Friday, October 4, 2013

Apple iPhone 5c Review,Why Should You Buy

The iPhone 5C marks a new era in Apple's mobile onslaught, as the Cupertino-based firm finally breaks rank from premium design and price by offering up a device which is slightly more affordable. Slightly being the key word there.

Before you start getting excited about the potential of a "cheap iPhone", be warned that the iPhone 5C is no mid-range Android rival, because with prices starting a £469 ($549, AU$739) for the a 16GB SIM-free handset you're still talking quite a lot of money.

If you fancy doubling your storage capacity to 32GB - remember the 5C is an Apple device so there's no microSD slot in sight - you can add another £80 ($100, AU$130) to that base price.
So let's bust one myth right from the off then - although one that Apple never promised in the first place. The iPhone 5C is not a cheap, budget device - it's a slightly cheaper offering compared to the premium, metal clad iPhone 5S which launched alongside this polycarbonate-clad phone.

Thanks to some price cuts in the past few months the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, Nokia Lumia 925 and Sony Xperia Z are all cheaper than the less feature packed iPhone 5C.
One way Apple has managed to keep the cost of the 5C down slightly is ditching the glass and aluminium body we've seen on every handset since the iPhone 4, and welcoming back the brazen use of polycarbonate we last saw on the iPhone 3GS.

Now the plastic versus metal debate is one which has been raging for a few years, with Apple fans blasting the top Samsung products such as the Galaxy S4 for looking and feeling cheap - but is it time for those people to eat their hats?

Pick up the iPhone 5C and there's no mistaking that this handset isn't clad in the premium materials which have adorned the more recent models, but that's not necessarily bad thing.
The polycarbonate exterior comes in a range of colourful options - green, yellow, pink, blue and white - and anyone who has owned an iPod will be well versed in these hues.

This is the first time we've seen the varied palette make it to the iPhone range however, prompting some mocking from Nokia who drew comparisons between the 5C and its fluorescent Lumia range - and to be fair there is a small similarity between it and the Lumia 625 front on.
The bright colours also make the iPhone 5C look a bit childish. Our green review handset for example could be mistaken for a toy phone from a distance and it doesn't exactly ooze the Apple quality we're used to seeing when unboxing an iPhone.
However, look beyond that and the iPhone 5C does feel structurally sound in the hand, no doubt helped by the steel frame hidden under the polycarbonate exterior and we found we were far less concerned about it smashing.

The steel frame also doubles as the 5C's antenna, meaning there's no risk of signal dropping if you fancy holding this iPhone in your left hand.
While the likes of the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5 are clad front and back in glass causing users to be wary at all times about the state of their smartphone, the iPhone 5C feels like it can be chucked into a bag without us having to worry about its condition when it comes to pulling it back out.
It's reassuring that the iPhone 5C feels like it is capable of taking a few knocks, because the slick, unibody plastic finish offers very little in the way of grip.

Apple does offer a range of equally colourful rubberised skins which you can slap onto your iPhone 5C to provide some much needed additional grip, but at £25 ($29, AU$39) a pop it's yet more money leaving your wallet - plus the odd hole design of these cases won't be to everyone's taste.
Of course third party accessory manufacturers will be falling over themselves to offer a multitude of cases, skins and other forms of protection for your iPhone 5C, so you'll be able to find cheaper alternatives out there.
At 124.4 x 59.2 x 8.97mm the iPhone 5C is slightly chunkier than the handset it's replacing, but considering the iPhone 5 was wafer thin the 5C certainly isn't overbearing in the hand and the added weight from a slightly larger battery means that it actually feels more substantial compared to the iPhone 5S.

iPhone 5C unboxing, in association with O2 Guru

The same minimalist attitude to buttons has been implemented on the iPhone 5C, with the famous home key the only navigational aid on the front of the device, while the power/lock resides at the top and the separated volume keys on the left.
Just above the volume keys is the small switch which is now synonymous with Apple's iDevice range, allowing you to quickly toggle silent/volume mode.
All the keys are easy enough to reach when holding the iPhone 5C in one hand, but thanks to the elongated nature of the device since Apple bumped the screen size up from 3.5 inches to 4 you need to stretch your fingers that extra bit to reach the power/lock button.

We'd much prefer this key to be located on the right hand side of the iPhone 5C, as it would make it that bit easier to access and avoids any awkward shuffling of the phone in the hand - but of course that would see Apple copying Samsung in terms of placement, and nobody wants to see any more accusations of copying coming along.
There's nothing else joining the power/lock key on top of the 5C after Apple relocated the headphone jack to the bottom with the iPhone 5 - a move which isn't to everyone's taste.
Joining the left aligned headphone jack on the base of the iPhone 5C is a centralised lightning port and stereo speakers either side to help you blast your tunes at grannies on the bus of conduct a more civilised speakerphone conversation.

Now the right hand side hasn't been left completely alone on the 5C, with Apple choosing this surface as the location for the SIM card tray - but unlike most smartphones that take microSIMs these days, iPhones now rock the tiny nanoSIM technology.
This means you'll have to talk to your network about getting a nanoSIM for your shiny new iPhone 5C before you'll be able to use it - that is unless you're upgrading from an iPhone 5, but we'd suggest that's pretty much a waste of money.
If you're coming from a similarly priced Android handset you'll probably think the iPhone 5C feels a little on the small size, with its 4-inch display more at home at the budget end of the rival OS's line up.

While the screen size might not be anything special, the 1136 x 640 Retina display is present and correct on the iPhone 5C, meaning it has the same offering as both the iPhone 5 and 5S.
There are even more similarities with the iPhone 5, as you'll find the same A6 processor, 8MP rear camera, 1.9 MP front camera, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 in the 5C.
The iPhone 5C is 4G enabled of course, but more supports even more bands meaning it'll work even more networks around the world - Apple claims the 5C and the 5S support the widest range of 4G bands out of any smartphone currently on the market.
So what have we got so far then? Well, the iPhone 5C is a slightly overweight iPhone 5 with a plastic body, larger battery and a slightly lower price tag. If anything it looks to be a bit of a hard sell on paper - but with iOS 7 on board, there's a litany of places where it might it might excel.

The iPhone 5c is an easy device to write off. Essentially a repackaged iPhone 5, Apple’s cheaper and more colorful handset ditches metal for plastic, subtlety for pop. If ever there was an Apple product that was designed to be seen, this would be it—and that’s the point. Instead of chamfered space gray edges or lavish gold paint jobs, the iPhone 5c sports vibrant hues of blue, pink, green, yellow and white. The expanded palette is very reminiscent of Apple’s own iPod lineup. Or, if it even matters, Nokia’s Lumia family, which also proudly wears bright colors.
For the most part, the 5c is like every iPhone over the past few years: familiar, impressively engineered, not particularly exceptional. Against Apple’s own teched out 5s, which comes with Touch ID and a revamped camera, the 5c is an obvious strategic move, catering especially to the average consumer, someone looking for a cheap smartphone that works well; this is not, by any stretch of the imagination, for the hardcore enthusiast—it’s also not quite as bad as you might think.

Considered a mid-range Apple smartphone, the iPhone 5c sports (nearly) the same specs as the iPhone 5, a device that came out this time last year; the screen is the same size and resolution, the processor, storage options and rear-facing camera are all the same. The only internal differences—front-facing camera, battery—are things you won’t really notice. Apple’s new device is clearly, almost exclusively, about looks. Jony Ive even said as much by referring to the 5c as “unapologetically plastic.”
Having used the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c, I had my reservations about Apple’s decision to run back into the clutches of plastic. Why ditch the iPhone 5, which is still one of the most beautifully designed smartphones on the market, and “downgrade” to material largely perceived as inferior? My guess is Apple wanted to differentiate between two distinct iPhone devices; one is fun, colorful, almost indestructible in its construction, while the other has specs and features only diehard fans would appreciate.

Imagine a buyer, who is platform agnostic, going into a store and seeing Apple’s colorful devices lined up side-by-side; that person then starts to associate those colors with other things (not technology-related) that they love, which in turn begins to make the iPhone 5c an attractive product. Specs don’t matter; all that person knows is that the operating system is easy to use and the camera is terrific. It’s perfect as an entry device; maybe for a teenager, or for mom or dad, neither of which cares much for quad-core chips or giant screens. Android has dominated the lower-end spectrum, and the 5c is meant to disrupt that. Oh, Apple has a cheap iPhone now? I’ll take that.

In the past, Apple has used the color strategy to good effect; the 5c gives the company wider reach into largely untapped markets, and keeps the design feeling fresh. And what a wonderful design it is. With more rounded edges and a solid piece of plastic, the 5c feels much better than I or anyone in TechnoBuffalo’s Irvine office expected. Obviously not quite as premium as the 5s, but you can tell Apple didn’t cut any corners when designing its cheaper handset—that’s thanks, in large part, to the metal skeleton below the colorful plastic exterior.
Plastic is often associated with cheap; this year in particular there’s been a lot of fuss made in the industry. But the iPhone 5c in no way, shape, or form feels cheap in its construction. It actually feels just as nice as any other more expensive devices out there. You don’t feel like it’ll scratch or get chipped, and you’re not afraid to just plop it down onto a table. It might be my more obsessive tendencies, but with my iPhone 5 I’m always worried it’ll get scratched or otherwise mutilated through no fault of my own. Not so with the 5c. For context, it feels just as strong as any high-end Lumia, though not a squarish and heavy. Worth noting: the iPhone 5s does attract quite a few fingerprints, but what device doesn’t? I can see now why there’s no black option.

Personally, I have no issue with Apple sticking with a 4-inch screen. I wouldn’t mind something larger, maybe as big as the Moto X, but I don’t pine for more real estate every time the device comes out of my pocket (others will obviously disagree, and that’s fine). Maybe it’s because I’m not a “power user”—for the most part, I simply take pictures, browse websites, and text—but I don’t need a 5.7-inch display. However, as more and more handsets jump into phablet territory, there’s certainly pressure on Apple to conform, and rumors suggest the company will next year. But I wouldn’t refrain from recommending an iPhone based solely on screen size alone; that’s up to personal preference, of course.

Performance-wise, the iPhone 5c is perfectly acceptable; you won’t even notice it’s equipped with year-old specs, nor will you care. Expectations these days are so overblown. Apps load quickly, pictures snap in an instant, and everything else runs smooth as butter. Apple has a reputation for optimizing hardware/software, and that’s on full display here. No, it’s not quite as powerful as Apple’s own iPhone 5s, which comes with a new A7 chip, but Apple’s ecosystem is so fine-tuned and polished that the differences (as of now) are imperceptible. You don’t get the benefits of slow motion video capture, or a burst shooting mode, but otherwise the iPhone 5c is just as capable as its more expensive brother.

When Apple officially unveiled the 5c, the company’s executives made a huge point to highlight the seamlessness between the device’s design and iOS 7, which had been reborn under Jony Ive. The two, Apple said, were designed together, meant to create an experience where each divide is bridged into a single entity; the colors, icons and contours could be described as one. “You feel color throughout the entire experience,” Apple said. Having used the 5c since the day it launched, I have no issue saying Apple thoroughly achieved this. Compared to my iPhone 5, the experience of iOS 7 on a bright blue iPhone 5c felt more intuitive, complementary, clearly borne from the same womb.

Apple’s new software is by itself a fresh experience, unrestricted by its skeuomorphic past. No more leather, no more felt. The camera app is now much more intuitive, while multi-tasking borrows from webOS’s famous cards implementation. Notification Center is more densely packed with information, there’s a new Control Center for easy settings access, and iTunes Radio, a service aimed squarely at Pandora, is built-in. Nothing that hasn’t been done before, but they’re done very well, and in a very Apple-y way. That’s not to say iOS 7 is a perfect reimagining; calendar is confusing, animations are literally nauseating, and the neon colors are an acquired taste. Overall, though, we really like the direction Apple is going.
The rest of the iPhone 5c, unsurprisingly, works very well, because it’s basically an iPhone 5. Speakers are loud, phone calls are crisp, and the camera itself is still very good. The volume buttons aren’t circular like they are on the 5/5s, but that’s of no consequence—you press them like any other buttons. I had no Wi-Fi issues, and data was speedy where I live. Battery life was also quite good—again, I’m not a power user—and easily lasted me through the day, though your mileage will vary depending on how much you use your device.