecified "update") - a major step forward from its predecessor. The lack of LTE support is probably the reason why the iPhone 5 has been withdrawn: it just can't compete.

Battery life

The recycled parts from the iPhone 5 have been tweaked by Apple to squeeze out slightly more battery life for the iPhone 5C than the previous generation flagship. Apple rates its colourful iPhone has having 10 hours of talk time, and 10 hours of browsing time on Wi-Fi or LTE, with 250 hours of standby time. Real-world usage will, of course, vary.


Colour may turn out to be the biggest selling point for the 5C: it comes in five bright shades (white, strawberry pink, lemon yellow, lime green, sky blue), and a range of silicone cases in the same colours. You can mix the colours up (so there are 25 variations). Nokia offers colours with its Lumia range, but there's been no sign that people buy them because of it. Compared to Android models, which regardless of manufacturer tend to come in black or silver, Apple has made a bold statement - though it might not please case makers.


The iPhone 5C forms a new approach for Apple. Whether that is necessarily a bad thing is debatable. The iPhone 5 was a fantastic smartphone last year, and is still one of the best around, but people buying the iPhone 5C expecting to get a next-generation smartphone will be disappointed. The camera is improved, and LTE works across all UK networks, but for the whizzy features like fingerprint unlocking you have to look upward to the 5S.

Smartphones aren't all about numbers and specifications, however, as the experience of the phone is what counts the most and the iPhone 5C is undoubtedly going to be a slick experience.

With a starting price of £469 ($549) contract-free, the iPhone 5C is certainly not cheap, although bought with a mobile phone contract the price tag should be significantly lower. The iPhone 5S offers a lot more in terms of specifications and functionality, and being only £80 more, might be a better buy - unless bright colour is definitely your thing.

• This article was initially published with the headline 'iPhone 5C – review' but this has been corrected. Other details in the text have been amended and updated.


Samuel Gibbs

The GuardianTramp

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