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Hands-On: Apple iPhone 5c

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Sep 20, 2013, 4:24 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Here's a quick look at the Apple iPhone 5c. The 5c has a polycarbonate shell rather than an aluminum skin. We share a few thoughts.

The Apple iPhone 5c is supposed to be the "lesser" of the two new iPhones. It doesn't have the premium feel that the iPhone 5s does, but it has a bit more personality thanks to lively colors and a feel all its own.

At first blush, it is easy to dismiss the 5c. "Plastic?" you might think to yourself. "Why buy a plastic iPhone when I can have a metal one." It's a fair question. Though a lot separates the 5s from the 5c internally, the price difference (only $100) is relatively minor.

The 5c is a new animal for Apple. It hasn't made a plastic iPhone since the 2009-era 3GS. The design has come a long way since then. The 5c feels incredibly small in your hand. It is thin, light, and comfortable. The polycarbonate shell is glossy an as smooth as it gets. Personally, I'd probably prefer a matte finish (at least for the white one), but the glossy finish isn't repulsive or anything. The edges and corners are rounded nicely and let the 5c sit deep in your palm. It's far more comfortable to hold than the 5s, which has squarer corners. The 5c is ever-so-slightly bigger than the 5s, but you wouldn't know it. It's hard to spot the size difference when they are held side-by-side. The 5c will slip easily into the tightest pockets.

 

5c

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

As with all iPhones, the 5c has a physical home button on the front below the screen. The button is concave and has excellent travel and feedback. There's a mute switch on the left side, along with two volume buttons. The switch has a great feel to it, but the volume buttons produce a very loud "clack" sound when pressed. The travel is good, though. The screen lock button is on the top and it also makes a loud sound when pressed. I'm a but surprised how loud these buttons are. The Lightning port (Apple's proprietary connector) is on the bottom. The stereo headphone jack is next to it. You can also see the speaker grill on the bottom.

The Retina Display looks very, very good. Of course, I wish it were bigger than 4 inches, but for what it is, it's still one of the nicest screens available. The LCD display is razor sharp and plenty bright to be used indoors and out.

The 5c's back cover cannot be removed. The battery cannot be replaced. It does not support microSD cards. The SIM card needs a tool to remove. Apple's hardware is always locked down firmly.

The 5c runs iOS 7, which we reviewed in depth here. In the time I spent playing with the 5c today, I'd say it runs just as quick as on the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. iOS is a quick operating system.

We're evaluating both the iPhone 5s and 5c and expect to publish full reviews in the days ahead.

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Subject Author Date
Quite sturdy Riot Jr. Sep 20, 2013, 7:48 PM
Holy cow a phone video. phooey73 Sep 20, 2013, 6:41 PM
 
 
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