Apple iPhone 5C review - Discontinued but a bit of a bargain

Now discontinued but a refurbished iPhone 5C for £170 is a great budget alternative to upgrading

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Page 1 of 3Apple iPhone 5C review - Discontinued but a bit of a bargain


Processor: Dual-core 1.3GHz Apple A6, Screen size: 4in, Screen resolution: 1,136x640, Rear camera: 8-megapixels, Storage: 8GB/16GB/32GB, Wireless data: 3G. 4G, Size: 124x59x8.97mm, Weight: 132g, Operating system: iOS 7

The iPhone 5C is something of a failed experiment for Apple. It was originally rumoured to be Apple’s assault on the budget handset dominance of Android. It’s higher-than-expected price soon put paid to that though, and though the plastic-shelled handset did drop in price to a more reasonable level, it was still expensive by mid-range Android standards, and hugely so compared to true budget models.

And now with the launch of the iPhone 6S the brightly-coloured 5C has been quietly shuffled off, with no immediate replacement in sight. Instead Apple has returned to an all-metal line-up with the iPhone 5S at its base as the wallet-friendly, or perhaps just slightly-less-expensive offering.

Of course you’ll still see iPhone 5C’s for sale from some retailers and on eBay, where you can buy refurbished models (with a 12-month warranty) from reputable retailers for around £170. So if you’re looking for a cheap iPhone (maybe to replace a broken one) then it could be quite tempting. So let’s take a look at what you’re getting for your money.

Plastic fantastic

It's important to note that the iPhone 5C is essentially, specs wise, an iPhone 5 in new clothing, making the handset three years old today. Of course the 5C looks different, with a plastic chassis. Before the phone launched and we got our hands on it, there were some questions as to whether plastic was the right choice. This being Apple, it's fair to say that it has managed to make plastic feel premium.

Apple iPhone 5C

A single moulded piece of polycarbonate attached to a reinforced cage means the iPhone 5C feels extremely tough and well made

For starters Apple has used a single piece of moulded polycarbonate. This means that the iPhone 5C looks incredibly well made with no gaps or joins in the case. Plastic can often feel a bit creaky, but Apple has attached the case to a steel frame inside, which means it feels exceptionally tough and durable. Finally, the company lacquered the outside, which will reduce scratching, although a case is still a good idea.

Moving to this design means that the iPhone 5C is slightly heavier than the iPhone 5, at 132g compared to 112g. It's fair to say that this minor weight difference isn't going to make any difference to anyone. Of course, moving to plastic, means that Apple can now work with a wider range of colours, with the iPhone 5C available in white, red, yellow, blue and green. No matter what your preference, there's a colour out there that will suit you.

Apple iPhone 5C Colours

There's a wide-enough range of colours that you'll definitely find an iPhone 5C that you like the look of

Apple also sells a range of cases in the same colours, with holes cut out so you can see through to the iPhone's original colour. This lets you mix and match your colours to get the effect you want, although we're not massive fans of the new case and prefer a shell or something that protects the screen. However, we like the way that Apple pre-sets each iPhone 5C so that its screen backdrop matches the colour of the case. Admittedly we've seen the same from Nokia and Windows Phone, but it's still a nice touch.

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