iPhone 5c Review: Looking Back At Apple's Plastic Fantastic iPhone

Reviews Richard Goodwin 12:51, 22 May 2015

Looking back at the iPhone 5c, is it still a viable handset in 2015 or are you better off with an iPhone 5s or iPhone 6?

Typical Price: 
It’s the cheapest iPhone you can buy with a great OS and sharp screen and decent camera
The 8GB of storage kills it for this iPhone. It’s 2015. No one can get by with only 8GB of storage.
Unless someone is giving you this phone for free, take a pass. Though it’s got decent hardware and a great OS, the one-size-fits-no-one 8GB of storage makes this phone pretty useless.

A lot of hoopla was made when Apple introduced the iPhone 5c in the fall of 2013. Over the next year some raved about it while others said its colourful plastic body was abhorrent. Matter of fact, many rumours suggested Apple was going to kill the device in 2014...but it stuck around, only with an 8GB storage option though. There’s no denying the handset is popular (several of my close friends own one) but how, with its lack of TouchID, does it fit into Apple’s 2014 lineup? 

iPhone 6c LEAKED By Apple –– Update On The Way!? 

A handset tipped to be the iPhone 6c has been accidentally leaked online by Apple. The handset in question looks A LOT like the iPhone 5c save for the inclusion of TouchID in the home button. The case for an update to 2013’s iPhone 5c is strong; Apple sold 24 million units, making the handset an out and out success compared to nearly every other handset on market –– can you imagine the HTC One M8 Mini selling in that volume!? 

One school of thought suggests the iPhone 5c will be terminated later this year to make way for the iPhone 6s, meaning the iPhone 5s (yep, the one with TouchID) will take its place as Apple’s “cheap” option. The iPhone 5c is quite old now, and looks to be going the way of the original blocky MacBooks. But is it still a good option for today’s consumer –– or are you better off with an iPhone 6 or iPhone 5s?

Lets take a look at the handset from a 2015 perspective. 

iPhone 5c Review: The Good

Look, the iPhone 5c isn’t a bad phone. I actually think there’s something charming about its coloured plastic design. It comes in green, blue, yellow, pink or white. Its display is small by today’s standards--just 4 inches, but it still is a Retina display with a resolution of 640×1136 pixels at 326ppi, which looks just as beautiful as ever. It also features a very decent (and comparable to the 5s) 8MP rear camera that can record video in 1080p and a 1.2MP front FaceTime camera that records video in 720p.

On the connectivity front you’ll find much the same standards as you find in 2015 model phones, including Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 (including full support for Apple’s AirPlay and AirDrop clients), and the usual 2G, 3G, 4G, GPS, and GLONASS connectivity standards. The battery is decent as well: a 1560 mAh cell that will give you 10 hours of talktime on 3G and 8 hours on 4G. Hardwired connectivity includes a 3.5mm headphone jack and the Lightning connector.

And after the 18 months since its original release, the software on the iPhone 5c--iOS 8--is better than ever. Though it’s not as snappy as on the latest iPhone 6, iOS 8 runs smoothly and with most of the features that it does on more recent iPhone models excluding, of course, anything TouchID-related. 

iPhone 5c Review: The Bad

As you can see there’s a lot of things that make the iPhone 5c still a good phone in 2015. But there are also, unfortunately, a few major drawbacks this phone has that make it a poor choice for anyone who isn’t the most basic--and I mean BASIC--smartphone user.

First of all--and most prominently--the iPhone 5c only comes in one storage size now: 8GB. That’s right: when you buy an iPhone 5c you simply need to decide on the colour, there are no other options you select. This is of course different than when the 5c originally came out and was available in three different sizes (8, 16, or 32GB). But since last fall Apple has cut the storage option back to 8GB only--no doubt to push people towards the more expensive 5s and 6 models. 

If all you need is a smartphone to make phone calls and check emails, the 8GB iPhone 5c will be fine. But not many people buy an iPhone just to do so little. They also take photos, download apps and games, and watch movies. With only 8GB of storage doing any of that won’t last for too long. I mean I can take 8GB of photos on one holiday trip. Some of the coolest iOS games can be 500-1GB in size. An HD movie? 3-4GB. You can see how the storage on the 5c can quickly be taken up. And that’s before you even consider that you actually don’t have a full 8GB of storage. iOS 8 takes up about 1.5GB by itself.

Another thing that makes this phone a poor choice to all but the most basic users is the A6 chip. The A6 was hot stuff for its time--but so was the Intel Celeron chip back in its day. Today the 32-bit A6 is showing its age. It struggles to play some of the latest graphically intensive iOS hit games. I’m not even sure the A6 is likely to support iOS 9, which should ship in the fall of this year. If Apple decides to make that OS 64-bit only, iPhone 5c owners will find themselves stuck on iOS 8 forever.

Which brings me to my last point: the iPhone 5c already has one foot in the grave. It lacks future-forward features like Touch ID, which every new iOS device has. As more and more apps take advantage of Touch ID, iPhone 5c users will be forever left out. It also obviously doesn’t support NFC or Apple Pay (but then again, only the iPhone 6 and above does). There’s no support for the latest Wi-Fi standard 802.11ac. And a Tru-Tone flash? Forget about it. With the 5c you get an LED flash.

iPhone 5c Review: Conclusion

Look, even with its lack of more advanced features (to be fair, most of which were introduced after the 5c was first unveiled), the iPhone 5c could still be a decent phone in 2015. COULD be. But Apple put the final nail in its coffin when it decided to cut the 5c’s storage options from 32 and 16GB down to just 8GB. That’s not enough in today’s day and age. The average user will fill up 8GB of storage within the first few weeks of using a smartphone. And if that happens, what’s the use of owning a smartphone if you don’t have the storage space available to use its advanced features?

My suggestion is if you’re thinking of getting the 5c, give it a miss and opt for the 5s, with its larger 32GB storage option. Or, if you do have your heart set on the colourful 5c, look for older 16 or 32GB models on Amazon or Ebay. 

The 8GB iPhone 5c costs £319 brand new from Apple. Click over onto Page 2 to read our original review of the iPhone 5c.


Length 124.4mm
Width 59.2mm
Thickness 9mm
Weight 132g
Screen Size 640 x 1136 pixels, 4.0 inches (~326 ppi pixel density)
Camera Resolution 8 MP, 3264x2448 pixels, autofocus, LED flash – 1/3.2'' sensor size, 1.4 µm pixel size, simultaneous HD video and image recording, touch focus, geo-tagging, face detection, HDR panorama, HDR photo
Operating System iOS 7
Processor A6 chipset + 1GB of RAM
High-speed Data DC-HSDPA, 42 Mbps; HSDPA, 21 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps, LTE, 100 Mbps; EV-DO Rev. A, up to 3.1 Mbps
Connectivity Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, dual-band, Wi-Fi hotspot
Built-in Memory 16GB, 32GB or 64GB
Battery Standby Up to 250 h (2G) / Up to 250 h (3G)

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