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Thread: Our iPhone 5c review: The 3 C's of the iPhone 5c

  1. #1
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    Our iPhone 5c review: The 3 C's of the iPhone 5c

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    Apple recently released their new flagship phone, the iPhone 5s. However, unlike previous years where they took the old iPhone and discounted it, they’ve replaced the old 5 with a new model - the 5c.

    Apple isn’t saying why they choose the letter “C”, but the first things that come to my head are Cheap, Colour and Chinese. Apparently Apple is really targeting China with the release of their new iPhones. As for cheap, the 5c is only $100 cheaper than the top-of-the-line 5s. So, while it’s cheaper, it’s still priced like an iPhone. Probably the best guess is that the “C” stands for colour. Yup, you can get the 5c is white, blue, yellow, green and pink.

    It’s funny but coloured phones aren’t that common in the marketplace and when there are different colours, they’re usually just white and black with maybe some other colours being made available months after launch. With the 5c you can get it in all 5 colours from the very beginning.

    Outside of the 5s and the 5, people might cross-shop the 5c with the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One which cost similar money or are slightly cheaper on-contract.

    vs iPhone 5s:

    The main motivation to get the 5s is if you want a phone with a metal body that’s available with a silver, grey or gold back. You also get a much faster processor, a better camera, the M7 processor (saves power if you’re using sport tracking apps) and the fancy new finger print reader.

    The 5c has 2 advantages - it’s available in 5 different colours plus it’s cheaper. For the price of a 16GB 5s you can get a 32GB 5c. If you download a lot of apps, the extra 16GB goes a long way. Take Infinity Blade 3 for example; it takes up a hefty 2.1GB. Considering that you can only use around 12GB out of 16GB a 32GB iPhone 5c sounds a lot easier to live with than a 16GB 5s.

    vs iPhone 5:

    As far as I can tell, the 5 is the same basic phone as the 5c with 3 minor changes. Besides the colours the 5c has much greater LTE band support. To be honest, here in Canada we use 2 bands for LTE: AWS and Band 7. The 5c doesn’t support band 7 so if you don’t travel much - the extra bands are nice to have but not a must-have. I did notice that the 5c has slightly better RF performance.

    The front-facing camera is slightly better on the 5c. If you do a lot of Face-timing this is a good thing. It’s not a dramatic difference but I did notice it when I examined pictures taken with them side-by-side.

    To me, right now some carriers are offering discounts on the 5 which actually make it cheaper than the 5c. This is especially true if you get the 32GB iPhone 5 or the 64GB 5 (5c isn’t available with 64GB of storage).

    vs Galaxy S4:

    Before you consider an Android phone you have to decide on whether you want Android or iOS. If you’re already invested in iOS you should probably just stay put.

    If you’re trying to decide between the GS4 and 5c, off the top of my head, here are four of the GS4’s strengths in no particular order:

    • Bigger screen
    • Memory card slot
    • Bigger battery
    • Open Android ecosystem


    Here are the 5c’s strengths

    • iOS ecosystem
    • Easier to use with one hand
    • Software is updated more frequently
    • Comes in 5 different colours


    vs HTC One/LG G2:

    If you’re thinking of a 5c vs Galaxy S4, you should really be deciding between the 5c vs HTC One or LG G2. I didn’t include the Note 3 because a) it’s not technically out yet here in Canada, b) it’s going to cost more, c) the size difference is too great.

    Again, I’m going to be very brief but get the HTC One if you want:

    • Bigger screen
    • Better low-light camera performance
    • Better sounding speakers
    • Image stabilized lens


    As for the G2:

    • Bigger screen (bigger than HTC One and GS4)
    • Image stabilized lens
    • Amazing battery life
    • 2600Mhz LTE Cat 4 support (up to 150Mbps on Bell and Rogers)


    Screen:

    If you own a 5 or even a 5s then there’s nothing to say about the 5c’s screen. It’s the same screen with the same accurate colours, excellent viewing angles and top-notch outdoor performance.

    If you own a 4s, the 5c display is also not all that different. Assuming you have a 4s from 2 years ago, it will probably be a little dimmer (due to age) but other then that, it’s just a bit taller with a few more pixels (1136x640 vs 960x640).

    Body:

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    The biggest change with the 5c is that the sides and back are now covered with plastic instead of metal and glass.

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    Even though the body is plastic, it’s a very well put together phone. It doesn’t feel any less solid than the iPhone 5/5s

    The plastic looks good, I like how the switch and buttons match perfectly. There’s a certain bit of ‘Nokia-ness’ to the 5c.

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    To be honest, I think Nokia’s colour choices are better. Nokia’s blue, yellow look better than the 5c - they’re more fun looking. The Red/Pink is neither colour and just looks kind of off. The white looks fine but I think the best colour is the green.

    I actually think they look better in pictures than in person.

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    headphone jack, lightning connector, speaker

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    nano SIM slot

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    volume buttons, silent mode slider

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    power button

    Camera:

    I tested the 5 and 5c cameras side-by-side and to be honest, I don’t see any difference. Both have the same specs, a f/2.4 lens and a sensor that maxes out at ISO 3200. Even though the 5/5c cameras have been surpassed by the 5s’, the 5/5c cameras are still pretty competitive with other camera phones. It has good low light performance and decent dynamic range.

    I didn’t test if the 5c has the 5’s purple fringing problem (it rarely happens in the real world) but I didn’t notice it in any of the pictures I took.

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    left to right: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5

    Compared to the 5, the 5c’s front facing camera sensor has slightly better low-light performance. It’s not a huge difference but I guess every bit counts since it allows for more flexibility.

    Software:

    Like the 5 and 5s, you get Apple’s iOS 7. It’s a face-lift of previous versions plus it adds a couple of new features. There’s now a control center when you swipe up from the bottom of the screen. You can use it to toggle certain settings, adjust brightness, media playback plus there are shortcuts to the flashlight (finally), clock app, calculator and camera.

    The camera app now has a square mode (I’m serious) if you don’t want a rectangular shaped photo.

    The pictures app now has some new views.

    There’s a new Airdrop feature which lets you share files and information with other iPhones via Bluetooth and WiFi.

    Performance:

    The 5c's performance is identical to the iPhone 5. I don't have anything to add here. Check out my 5s review for some iPhone 5 benchmarks.

    Media Playback:

    If you use iTunes and or buy most of your media from Apple, then the 5c provides a seamless experience. My only complaints are that the video player doesn’t support pop-out video like many Samsung, LG and even Huawei phones plus there is limited codec support. Then again, I guess you could argue that since the 5c has a small 4” screen, pop-out video wouldn’t be such a good idea.

    On the other hand, If you have a lot of your own videos, you might want to consider something else since you can’t expand the 5c’s storage. You’re stuck with whatever it came with. Don’t forget that Apple charges $100 if you want to make the jump from 16GB to 32GB. If you had an Android phone with a MicroSD (Samsung or Huawei typically) you could pick up a 32 and 64GB MicroSD cards for that price.

    As a Phone:

    HC no i wondered whether the 5c’s plastic case would mean it would have an advantage over the 5s in the RF performance department. I tested both the 5c and 5s simultaneously with a Rogers SIM card, and observed both have similar HSPA performance.

    RF performance is excellent - it’s slightly better than the iPhone 5 which is already pretty good.

    Sound quality is slightly rough but good overall. Maximum earpiece volume is also very good.

    The built-in speaker is loud and sounds decent though it’s not as good as the HTC One’s speaker.

    Battery life is better than the 5 but I think most users will have trouble making it through the day.

    Conclusion:

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    If you don’t care about having a coloured phone, don’t need the slightly better front-facing camera and don’t need the extra LTE band support, you’re probably better off looking for a deal on an iPhone 5. Right now some carriers are giving further discounts on the 5. For example Bell has a secret promo, $50 off the 5 which brings it down to $79. Further, the 5 is available in 64GB sizes plus the 32GB 5 is $50 less than the 5c right now. So I guess you could say, if you want a 5c because it’s cheaper then the phone you really want is the 5 so get one while you still can.

    On the other hand, the 5c comes in 5 different colours - that’s going to be appealing to many types of users - and to them, the colours are more appealing than any of the hardware in the 5c. I have to admit, the coloured bodies really fit in well with the 5c’s minimalist design.

    Pros:

    • Comes in many colours
    • many LTE bands supported
    • screen
    • RF performance
    • easy to use with one hand


    Cons:

    • no 2600Mhz LTE support
    • Expensive
    • screen feels cramped at times

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by howard
    The main motivation to get the 5s is if you want a phone with a metal body that’s available with a silver, grey or gold back. You also get a much faster processor, a better camera, the M7 processor (saves power if you’re using sport tracking apps) and the fancy new finger print reader.
    I agree that outwardly the biggest difference for the 5S from the 5C is the metal body. But IMO what's much more important is the faster CPU and camera and of course the fingerprint sensor. These three features are IMO what make the 5S a no-brainer over the 5C, unless you are really budget conscious. The metal body is just a bonus IMO, but of course, everyone's priorities are different. I will note that the 5S 16 GB is only 20% more than the 5C, but it is much, much more of a machine. And if you're talking the 32 GB model, the 5S is only 12% more. In that context, I'd have to say the 5S 32 GB (gold! ) is by far the best "value" if you have a decent amount of multimedia you plan on using with the phone.

    With regards to TouchID, using their demo app, I tested it for quite a while today. It worked perfectly with my thumb 15 times in a row, with the thumb at various angles. When I tried my thumb's skin over the interphalangeal joint (ie. below the usual thumb print area), it didn't work, which is to be expected because I had not trained TouchID for that part of my thumb. Also, the other 9 fingers didn't work. Then I tried my thumb again 5 times, and it worked perfectly every time. All of a sudden, the 5/5C's regular home button seems like ancient technology.

    As for performance, I tried the most laggy spot in iOS 7, which strangely enough is selecting a picture form the camera roll for the background. On the iPhone 5S the lag is less than 0.5 seconds, but there is still a lag there. On the iPhone 5C it's more like 1 s. On my iPhone 4 it's several seconds. (I am guessing what it may doing is taking the high MP picture and resizing it for the background, before you even set it as the background. If true, that seems odd to me. I would think it'd make more sense to do that resizing after you finally confirm you want to change the background to that picture.)

    Also, I noticed some choppiness on the 5C for the viewscreen in camera photo mode. (I would expect the 5 would have the same, but I don't have the 5.) On the 5S, that view is buttery smooth. On the 5C it almost looks like the image stabilizer is kicking in and readjusting 6-8 times per minute or something (just guessing). I've made a little video here to demonstrate the difference:



    (I didn't check to see if there were any image stabilizer settings though. Our current iPhone is a 4, so many of the settings are different on this phone compared to the 5C and 5S. Since there are no such settings on the 4, it didn't occur to me to check to see if there were any for the 5S and 5C. Or perhaps the 5C's screen just refreshes less often in camera mode, I dunno.)

    Also you'll see in the video that the burst mode on the 5S is about 10 fps. Furthermore, the photos are grouped together as a single collection for each burst mode shoot. In contrast, although the 5/5C has a pseudo-burst mode in iOS 7, it's only 2-3 fps, and the photos are not shown as burst mode collections in the camera roll. They are shown as individual pictures.

    So, to each his own, but I think I'd pay the extra $100-120 for the 5S over the 5C just for the camera alone. And I'd also consider doing the same for just the fingerprint sensor alone. Given that, and the fact that the CPU is MUCH faster, and of course if you like the metal body, it seems to me the 5S is the no-brainer "value" proposition, at least if you're considering a 32 GB model. If you're spending $$$, what's another 12%?

    That said, if I HAD to get a lower priced iPhone, the 5C is still quite a capable phone. I would recommend though looking at those colours in person. I thought I'd like the white, blue, and maybe red-pink. However, real life it turns out I liked the yellow the best, and really didn't like the blue or the pink. In fact the pink looks fluorescent with a heavy orange tinge to it.
    Last edited by Eug; 09-28-2013 at 10:53 PM.
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    I've never felt it to be worthwhile to get anything but the best phone if you're getting a discount in exchange for a contract (a.k.a. subsidy).

    If there's a deep discount that sees a 200$ gap between a 5S and 5C, I'd be tempted; but at a 100$ difference ... no deal. 2 years down the line you'll probably get 50$ more for your 5S... so you're selling yourself short for a mere 25$/year.

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    That is a good point. The resale value of the 5S will be much more assuming it isn't all scratched up.

    I also agree the 5/5C would have beem more interesting if it was $200 less than the 5S. However, for this reason I'm pretty sure a 5S will be worth $100 more or perhaps even more than that vs. the 5 or 5C on the used market.

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    Thank you for the reviews. Do you have to use the fingerprint feature on the 5s or can you skip it altogether?

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    There is no requirement to use the fingerprint feature on the 5s, it is just there if you want to use it. My experience is there is no reason not to use it, it works very well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mogelijk View Post
    There is no requirement to use the fingerprint feature on the 5s, it is just there if you want to use it. My experience is there is no reason not to use it, it works very well.
    Thank you for answering. My problem with the fingerprint is just that I'm sure the NSA etc will be uploading and collecting.

    I'm not a criminal and have no record. I just emphatically resent what they're doing.

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    From what I've read of the technology, there is no actual fingerprint for the NSA to take. Instead, the iPhone merely stores a template of the fingerprint, not an actual copy of the fingerprint. Basically, it is only storing a few points of data about the fingerprint and it isn't uploading a copy to Apple servers, instead it remains on the device.

    Though, I suppose I'm not that worried about it because the NSA already has my fingerprints (was in the military and had a security clearance).

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    Quote Originally Posted by mogelijk View Post
    From what I've read of the technology, there is no actual fingerprint for the NSA to take. Instead, the iPhone merely stores a template of the fingerprint, not an actual copy of the fingerprint. Basically, it is only storing a few points of data about the fingerprint and it isn't uploading a copy to Apple servers, instead it remains on the device.

    Though, I suppose I'm not that worried about it because the NSA already has my fingerprints (was in the military and had a security clearance).
    So did the guy who shot up that work place recently, but that's not relevant.

    I don't think I trust a corporation or a govt not to misuse the data they collect. Oh well. People don't have to use that feature so, except for iOS 7, it's all good.

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    A number of enterprises won't allow it's use for logging in unless they have weak or undefined biometric rules. While I don't use it to log in, (work restriction) I found it does come in handy for use in the app store.
    Next device is currently being researched... and beer .....

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    Still very over priced. Similar android phones cost $100.

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    Quote Originally Posted by da_sok View Post
    Still very over priced. Similar android phones cost $100.
    You do realize that you are responding to a post over 1 year old?? Little late to the party.
    Don't make me turn this car around.....

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