IPhone 5C review

The iPhone 5C marked a new era in Apple’s mobile onslaught, as the Cupertino-based firm finally broke rank from premium design and price by offering up a device which is slightly more affordable. Slightly being the key word there.

Before you start getting excited about the potential of a “cheap iPhone”, be warned that the iPhone 5C is no mid-range Android rival. When it was first released, back in September last year, prices started at £469 ($549, AU$739) for the 16GB SIM-free handset.

The launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has precipitated a price drop and an unexpected storage limitation. If you want a new, SIM-free iPhone 5C now, then you’ll pay £319 ($450, AU$529) for the 8GB model. There’s no longer an option to get it with 16GB or 32GB.

If you fancy doubling your storage capacity to 32GB – remember the 5C is an Apple device so there’s no microSD slot in sight – you can add another £80 ($100, AU$130) to that base price.

So let’s bust one myth right from the off then – although one that Apple never promised in the first place. The iPhone 5C is not a cheap, budget device – it’s a slightly cheaper offering compared to the premium, metal cladiPhone 5S which launched alongside this polycarbonate-clad phone.

Thanks to price cuts the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, Nokia Lumia 925 and Sony Xperia Z are all around the same price, if not cheaper than the less feature packed iPhone 5C.

One way Apple has managed to keep the cost of the 5C down slightly is ditching the glass and aluminium body seen on every handset since theiPhone 4, and welcoming back the brazen use of polycarbonate last seen on the iPhone 3GS.

Now the plastic versus metal debate is one which has been raging for a few years, with Apple fans blasting the top Samsung products such as theGalaxy S4 for looking and feeling cheap – but is it time for those people to eat their hats?

Pick up the iPhone 5C and there’s no mistaking that this handset isn’t clad in the premium materials which have adorned the more recent models, but that’s not necessarily bad thing.

The polycarbonate exterior comes in a range of colourful options – green, yellow, pink, blue and white – and anyone who has owned an iPod will be well versed in these hues.

This is the first time we’ve seen the varied palette make it to the iPhone range however, prompting some mocking from Nokia who drew comparisons between the 5C and its fluorescent Lumia range – and to be fair there is a small similarity between it and the Lumia 625 front on.

The bright colours also make the iPhone 5C look a bit childish. My green review handset for example could be mistaken for a toy phone from a distance and it doesn’t exactly ooze the Apple quality I’m used to seeing when unboxing an iPhone.

However, look beyond that and the iPhone 5C does feel structurally sound in the hand, no doubt helped by the steel frame hidden under the polycarbonate exterior and I found I was far less concerned about it smashing

The steel frame also doubles as the 5C’s antenna, meaning there’s no risk of signal dropping if you fancy holding this iPhone in your left hand.

While the likes of the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5 are clad front and back in glass causing users to be wary at all times about the state of their smartphone, the iPhone 5C feels like it can be chucked into a bag without having to worry about its condition when it comes to pulling it back out.

It’s reassuring that the iPhone 5C feels like it is capable of taking a few knocks, because the slick, unibody plastic finish offers very little in the way of grip.

 

Apple does offer a range of equally colourful rubberised skins which you can slap onto your iPhone 5C to provide some much needed additional grip, but at £20 ($29, AU$39) a pop it’s yet more money leaving your wallet – plus the odd hole design of these cases won’t be to everyone’s taste.

Of course third party accessory manufacturers offer a multitude of cases, skins and other forms of protection for your iPhone 5C, so you can find cheaper alternatives out there.

At 124.4 x 59.2 x 8.97mm the iPhone 5C is slightly chunkier than the handset it’s replacing, but considering the iPhone 5 was wafer thin the 5C certainly isn’t overbearing in the hand and the added weight from a slightly larger battery means that it actually feels more substantial compared to the iPhone 5S.

The same minimalist attitude to buttons has been implemented on the iPhone 5C, with the famous home key the only navigational aid on the front of the device, while the power/lock resides at the top and the separated volume keys on the left.

Just above the volume keys is the small switch which is now synonymous with Apple’s iDevice range, allowing you to quickly toggle silent/volume mode.

All the keys are easy enough to reach when holding the iPhone 5C in one hand, but thanks to the elongated nature of the device since Apple bumped the screen size up from 3.5 inches to 4 you need to stretch your fingers that extra bit to reach the power/lock button.

I’d much prefer this key to be located on the right hand side of the iPhone 5C, as it would make it that bit easier to access and avoids any awkward shuffling of the phone in the hand – but of course that would see Apple copying Samsung in terms of placement, and nobody wants to see any more accusations of copying coming along.

There’s nothing else joining the power/lock key on top of the 5C after Apple relocated the headphone jack to the bottom with the iPhone 5 – a move which isn’t to everyone’s taste.

Joining the left aligned headphone jack on the base of the iPhone 5C is a centralised lightning port and a mono speaker to one side to help you blast your tunes at grannies on the bus or conduct a more civilised speakerphone conversation.

Now the right hand side hasn’t been left completely alone on the 5C, with Apple choosing this surface as the location for the SIM card tray – but unlike most smartphones that take microSIMs these days, iPhones now rock the tiny nanoSIM technology.

This means you’ll have to talk to your network about getting a nanoSIM for your shiny new iPhone 5C before you’ll be able to use it – that is unless you’re upgrading from an iPhone 5, but I’d suggest that’s pretty much a waste of money.

If you’re coming from a similarly priced Android handset you’ll probably think the iPhone 5C feels a little on the small size, with its 4-inch display more at home at the budget end of the rival OS’s line up.

While the screen size might not be anything special, the 1136 x 640 Retina display is present and correct on the iPhone 5C, meaning it has the same offering as both the iPhone 5 and 5S.

There are even more similarities with the iPhone 5, as you’ll find the same A6 processor, 8MP rear camera, 1.9 MP front camera, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 in the 5C.

The iPhone 5C is 4G enabled of course, but more supports even more bands meaning it’ll work even more networks around the world.

So what have we got so far then? Well, the iPhone 5C is a slightly overweight iPhone 5 with a plastic body, larger battery and a slightly lower price tag. If anything it looks to be a bit of a hard sell on paper – but with iOS 8.1 on board, there’s a litany of places where it might it might excel.

iPhone 6 review

Despite record sales, Apple was heading for a fall. Not this year, or the next. But the brand had been trading on the same phone for four years and something big was needed to keep it current.

So with that, the iPhone 6, and its bigger brother, theiPhone 6 Plus, were born to keep Apple at the sharp end of a market that was starting to lust after powerful, big screen smartphones with clever and premium design.

  • Buy your iPhone 6 today

The iPhone 6 certainly addresses a number of the problems Apple had developed, coming with a much larger screen (although not dramatically increasing the size of the phone) a boosted processor, better camera, improved battery and crucially: overhauled design.

This is the sixth iPhone I’ve reviewed now, and there’s a real sense that this one is really rather different.

I wrote last year that Apple was becoming more aware that the time when it could define what consumers would buy in the smartphone is ending – and with the 4.7-inch screen, it’s clearly had to admit defeat in the smaller screen market.

There will be some that will miss that screen size, maintaining that they don’twant a bigger display on their phone – but nearly all of those people won’t have spent any appreciable time with a larger device, and I believe that a good portion of you thinking you need a smaller phone will quickly come to appreciate the power a bigger handset brings without hurting quality.

But while the iPhone 6 has answered a lot of the problems I’ve had with previous iterations of Apple’s handsets, there are still some issues that still swirled when I handled the phone for the first time.

Why has Apple decided to not join the masses with a really high-res screen? Why is the iPhone still the most expensive on the market? Has it done enough to improve the quite dire battery life of previous models, especially at a time when many high-end Android phones are easily chugging through a day’s hard use without thirsting for a charger’s caress?

Let’s take a quick look at the price – and it’s not pretty.

In the UK, you’re looking at £539 for the 16GB version, £619 for the 64GB option and £699 for the 128GB model. On a decent contract these start at around £45 per month, with roughly £100 for the phone up front, although you can shop around and get it for slightly less if you stray from the main networks.

That’s a lot more than the competition, with most high-end contracts topping out at £38 for the main rivals, with less up front too.

In the US, the Apple iPhone 6 16GB is $199 on contract, 64GB comes in at $299 and the 128GB at $399. If you’re planning to go off book, then it’s 16GB at $649, 64GB available for $749 and a whopping $849 for the 128GB model.

In Australia, the iPhone 6 outright pricing starts at AU$869 for 16GB, then jumps to $999 for 64GB and $1,129 for the 128GB version. If you prefer to pay off your phone over time, Optus is offering the 16GB for $0 on a $100 monthly contract over 24 months, Telstra has the same model for $0 on a $95 monthly plan and Vodafone will give you the 16GB iPhone 6 if you sign up for 24 months on an $80 a month plan.

The iPhone 6 Plus, meanwhile, costs AU$999 for 16GB, AU$1,129 for 64GB and AU$1,249 for 128GB. On contract to get a 16GB model for $0, you’ll need to spend $95 a month with Telstra, or $100 a month with Vodafone, both on a 24 month contract.

Design

Let’s take a look at the first thing most people will wonder about before picking up the iPhone: how will it actually feel in the hand?

This is a big departure for Apple, marking a time when it’s admitted that the industrial, sharp design of the last four iPhone models is a little outdated and needs to up the ergonomics to really compete.

Well, with the Apple iPhone 6 we’re looking at one of the thinnest and sleekest handsets in the market. It’s got a strong combination of metal back (which feels exceptionally premium, borrowing bucketloads of design language from the iPad Air) and the way the screen curves into the chassis gives it a slight lozenge feel.

The iPhone 6 looks the business, and at 6.9mm thin it’s very nice to hold. I do still feel that phones that push harder on ergonomics are a better choice though – the HTC One M8 bows out at the back and fits in the palm a little better – but that’s quibbling. This iPhone just feels really well made.

Apple has always favoured a flatter phone than the rest of the market though, and placed on a desk it looks great. It does feel great in the hand too, but as said others impress more if I’m being hyper-critical.

There’s also the issue of the large plastic strips that flow through the top and bottom of the device. Given metal is a nightmare material to try and get radio signal to penetrate, these are clearly there to offset that.

While the plastic does seem to give good performance for signal for the most part, it’s nothing amazing, and to my eyes they’re a little unsightly and ruin the sleek back of the iPhone 6, and their presence seem at odds with Apple’s design ethos.

The other big design change is to the power button, which has now been moved to the right-hand side of the phone. This makes a lot of sense, and given the phone is now a larger device at 138.1 x 67 x 6.9 mm hitting the top of the handset is a much harder task, so moving the button is the right thing to do.

iPhone 6 review

Bigger, better, sleeker and faster

By

TechRadar’s rating

Average user rating

TechRadar’s verdict

“Apple has leapt forward with the iPhone 6 – one of the best phones it’s ever created.”

For
  • Great design
  • Better battery
  • Improved keyboard
Against
  • Still pricey
  • Screen too low-res

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PAGE 1 OF 11Introduction and design
Ratings in depth

iPhone 6 review
iPhone 6 review
iPhone 6 review
iPhone 6 review
iPhone 6 review

Despite record sales, Apple was heading for a fall. Not this year, or the next. But the brand had been trading on the same phone for four years and something big was needed to keep it current.

So with that, the iPhone 6, and its bigger brother, theiPhone 6 Plus, were born to keep Apple at the sharp end of a market that was starting to lust after powerful, big screen smartphones with clever and premium design.

The iPhone 6 certainly addresses a number of the problems Apple had developed, coming with a much larger screen (although not dramatically increasing the size of the phone) a boosted processor, better camera, improved battery and crucially: overhauled design.

This is the sixth iPhone I’ve reviewed now, and there’s a real sense that this one is really rather different.

I wrote last year that Apple was becoming more aware that the time when it could define what consumers would buy in the smartphone is ending – and with the 4.7-inch screen, it’s clearly had to admit defeat in the smaller screen market.

There will be some that will miss that screen size, maintaining that they don’twant a bigger display on their phone – but nearly all of those people won’t have spent any appreciable time with a larger device, and I believe that a good portion of you thinking you need a smaller phone will quickly come to appreciate the power a bigger handset brings without hurting quality.

iPhone 6 review

The phone fits very well in the hand

But while the iPhone 6 has answered a lot of the problems I’ve had with previous iterations of Apple’s handsets, there are still some issues that still swirled when I handled the phone for the first time.

Why has Apple decided to not join the masses with a really high-res screen? Why is the iPhone still the most expensive on the market? Has it done enough to improve the quite dire battery life of previous models, especially at a time when many high-end Android phones are easily chugging through a day’s hard use without thirsting for a charger’s caress?

Let’s take a quick look at the price – and it’s not pretty.

In the UK, you’re looking at £539 for the 16GB version, £619 for the 64GB option and £699 for the 128GB model. On a decent contract these start at around £45 per month, with roughly £100 for the phone up front, although you can shop around and get it for slightly less if you stray from the main networks.

That’s a lot more than the competition, with most high-end contracts topping out at £38 for the main rivals, with less up front too.

In the US, the Apple iPhone 6 16GB is $199 on contract, 64GB comes in at $299 and the 128GB at $399. If you’re planning to go off book, then it’s 16GB at $649, 64GB available for $749 and a whopping $849 for the 128GB model.

iPhone 6 review

In Australia, the iPhone 6 outright pricing starts at AU$869 for 16GB, then jumps to $999 for 64GB and $1,129 for the 128GB version. If you prefer to pay off your phone over time, Optus is offering the 16GB for $0 on a $100 monthly contract over 24 months, Telstra has the same model for $0 on a $95 monthly plan and Vodafone will give you the 16GB iPhone 6 if you sign up for 24 months on an $80 a month plan.

The iPhone 6 Plus, meanwhile, costs AU$999 for 16GB, AU$1,129 for 64GB and AU$1,249 for 128GB. On contract to get a 16GB model for $0, you’ll need to spend $95 a month with Telstra, or $100 a month with Vodafone, both on a 24 month contract.

Design

Let’s take a look at the first thing most people will wonder about before picking up the iPhone: how will it actually feel in the hand?

This is a big departure for Apple, marking a time when it’s admitted that the industrial, sharp design of the last four iPhone models is a little outdated and needs to up the ergonomics to really compete.

iPhone 6 review

Well, with the Apple iPhone 6 we’re looking at one of the thinnest and sleekest handsets in the market. It’s got a strong combination of metal back (which feels exceptionally premium, borrowing bucketloads of design language from the iPad Air) and the way the screen curves into the chassis gives it a slight lozenge feel.

iPhone 6 review

One of the thinnest phones in the world

The iPhone 6 looks the business, and at 6.9mm thin it’s very nice to hold. I do still feel that phones that push harder on ergonomics are a better choice though – the HTC One M8 bows out at the back and fits in the palm a little better – but that’s quibbling. This iPhone just feels really well made.

Apple has always favoured a flatter phone than the rest of the market though, and placed on a desk it looks great. It does feel great in the hand too, but as said others impress more if I’m being hyper-critical.

There’s also the issue of the large plastic strips that flow through the top and bottom of the device. Given metal is a nightmare material to try and get radio signal to penetrate, these are clearly there to offset that.

iPhone 6 review

The plastic strips detract and are not flush with the chassis

While the plastic does seem to give good performance for signal for the most part, it’s nothing amazing, and to my eyes they’re a little unsightly and ruin the sleek back of the iPhone 6, and their presence seem at odds with Apple’s design ethos.

The other big design change is to the power button, which has now been moved to the right-hand side of the phone. This makes a lot of sense, and given the phone is now a larger device at 138.1 x 67 x 6.9 mm hitting the top of the handset is a much harder task, so moving the button is the right thing to do.

Like the rest of the exterior buttons, the power key is raised and easy to hit in both left and right hand modes. It’s metallic and crucially doesn’t have the same rattle that I criticised on the iPhone 5S.

However, that doesn’t mean the metallic keys don’t have a little wiggle to them. Running your hand up and down the sides idly will result in you noticing a very slight looseness to the power and volume buttons… I’m in danger of being too critical here, but for the price it’s not the sort of thing I expect to see.

The other important design change here is the camera now protrudes slightly on the rear of the phone. It’s good to see that happening, as it shows that Apple isn’t willing to compromise on camera quality in order to just whack in a thinner phone.

The protrusion is a little worrying in that laying the Apple iPhone 6 down flat on a table could see scratches appearing, but the sapphire glass that covers the lens should see that’s pretty safe.

The rest of the iPhone 6 is very similar to the iPhone 5S, with the speakers at the bottom flanking the Lightning port. Well, I say speakers: it’s just the one speaker, but thanks to the slightly elongated bottom of the phone you won’t cover it when holding the phone in landscape.

This was irritating when trying to game or watch a movie without headphones on older iPhones – but this upgrade, combined with the lightness of the iPhone 6, mean you won’t have a similar problem for the most part as the hands sit lower and free of the speaker generally.

Sadly the headphone port still resides at the bottom of the iPhone 6, meaning you’ll still probably get your phone out of the pocket the wrong way around when listening to music.

Let me make one thing very clear though: the Apple iPhone 6 is another iconic handset in terms of design for Apple. It’s not the best looking on the market (I’m still giving that title to the HTC One M8) but it’s definitely right up there, and for the price I’d expect nothing less.

You can pick up the iPhone 6 in Space Gray (the colour I’ve had on test here), or the more standard silver or gold. Whichever one you want is up to you, but there had better not be a shortage of the champagne gold colour again this year.

That made me sad to see so many clamouring for a colour just because it was hard to get hold of.