iPhone 5C full review
The plastic case is basically the only difference between the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C. The two phones are identical, sharing the same iSight camera, A6 processor, and Lightning connector. This has lead many to assume that the iPhone 5c is a repackaged iPhone 5. However, there are various important ways in which the phones are different and we will examine these reasons below.
Read more iPhone reviews
iPhone 5c vs iPhone 5: Design and dimensions
The most obvious difference between the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c is the design. One comes in an aluminum and glass case, the other is encased in plastic and comes in a choice of five different colours.
There is very little difference in dimensions, the iPhone 5c is a tiny bit bigger, but it's such a fraction that you probably won't notice it. The iPhone 5c also weighs more, 20g to be precise, at 132g compared to 112g. It's hardly going to break your back.
iPhone 5c vs iPhone 5: Camera
When it comes to the rear-facing camera, the two phones are identical, sharing the same iSight camera. The camera on the back of the iPhone 5c features the same 8 megapixel sensor, 3264x2448, backside illuminated, hybrid IR filter, five-element lens, and f/2.4 aperture as the iPhone 5 did.
You can see just how identical the cameras are by comparing this selection of shots taken with the two cameras.
This is by no means a bad camera, offering faster photo capture, better low-light performance and improved noise reduction compared to previous iPhone models. HDR captures are also faster when compared to older iPhones.
The video quality taken by the two iPhones is also identical.
However, there are a few differences when it comes to the FaceTime front camera. The FaceTime camera on the front of the iPhone 5c is improved – it is actually the same front facing camera that features on the iPhone 5S.
This new FaceTime camera is capable of clearer FaceTime video calls, according to Apple. We tested this and indeed found the iPhone 5c (left) image quality in lowlight to be far superior to that on the iPhone 5 (right), as you can see from these FaceTime screen grabs.
The iPhone 5s camera is superior to the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c camera.
iPhone 5c vs iPhone 5: Processor and specs
Both the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c have the same A6 processor chip and Lightning connector.
However, there are some ways in which the two phones aren't identical. There are a few differences on the inside. The iPhone 5c shares its internal WiFi and cellular hardware with the iPhone 5s rather than the iPhone 5 - probably because by sharing common components Apple can save money. This, coupled with the steal back providing extra antenna capacity seems, in our tests, to result in a better 3G signal.
Some will look to Geekbench results to judge which of the iPhones is best. Interestingly the iPhone 5 actually performed slightly better than the iPhone 5c.
iPhone 5 = 1302
iPhone 5c = 1180
iPhone 5s = 2485
iPhone 5c vs iPhone 5: iPhone 4G support
Speaking of 4g, for many the major difference and decider will be the fact that the iPhone 5c will support all the UK 4G networks, where the iPhone 5 cannot support the 4G networks of O2 and Vodafone. If you want to update to 4G at some point this year, but don't fancy forking out extra for a iPhone 5s, the iPhone 5c is still a great option.
iPhone 5c vs iPhone 5: Capacity
The iPhone 5 was available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions, while the iPhone 5c is only available in 16GB and 32GB versions, if you have a 64GB iPhone upgrading to a iPhone 5c with less capacity would probably be an unwise move.
iPhone 5c vs iPhone 5: Battery
Despite the fact that the phones are the same in many ways, battery life is better in the iPhone 5c.
Apple claims that the iPhone 5c offers 10 hours of web browsing on Wi-Fi and LTE networks, up to 8 hours on 3G networks, and up to 10 hours of video playback and up to 40 hours of audio playback. This is almost identical to Apple's claims regarding the iPhone 5 last year, with the exception that Apple now claims 10 hours over LTE where last year that claim was 8 hours.
In our tests (looping video) we found the iPhone 5c to offer 10 hours, 19 minutes of playback, compared to 9 hours, 37 minutes on the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5s was superior offering 11 hours and 13 minutes.
iPhone 5c vs iPhone 5: Price
If you are considering upgrading from the iPhone 5 to the iPhone 5c price is likely to be a factor. You may be pleased to learn that you'll be paying slightly less than you did last year if you bought the phone outright. At launch the entry level price of the iPhone 5 was £529. Starting at £469, the iPhone 5c is £60 less than the iPhone 5 was.
However, you could pay just £80 more and get yourself an iPhone 5s.
On contract prices are slightly more varied between the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, if you had an iPhone 5 on contract last year chances are your contract won't have finished yet.
Wondering why the iPhone 5c isn't a cheaper smartphone? Read: Why Apple didn't launch a low-cost iPhone 5C
Despite the few internal differences mentioned above, and the new plastic case, it would be difficult to argue that the iPhone 5c is a completely different phone to the iPhone 5. The big question is whether it really matters.
Whether it matters depends on your needs. If you want to be able to upgrade to 4G but your network isn't supported by the iPhone 5 then this would be a worthwhile upgrade. However, there are plenty of reasons why you might be better off upgrading from the iPhone 5 to the iPhone 5s – the fact that the 5s costs only £80 more, being one. Another reason not to upgrade would be that you have a 64GB iPhone 5, there is no equivalent in the iPhone 5c range. Our advice would be that if you have an iPhone 5 and want to upgrade choose the iPhone 5s. If you are due an upgrade and you like the look of the iPhone 5c though it's still a great phone to choose and the fact that there are a few improvements compared to the iPhone 5 is a bonus.