Apple iPhone 5c

The iPhone 5c is last year's iPhone 5 with a shiny new coat of paint. At Australian prices, the iPhone 5s is a far better choice.


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Seamus Byrne is the Editor of CNET Australia. At other times he'll be found messing with apps, watching TV, building LEGO, and rolling dice. Usually at the same time.


Plastic. "Unapologetically plastic" are the words Apple has used, and that really is the essence of the iPhone 5c. Colour. Gloss. Excitement. It is set to be available in blue, white, yellow, pink and green, with a further range of case styles to add flair and make a colour combination you'll rarely see other users carrying.

The plastic casing is reinforced with a steel chassis directly underneath, so it actually feels like a tough little customer. A little thicker and heavier than the iPhone 5 (and iPhone 5s, which is the exact same weight and dimension as last year), it feels much tougher than even flagship phones with plastic cases, like the Samsung Galaxy and Note range.

The new design makes room for a slightly bigger battery, which delivers, you guessed it, slightly better performance. The new design also upgrades the front-facing camera — all the better to selfie with — and for wandering souls, it upgrades the long-term evolution chip for better worldwide performance.

But at its heart, this is a review that can keep it simple and stick to one basic idea: this is the iPhone 5 with a sassy new style.

While every iPhone 5 owner will also be getting iOS 7 as a free upgrade, it's worth noting that part of that styling means you get colour-matched wallpaper by default on the iPhone 5c. This really is a style-focused update to catch the eye of the fashion-conscious buyer.

Performance

The iPhone 5c performs almost exactly as the iPhone 5 did, as you can see in the charts below.

SunSpider 1.0.1: JavaScript performance test (ms)

  • 399.7
  • iPhone 5s
  • 727.2
  • iPhone 5c
  • 841
  • iPhone 5
  • 1033
  • HTC One
  • 1182.2
  • Samsung Galaxy S4
  • 907.9
  • Nokia Lumia 1020

(Shorter bar equals better performance)


GFXBench: 2.5 Egypt HD off-screen test (frames per second)

  • 56
  • iPhone 5s
  • 29
  • iPhone 5c
  • 29
  • iPhone 5
  • 36
  • HTC One
  • 40
  • Samsung Galaxy S4

(Longer bar equals better performance. Lumia 1020 excluded — no OpenGL support)


GFXBench: 2.7 T-Rex HD off-screen test (frames per second)

  • 24
  • iPhone 5s
  • 6.8
  • iPhone 5c
  • 6.4
  • iPhone 5
  • 15
  • HTC One
  • 16
  • Samsung Galaxy S4

(Longer bar equals better performance. Lumia 1020 excluded — no OpenGL support)


The 5c's SunSpider performance is actually not insignificant in its improvement, which is likely chalked up to iOS 7 boosting performance on the same hardware. Directly compared with other flagship phones of 2013, Apple's 2012 hardware still performs incredibly well and better than most on the SunSpider test, so the A6 chip still stacks up to most current standards.

Conclusion

The iPhone 5c is not for people who read tech news websites. It's for those who want something that looks fresh and exciting from Apple even if it isn't packing the latest and greatest features in town. It is for those who want to show the world they bought something new. Whether what lies beneath that surface is new isn't a big concern.

For our purposes, this is last year's phone with a few minor upgrades and a very glossy new chassis. No other plastic-cased phone has felt so solid in the hand, and the iPhone 5 as a system is still a great phone that many users will continue to use through until the iPhone 6 arrives next year.

But Australian pricing makes this too hard to recommend. On a 24-month contract, the iPhone 5s can be yours for as little as AU$4 extra per month. There is so much power on offer for those extra dollars it should be an easy choice for anyone reading a site like ours.

If it was given to you and you had to use it, it would serve you very well. It is a fine iPhone based on hardware that we have found very powerful over the past12 months and with iOS 7 it only gets better.

But if the choice is yours, choose the 5s.

In many ways, the 5c will become a very interesting option next year when it takes its place at the bottom tier of Apple's range. When it truly becomes that "cheap" device the rumours have longed for, this design will become a very attractive proposition. But this year, it sits just a little too far up the food chain to make it a strong recommend.

Do you want the phone that has a new shell but the same CPU? Or the phone that looks the same but has some incredible new hardware under the bonnet? It will be very interesting to see what buyers decide as the phones go on sale on Friday.



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Disappointed_Iphone5C_user
4
Rating
 

"Hang onto your old IPhone as long as possible this is not worth an upgrade"

Disappointed_Iphone5C_user posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Almost nothing

The Bad:See full review, which covers most of the basic features one needs a mobile for.

As an owner of the 5c and quite disappointed with it i feel compelled to post a full review.

I upgraded from a 4 to a 5C about 1 month ago after stupidly upgrading my 4 handset to the latest OS, and the whole thing just stopped working properly or responding.

Iphone 5C review:
Vibrate - the vibrate feature is no longer strong enough to feel or hear unless it is physically touching you. While walking through the noisy CBD I would rely on the vibration coming through the handles on my handbag to know the phone was ringing - but vibrate is pretty much useless now.

Trying to answer the phone is a pain in the arse as the swipe to answer feature frequently doesn't recognise you're swiping!

Accessing contacts in the phone book doesn't work properly as the phone doesn't recognise that you're tapping any of the letters to the side.

Trying to close pictures by tapping on the X to close frequently doesn't work either - can take many many frustrating attempts.

The home button works just well enough for you to feel sure it is going to break or stop working as soon as the warranty is out - it doesn't feel robust, and frequently takes a few attempts of pushing it for it to respond....not quite enough for one to take it back to the shop, but enough for me to have no confidence in it lasting at least 2 years.

Getting used to the new OS took a couple of days - it's not better or worse than the old system, it just takes too long to get used to, and isn't as intuitive as the old system. Not sure why they tried to fix something that wasn't broken.

New ring tones and speaker volume aren't quite adequate (no i'm not deaf I'm just frequently in noisy situations). Coupled with crappy vibration, this can make it difficult for me to even know someone wants my attention.

Overall - a piece of shite phone - don't bother - as a mobile phone user from the days of the analog nokia/ motorola, this is the first time I've been really disappointed by a new phone. A month of ownership and I still don't like it. Due to the money I've layed out I will hang onto it until it dies as with all previous phones...but I definitely won't be buying another IPhone.

 

AndreaM1 posted a reply   

These problems you're having are all relating to the ios7 software not the phone itself.

 

IanE posted a comment   

I tested an iPhone 5C yesterday with the main purpose of comparing its 3G signal strength in remote locations and to a lesser extent its battery life. I was very pleased with the result after Apple announcing the removal of 4S16Gb and higher models off the market. I have used both the iPhone 4S & 5 extensively and was disappointed in the 5 for its signal strength & its battery life. To hear the 5C was given a blue tick from Telstra (and not the 5S), i was encouraged! I think the 5C will find its market place for rural users, as it was better in all aspects to the 4S, which is pretty popular currently. I was able to send texts, and make calls that was legible where the 4S had no signal at all. My limited used showed the battery was better than the 5 with its equally large screen, but I'll reserve my judgement on that one for a while longer!

 

Will1505 posted a comment   

Disadvantage point should read instead of "Local pricing just too close to iPhone 5s"........."Over twice the price of any other mid-range phone on the market"

 

Pining posted a comment   
Australia

"The plastic casing is reinforced with a steel chassis directly underneath, so it actually feels like a tough little customer."

You would have to be taking your readers as fools.

How many Android models have you branded as feeling and/or looking 'cheap' for no other reason than they had a plastic type cover.

This phone is nothing more than an old, outdated model (of a year ago,) with a cheaper covering.

You give it 7.7......

Review....advertising......advertising.....review! (I can't seem to tell the difference....)

 

abfabsweetiedarling posted a comment   

For those tech news site readers who don't game, don't want their fingerprints stored on private hardware/servers, don't take photos except for facebook/viewing on the phone, and don't fancy a phone that needs a co-processor that works to slow up the energy used by the main processor...

...but do fancy saving $100 which could be spent elsewhere, and do like bright colours...the 5c might well be an option. :P

 

BuckR posted a comment   

Personally, I expected the 5C to go after the lower-spend market more competitively. Great that it doesn't like to compromise, but no point losing half the market in the process. I would find the extra $130.




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User Reviews / Comments  Apple iPhone 5c

  • Disappointed_Iphone5C_user

    Disappointed_Iphone5C_user

    Rating4

    "As an owner of the 5c and quite disappointed with it i feel compelled to post a full review.

    I upgraded from a 4 to a 5C about 1 month ago after stupidly upgrading my 4 handset to the..."

  • IanE

    IanE

    "I tested an iPhone 5C yesterday with the main purpose of comparing its 3G signal strength in remote locations and to a lesser extent its battery life. I was very pleased with the result after Apple..."

  • Will1505

    Will1505

    "Disadvantage point should read instead of "Local pricing just too close to iPhone 5s"........."Over twice the price of any other mid-range phone on the market""

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