The iPhone 5C, the colourful new plastic phone from Apple, is the same phone Apple introduced last year.
It has the same processor, same rear camera, same screen (4 inches), and same glitzy new iOS 7 software that most iPhones and iPads updated to this month. For specs geeks, the only new things you'll see are a slightly larger battery and a slightly better front-facing camera for video chats.
But the iPhone 5C is really just the iPhone 5 covered in shiny plastic that comes in five colour options.
However, that doesn't make the iPhone 5C a bad phone.
I'm not a fan of plastic phones. They often feel flimsy and not at all like the ~$600 premium pocket computers they're marketed as. Samsung is perhaps the biggest offender with the Galaxy S4, an unattractive device wrapped in creaky, cheap-feeling plastic.
But the "C" in iPhone "5C" does not stand for cheap. The plastic feels really good, almost like ceramic. It's polished with a shiny lacquered coating, to the point where the device is almost slippery. There aren't any bends, creaks, or squeaks when you grip it. The buttons (also plastic) feel like they're moulded directly into the body. They're so sturdy that I was surprised I could even press them.
[image url="http://static.businessinsider.com/image/523c773f6bb3f70c078d4dba/image.jpg" alt="IPhone 5C back" link="lightbox" size="xlarge" align="center" nocrop="true" clear="true" source="Steve Kovach/Business Insider"]
The iPhone 5C may be the cheaper of Apple's two new iPhones, but it still feels like a premium product.
I laughed out loud when Apple's design guru Jony Ive called the iPhone 5C "unapologetically plastic" in the device's promo video, but now I know what he meant. Apple doesn't do anything on the cheap.
It's attractive too. I'm personally not a fan of the colour options, but I'm sure there are plenty of people looking for something beyond the black, white, and gold variants the iPhone 5S comes in. The 5C is a little thicker and heavier than the iPhone 5/5S due to the heavy duty plastic coating, but it's still plenty thin and light compared to other rival smartphones.
Colourful Inside And Out
But other than the pretty colours, the iPhone 5C is still the same device Apple gave us last year. You get all the same apps, services, and features as any other iPhone running iOS 7. That means you also get Apple's refreshed software and redesigned apps right out of the box. In short, there's nothing the iPhone 5C can do that the iPhone 5 can't. It's that simple.
[image url="http://static.businessinsider.com/image/523c773c6bb3f7980b8d4dad/image.jpg" alt="IPhone 5C home screen" link="lightbox" size="xlarge" align="center" nocrop="true" clear="true" source="Steve Kovach/Business Insider"]
Each iPhone 5C ships with a wallpaper that matches the outside plastic. It's our first sign of how Apple now thinks about its hardware and software design. The two are interconnected, thanks mostly due to the fact that Jony Ive is now in charge of all design Apple. (Before he just designed hardware.) In a way, the colourful new iOS 7 feels more natural on the iPhone 5C than it does on the 5S or any other iThing. It's almost as if Ive and his team designed the software to fit the 5C first and just ported it to the rest of the iPhone/iPad family.
You probably shouldn't buy the iPhone 5C. It's a great device, but you can get the best Apple has to offer for just $US100 more. And the iPhone 5S will likely hold up much better in another year or two than the iPhone 5C will. Apple tends to only add the best new software features on its best phones, so there's a chance the iPhone 5C could be left out in the future because its hardware is too old.
So unless you really want to save $US100 and really want a bright and colourful phone, the 5S is a better choice.
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