iPhone 5C review: Lovely colors, good-enough tech

iPhone 5C Review

The iPhone 5C is not for me. However, the iPhone 5C is perfect for my wife, the proud owner of a new yellow handset from Apple that costs $99 and has the exact same innards as my iPhone 5. Why is it so perfect for her, and why wouldn’t I want one? Find your answer in my review here.

First let’s talk about the news behind the iPhone 5C. It’s very easy to sum it up in one sentence: The iPhone 5C is an iPhone 5 with a plastic back in your choice of five colors. Besides having a slightly longer-lasting battery, it contains the same technology as the iPhone 5.

When I handed my wife her new iPhone 4S two years ago, her first impression was that she was holding a precious, unsettlingly fragile object, one that she would be required to handle with kid gloves. Her first instinct was to surround it with a protective case.

She liked her iPhone 4S, except for all its glass surfaces. She found the glass back of the iPhone 4S particularly inexplicable. “Why double the glass on an object you’re likely to drop?,” she asked. Over the past two years, she’s never been completely comfortable carrying around such a delicate object, even in a case. That’s why her eyes lit up when she first heard about the iPhone 5C, wrapping Apple’s excellent tech and ecosystem in pink, yellow, green, white or blue.

My wife doesn’t want or need the latest technology. When it comes to tech, she’s not like me, an early adopter who always has to have the newest gadgetry. So I got her the iPhone 5C, and she loves it. While it doesn’t make any sense to upgrade to an iPhone 5C from the iPhone 5, it’s a terrific upgrade for those who are using older phones, such as my wife’s iPhone 4S.

iphone5c-selection-hero-2013It’s terrific because its 8-megapixel camera is much better — one of the best cameras on any smartphone — and its taller 4-inch screen gives you an additional row of icons per screenful. Its steel-reinforced polycarbonate back is downright remarkable, not feeling to me like plastic at all — it’s smooth and solid like fine porcelain, benefiting as much from Apple’s materials expertise as its top-of-the-line model. It’s thinner and lighter than the iPhone 4S, albeit slightly thicker than the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S. Overall, it’s a significant improvement over her old phone, and the price is right.

This second-tier new phone marks new territory for Apple. The company usually relegates last year’s phone to back-seat status when it rolls out a new one. It sells the old model for $99 and barely mentions it again. However, for the iPhone 5C, Apple has set its enormous marketing machinery in motion, creating exhilarating ads that flaunt the new phones’ colors. As it does so well, Apple masterfully created a compelling atmosphere around this product. It’s a phone that’s more marketing concept than technology rollout.

Even so, it’s a worthy upgrade. For those who don’t care about the latest tech and have never even heard of “chamfered edges,” the iPhone 5C is a near-perfect handset with good-enough technology and extreme good looks. If you’re convinced an iPhone is for you, and you’re at the end of a two-year contract and don’t want to keep paying for a two-year-old phone, it’s worth every penny.

Images: Charlie White

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