Apple iPhone 5c review

25 Sep 2013

Solid hardware, but the colourful iPhone 5c is still too expensive to be a low-cost option

Price when reviewed: 
469(£469 inc VAT)more
4

A cheaper iPhone had been rumoured before Apple's big launch, and those rumours proved correct, with the iPhone 5c arriving in addition to the turbo-charged, 64-bit iPhone 5s. It's the first time Apple has launched two iPhones at once, and the first time it's gone in for colours other than white or black. But don't get too excited. The 5c doesn't represent a huge departure to what has gone before.

With the same 4in, 640 x 1,136 IPS display as the iPhone 5, the only changes are internal, and these are very small: a slightly bigger battery in the 5c and (UK customers will be pleased to see) full support for all current UK 4G networks. We used it on the Vodafone 4G network during the course of this review and it worked perfectly.

Elsewhere, the CPU is the same 1.3GHz dual-core A6 model, the RAM is still set at 1GB, and the cameras are the same resolution, at 8 megapixels on the rear and 1.2 megapixels on the front.

The 5c isn't even particularly cheap, with prices starting at £469 for the 16GB version SIM-free, and contracts starting at £31 per month for a free phone. Our current A-List favourite, the HTC One goes for around this amount with double the storage, and far more favourable contract prices.

The plastic case makes it feel a completely different handset to its metallic predecessor, though. It gives the 5c a softer, more palm-friendly feel. Some may argue it's a cheaper finish (it's certainly heavier, at 132g) and they're entitled to that view, but there's no evidence that build quality is significantly lower than with the aluminium-framed 5. Give the 5c a twist or a bend and there's very little give, nor any sign of worrisome creak.

However, we at PC Pro were disappointed on pulling our review sample from its plastic box for the first time, to discover the colours aren't that bright after all. The yellow is more crème anglaise than Birds Instant, and the others (blue, pink and green) look a bit like they've been left to fade in the sun. It's also available in white, which we suspect will be the most popular version.

Apple iPhone 5c

The 5c runs iOS 7, and we've no big beef with it. It adds some genuinely useful extras, such as the control centre, which places settings such as brightness, flight mode and Do Not Disturb at your fingertips, and it gives the OS a much-needed makeover. It would be remiss of us to ignore its teething troubles (you can read about those here and here), but we expect these to be ironed out in due course, and in any case we've found none likely to seriously hamper day-to-day use.

In fact, we've found the 5c runs perfectly smoothly with the new OS, scoring very similar scores to the iPhone 5 across the board. In SunSpider, a score of 718ms is as quick as we've seen from any smartphone, and the result of 1,645 in Geekbench 2 is competitive, too. Just like the iPhone 5 before it, there's plenty of juice for games: the 5c delivered a frame rate of 13fps in the GFXBench T-Rex HD (onscreen) test.

Details

Price ex VAT £391
Price inc VAT £469
Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £31.00
Contract period 24 months
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 3

Battery Life

Talk time, quoted 10hrs
Standby, quoted 10 days 9hrs

Physical

Dimensions 59 x 9 x 125mm (WDH)
Touchscreen yes

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 1MB
Camera megapixel rating 8.0mp
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 4.0in
Resolution 640 x 1136
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Other