The wait is over. After much hype and rumour, Apple’s mid-tier Apple iPhone 5C device is now on the market. However, as V3 found out this morning, the 5C was not on the radar for many Apple fans who had camped out waiting for its latest devices.
But while diehards may only have eyes for the iPhone 5S, others may well be enticed by the device, especially as it represents a lower cost alternative to Apple's new flagship phone. However, it is not exactly a cheap device, with the 32GB version V3 managed to get its hands on costing £549 SIM-free and running on EE's speedy 4G network.
For that price, the device – marketed as “unashamedly plastic” – will have to be seriously impressive to entice buyers.
After the usual setup, the new iOS 7 interface greeted us with its revamped look, and the device was as zippy as you would hope, powered by Apple's own A6 processor, the same chip found in the original iPhone 5.
This means that opening and switching between applications – using the new Windows Phone-style interface – is quick and easy, while applications such as the camera load instantly. However, it will take a full review to see if the device really is as quick and nippy as you ought to expect for a phone costing over £500.
Talking of the camera, Apple has loaded the 5C with an 8MP iSight lens that it claims delivers “startlingly sharp photo quality”. But while the camera is more than adequate for the casual user, compared with some top-end devices – notably the Nokia Lumia 1020 – it’s not up to scratch.
The two images below were taken on the iPhone 5C and a now-ancient iPhone 4. While the upper photo shot on the iPhone 5C is clearly better than the one below (and was correctly identified by all V3 team members as the new 5C) it doesn’t seem supremely better than the iPhone 4.
Above: Taken on an iPhone 5C
Above: The iPhone 4 photo
It is perhaps not surprising that the iPhone 5C camera is nothing more than standard. It will be more than enough for most users – whether loyal Apple fans or first-timers – as it is not meant to be its flagship device. It will be interesting, then, to compare the iPhone 5S to other high-end devices, to see if offers a noticeable improvement.
The iPhone 5C does come with some nice in-built camera functions that mean if you don’t want to use Instagram to add talent to your photos, you don’t have to, as the iPhone has the ability to retro up your snaps natively. It also offers square and panaromic photo formats, if you’re so inclined.
There's no point in skirting around the issue any longer. Yes, as Jony Ive admitted, it is a plastic device. Does it show? Well, yes. It just doesn't feel like an iPhone. It doesn't feel like a premium device. It feels nice, sure, and you still know you have a lovely phone in your hand, but not one that should cost over £500.
For example, tapping on the back of the device gives off a distinctive and offputting rattle, which is not what we've come to expect from Apple over the years.
However, as noted, this doesn't mean it isn't a nice device. It's light, weighing just 132g, and its measurements of 124.4x59.2x8.97mm mean it sits comfortably in the hand, when used in either portrait or landscape mode.
Why did Apple make this device? At this price it doesn't really seem like an effective counter to the mid-tier Android devices dominating the market. Furthermore, while its specifications are below those of the iPhone 5S, it still comes across as a top-end device. But if you are going to buy it, you may as well spend £100 more and get the true flagship, the iPhone 5S.
We'll have an in-depth review after the weekend when we've had a chance to use the device properly, so check back then for our thoughts.
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