iPhone 5C $550
22nd Apr 2014 | 15:06
It's a cheaper iPhone, not a cheap iPhone
We're currently updating our iPhone 5C model to iOS 7.1 to track the changes it brings to speed and performance - check back in a few days to see the updated findings.
The iPhone 5C marks a new era in Apple's mobile onslaught, as the Cupertino-based firm finally breaks 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, because with prices starting a £469 ($549, AU$739) for the a 16GB SIM-free handset you're still talking quite a lot of money.
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 clad iPhone 5S which launched alongside this polycarbonate-clad phone.
One way Apple has managed to keep the cost of the 5C down slightly is ditching the glass and aluminium body we've seen on every handset since the iPhone 4, and welcoming back the brazen use of polycarbonate we last saw 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 the Galaxy 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. Our green review handset for example could be mistaken for a toy phone from a distance and it doesn't exactly ooze the Apple quality we're 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 we found we were 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 us 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 £25 ($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 will be falling over themselves to offer a multitude of cases, skins and other forms of protection for your iPhone 5C, so you'll be able to 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.
iPhone 5C unboxing, in association with O2 Guru
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.
We'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 we'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 - Apple claims the 5C and the 5S support the widest range of 4G bands out of any smartphone currently on the market.
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 7 on board, there's a litany of places where it might it might excel.
As well as sporting an all new form factor the iPhone 5C also sees the arrival of Apple's latest edition of it mobile platform, dubbed iOS 7.
Announced back in June 2013 at WWDC, iOS 7 actually made its way onto the likes of the iPhone 5 and 4S a couple of days before the 5C went on sale, but along with the iPhone 5S they are the first handsets to actually ship with the new operating system.
iOS 7 is arguably the biggest overhaul Apple has given its mobile software since its inception in 2007, and in this post-Jobs era the design was left up to Jony Ive.
If anything iOS 7 suits the colourfully clad iPhone 5C more than the iPhone 5S which sports three rather muted shades of grey, more grey and gold - and when you fire up you're new 5C you'll note Apple has already set up a colour-matched background to tie the whole package together.
Of course we've already seen this colour trickery on Windows Phone devices where the live tiles of the homescreen are set to match the colour of the handset - and it's a nice touch which makes the hardware and software feel more connected.
Starting at the lockscreen and you'll immediately realise the iPhone 5C is running a new version of iOS, with the famous slide-to-unlocked bar replaced with a simple text prompt.
It's a far more understated approach and if you have a pin set up - there's no Touch ID fingerprint scan here - then the swipe will take you to a numeric keypad which demands your secret combination before allowing you access to the handset.
There's also a camera app quick launch option on the lock screen in the bottom right corner. Just place your finger on the camera icon and drag up to launch yourself straight into the redesigned application.
If you're coming from an Android handset you may be disappointed to find Apple hasn't implemented more quick launches on the lockscreen - you'll have to go through the unlock routine to access anything else.
Once you are past that stage you're taken to the homescreen which is still just the first page of your app list, with the same side scrolling motion required to flip through the pages.
Your standard options of dragging and dropping apps onto one another to create folders and the pull down notification bar persists, although with some slight updates.
The notification bar has been tweaked by Apple and now includes three tabs in the pull down panel; today, all and missed.
By default you're shown the "Today" tab, which displays the weather, reminders, any calendar entries for the day and stock information.
Scrolling down a bit more and there's also a bar which gives you a quick overview of what exciting events or meetings you have planned for the next day.
Tap "All" and you'll be able to view all your notifications from missed calls, text messages and emails to social media and app alerts - skipping across to "Missed" will just show you things such as missed calls or Facebook conversations you need to catch up on.
You can adjust what is displayed in the notification bar by diving into settings, so if you couldn't care less about stocks, or are getting irritated about how popular you are on Twitter you can turn off individual settings.
Something which is completely new on iOS 7 is the Control Center, accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen on the iPhone 5C.
This is a welcome addition to iOS as Control Center provides you with quick settings for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, airplane mode, do not disturb and rotation.
There's also a screen brightness bar, music controls, Air Drop shortcuts and quick launch icons for the torch (using the LED on the rear of the iPhone 5C), timer, calculator and camera apps.
You can access the Control Center while in any menu or application, making it a really useful feature to have if you quickly want to toggle something as you don't have to leave the page you're viewing.
Both the Notification Bar and Control Center can be accessed from the lock screen, although if you fear this will give too much control to outside users you can disable both - forcing a pin to be entered before being able to get to them.
We found iOS 6 ran seamlessly on the iPhone 5, which had the same processor as the iPhone 5C and iOS 7 is just as smooth here. Upgrade an iPhone 5 to iOS 7 and the on screen experience between the two will be almost impossible to tell apart.
The iPhone 5C may be seen as a cheaper version of the iPhone franchise, but Apple hasn't skimped on the internal grunt, giving you the same, high quality user experience you've come to expect from the firm.
Multi-tasking has been given an overhaul with iOS 7, and gone is the bar which appeared at the bottom of the display when you double tap the home button.
The double tap action now sees the screen you're viewing minimised to a thumbnail in the centre of the screen, and a horizontal list to the right of it made up of small panels of all the other apps running in the background.
The layout reminds us of the multitasking menu on HTC's Sense UI, and you can scrolling through the various applications, swiping up over thumbnails to close certain applications.
We're not overly keen on the new design as the interface does break things up when flicking between apps, where on the iPad you've got the great five finger swipe to move between open apps – could this have not been repeated on the iPhone?
Apple has continued to shy away from the calls of some for the introduction of widgets into the iOS ecosystem, and while a couple of app icons display live information - with the clock and calendar app sporting relevant data - the majority are static images.
The weather app suggests it's always sunny with a chance of cloud, while the compass icon things we're always facing North North West.
It would have been nice to see Apple make a few more of these icons smarter, as we're pretty sure it's up to the job and going by the slickness of the rest of the interface the processor could probably cope with it too.
We found that the 4-inch screen was always responsive to our various pokes and prods and the 1136 x 640 Retina display provides clean and crisp visuals with a 326ppi pixel density.
That does mean the screen on the iPhone 5C, on paper at least, doesn't match the similarly priced, top Android and Windows Phone devices.
It's not really an issue though as Apple's Retina technology still provides an excellent display which is more than good enough on the smaller 4-inch screen size.
The viewing angles are still good on the iPhone 5C and the display sits just under the glass, making it look like it's actually printed on the glass instead of residing beneath it.
Hold the iPhone 5C next to a smartphone sporting a full HD display though and you will notice it doesn't quite hit the same heights in terms of clarity, but in isolation you won't be disappointed.
Opinion on the new colour scheme for iOS 7 is still spilt, but the brighter, fresher look certainly makes it look more enticing on screen, catching your eye and actually pulling you into the operating system - where as iOS 6 had become rather mundane.
What we do find frustrating in iOS 7 and its previous iterations is the dependence it has on the settings menu, with various app controls all housed here instead of within the apps themselves.
It's annoying if you're in the Facebook app for example and want to adjust the notification settings, you have to exit the app and navigate to the setting menu instead.
iOS 7 is a great improvement on the previous version on Apple's interface and coupled with the colourful iPhone 5C it makes for a pleasing package.
It runs smoothly on the 5C and although some may take issue with the iOS 7 colour scheme, it's still easy to use with the addition of features such as the Control Center provide a huge benefit to the end user.
Contacts, calling and Facetime
Contact management on iOS has always been one of its weaker areas and while iOS 7 has improved things slightly, you still don't get the best offering on the iPhone 5C.
The contacts app itself is almost identical to those in previous iterations of iOS, although there's a iOS 7 gloss splashed over the top, which means you're provided with a simple, inoffensive list of names with a letter slider on the right allowing you to quickly jump to a section.
So far so good then, a fuss free interface which makes getting to the person you want quick and easy - even if it is visually bland.
We've become spoilt when it comes to social integration on Android, Windows Phone and even BlackBerry 10 handsets these days, but Apple still appears to lag behind.
It's easy to pull in contracts from your email accounts and everyone we had stored on Google's servers popped up alongside our iCloud buddies in the contact list without issue.
The problems started when we came to merging our Facebook and Twitter pals into the mix. You'd think with both social networks now baked into the iOS 7 framework - just login to each account in the settings menu - things would be streamlined and contacts would appear instantly.
Sadly this hope was soon dashed. Head over to the settings menu and sign to your social accounts, tap the "update all contacts" button and the iPhone 5C takes a few seconds to load all your pals.
All seems well, so we bounded over to the Contacts app to find out how the iPhone 5C had got on - our hopes were high. The contact list still looked as bland as anything - no profile pictures are displayed next to names, so no change here.
Tapping on our first contact and all seemed well - their Facebook profile picture appeared next to their name at the top of the contact card and there was a link further down which jumps you straight to their profile in the Facebook app.
However as we continued down the list of friends we realised the iPhone 5C had only matched up a handful of our contacts with their social accounts.
Hop into the "edit contact" screen by clicking edit in the top right corner and scroll to the bottom you'll notice there's a "linked contacts" option - however you only get to pick from the contacts already displayed in your list.
The iPhone 5C doesn't pull everyone else you're friends with through from Facebook or Twitter, so its a lost cause if you want to match everyone up. It's a highly irritating system and we wish Apple would just sort it out.
Apart from a profile picture, link to that person's social profile and perhaps such additional information gleaned from the social site such as address, the integration with the likes of Facebook and Twitter is minimal for the contacts the iPhone 5C does manage to match up.
There's no option to pull through various photo galleries, nor is there a stream of each person's recent social updates - stuff we've become accustomed to in other operating systems.
At least adding a new contact is easy enough, just hit the plus sign in the top corner when viewing your main contact list and you'll be greeted by a familiar looking form where you can fill in all manner of details on your new found friend.
Thankfully things improve when we move over to actually calling people on the iPhone 5C, and let's face that's what matters as this is a phone.
As with the iPhone 5, the 5C sports a triple microphone setup which blocks out noise around you to focus your dulcet tones down the handset and into the lug holes of the person on the other end of the line.
So the 5C has decent audio quality when it comes to calls, but that means nothing if it can't hold on to signal. Thankfully the antenna gremlins which plagued the iPhone 4 have long gone and the large steel frame which acts as the mast for the 5C is hidden under the plastic body - meaning they'll be no unfortunate death grip here.
We found the iPhone 5C managed to cling to signal even in areas where networks are traditionally not as strong, and we didn't experience any issues with dropped calls during our review period.
If you fancy making a call we'd recommend jumping into the contacts app and find the person you wish to speak to, tapping their name and then the relevant number you wish to dial.
Why don't we recommend the phone app? Well the dialpad - which is the screen you're taken to by default when opening the app - doesn't support smart dial, so start typing a number and the 5C won't offer up any contact suggestions.
There are links to "recent" and "favourites" from within the phone application, allowing you to quickly call someone back or get to someone you contact frequently - but it all means extra key presses, and we're busy people.
In short the iPhone 5C offers pretty much a carbon copy of the calling experience you get on the iPhone 5, albeit with a shiny new iOS 7 overlay.
The added benefit of picking yourself up an iPhone is the fact you get access to Apple's video calling service FaceTime - allowing you to make video calls to other iDevice users over Wi-Fi and via your 3G or 4G network.
The front facing, 1.2MP camera on the iPhone 5C is snapper in question when it comes to FaceTime and it's ability to record in 720p means quality tends to be very good - as long as your signal is strong enough.
You can also switch from the front to the rear facing camera, just in case you want to share your view with the person on the other end of the call, which is a nice touch.
If you fancy making a FaceTime call over your cellular network ensure your data plan can cope with transmitting video calls, otherwise you may be in for a nasty shock when your bill turns up at the end of the month.
Make a FaceTime call over Wi-Fi however and it won't cost you a penny. While this may not be anything new, with the likes of Skype having offered similar services for a longer period of time, there's no denying Apple's implementation is slick and effective.
As we've mentioned video is generally very good, and so too is audio - although if you're in especially noisy areas we suggest popping in the bundled earpods you get in the iPhone 5C box to cut down on background shenanigans.
The iPhone 5C is no stranger when it comes to messaging, inheriting all the functionality from its predecessor to offer you a complete catalogue of options.
Benefiting from the increase in size the iPhone 5 brought about, the iPhone 5C allows you to see more on screen - although it's dwarfed by the wide range of Android and Windows Phone devices which dominate this area of the market.
Text messaging is still very straight forward and apart from the iOS 7 gloss which has been splashed over the top the system is pretty much unchanged on the iPhone 5C.
Conversations with your buddies still appear in bubbles, but click to view a stream with one of your contacts and you'll notice the three buttons which did appear at the top of the screen (Call, FaceTime and Contact) are no longer present.
Instead you get a Contact link in the top right corner which when tapped drops down a little bar with quick links to call or FaceTime that person, or view their contact card.
It's a much cleaner implementation and means more of the screen is used for your messages instead of page furniture.
You can quickly turn your SMS into a MMS by tapping the camera icon next to the text input bar, allowing you to snap a photo or record a (very short) video then and there or select one you already have in your gallery. Be aware that your free text allowance may not cover MMS messages though, so you may be charged to send them.
The messaging app also doubles as a platform for iMessage - Apple's own free-to-send (as long as you're within your data allowance or on Wi-Fi) instant messaging service. Of course for the service to work your friends also need to own an iDevice, be it another iPhone, iPad, Mac or iPod.
The iPhone 5C flips seamlessly between SMS and iMessage depending on connection and the person you're speaking to - but it's great if you're trying to contact people around the world and don't want to pay through the roof to do so.
Rival apps such as WhatsApp and Skype also offer similar services while also being available on multiple platforms, so they will be better options if you want to contact your Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry buddies.
We're fond of the stock email application on the iPhone 5C and it's an accomplished offering with an intuitive design and fresh look making flicking through emails pretty effortless.
You can add multiple addresses to the mail application, making it your one stop shop for all your electronic mailing needs and there's a unified inbox allowing you to see all your new messages in one place without have to dip in and out of various accounts.
Of course you can always select a particular inbox to view if you're really that popular - or get confused easily - so don't fear.
It's nice to see a mobile email client playing nicely with HTML emails, displaying them fully so you can get a nice overview of what's going on and formatting the text slightly so it fits the width of the iPhone 5C screen.
Although the default width Apple has set may be a bit on the small for some users out there, and if you zoom in further there's no text reflow in action, meaning you'll be scrolling sideways as well as down.
You can dive into the main settings menu on the iPhone 5C and increase text size across the board on the phone if it's an issue, but it's a bit of a hassle.
Sadly the cute "goo" animation we enjoyed so much on the iPhone 5 when you pulled down to refresh your email list has been replaced by a simple spinning flow - and while functional it certainly doesn't provide us with the childish enjoyment we experienced in iOS 6.
With iOS 7 on board the iPhone 5C it means Twitter and Facebook come baked into the handset - head over to the settings menu and tap the relevant social network to sign in to your account.
Signing into these social networks in the back end of the iPhone 5C allows you to quickly share content to both without having to jump into the dedicated applications - which aren't installed by default.
Say you want to post a photo to Facebook, just head on over to the Photos app, select the image you want, tap the share button and choose the FB icon.
Instead of taking you out of the application and into Facebook's own offering, you instead get a little pop up box allowing you to tap in your message, select an album to post the photo to, attach the location it was snapped (which are both optional) and the audience you wish to view it.
A similar pop up box appears is you select Twitter, but obviously with less options and a counter for 140 characters.
Pull down the notification bar though and the "Tap to Tweet" and "Tap to Post" buttons are not longer sitting proudly at the top of the screen - so you'll have to fire up the dedicated apps (once you've downloaded and installed them) to update the world on what you had for breakfast.
We bemoaned the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 for Apple's poor implementation of the baked in social features and sadly with the 5C and iOS 7 things haven't got much better. We're sure there's some cool stuff Apple could do with this functionality, but it's obviously yet to realise its potential.
The iPhone 5C sports a new keyboard thanks to iOS 7, although most of the changes are purely cosmetic with the dark grey colour scheme replaced with a cleaner white to match the rest of the redesigned operating system.
All the keys are still in the same place and seeing as the iPhone 5C has the same 4-inch display as the iPhone 5 the keyboard hasn't grown in height, and more crucially in width.
Now Apple's keyboards aren't the worst around in the mobile world, but in recent times they have been bettered by the likes of HTC and Samsung as well as third party vendors such as SwiftKey.
The 4-inch form factor is beginning to feel a little cramped, although there are some who still yearn for a phone which isn't the size of their face, but the size means travel and spacing between keys suffers.
We found we could type relatively quickly on the iPhone 5C, but there were a number of times when our clumsy thumbs missed the intended key and bashed the one next to us.
Most of the time the spell check and word prediction engine on the iPhone 5C managed to rectify our mistakes without the need for us to hammer the backspace key - but there were times it couldn't help or offered up the wrong suggestion.
If you don't get on with Apple's keyboard then it's tough luck, as the Cupertino-based firm doesn't allow third party offerings.
There is something rather odd we noticed with the new iOS 7 keyboard however - and the issue occurred on both the iPhone 5C and 5S. It only appears in the apps pre-installed on the handset, and Apple's other own-brand applications.
Fire up any third party app - Facebook and Twitter included, and you're greeted with the old iOS 6 keyboard. While it's almost identical in function, the difference in design does jar with the rest of the handset.
However, this is something that looks like it will be solved when apps are updated to iOS 7 compatibility, which should happen sooner rather than later, meaning many users might not even notice the problem at all.
No surprises in the internet department: the iPhone 5C is an Apple device so you can be guaranteed there's no sign of Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer pre-installed. It's Safari all the way.
Google has made its Chrome browser available in the App Store, but don't give up on Apple's offering straight away as it's really rather nifty.
A boon for the iPhone 5C (and iPhone 5S) is the fact both handsets support the widest range of 4G bands out of any smartphones on the market, meaning you'll more than likely be able to utilise the superfast speeds if they're available in your area.
Of course if 4G hasn't reached you yet then there's always trusty 3G support, plus the standard Wi-Fi connectivity ensuring you'll be able to get online pretty much anywhere.
As with the rest of the iPhone 5C, Safari has been given a spruce up with the introduction of iOS 7 - however the compass icon still persists and it's one that frustrates us.
You have a compass app Apple, with a compass on the icon - why try and confuse users with a similar icon for your web browser?
What you will notice when you fire up a website on Safari is that it's fast, really fast. We were impressed with the load speeds on the iPhone 5 and we're happy to report these have made the leap into the plastic 5C.
Loading up the desktop version of TechRadar over Wi-Fi took just 3 seconds, on 3G the iPhone 5C managed it in just under 4 seconds and on Vodafone's 4G network we saw a speedy sub 3 seconds.
This makes surfing the web really enjoyable, not to mention efficient, and the Retina display ensures everything looks fab, from crisp text to vibrant images.
They only thing you'll be cursing is the size of the display, as a larger screen would fully complement the speed at which sites load.
Luckily a double tap on text will see the iPhone 5C zoom in to the width of the text making it slightly easier to read, but even though characters are sharp those with poorer eyesight will need to zoom in further.
If you do find yourself zooming in more to read you'll be disappointed to find that there's no text reflow in play, so as with emails, you'll be feverishly going sideways as well as down.
We like that Apple has also included the search bar in with the URL entry area, as it means that more screen real estate can be used for browsing, rather than all being crushed at the top. There's no need for it to be any other way, and it makes things more integrated too.
You get icons on the home landing page which you can set as your most-used apps, and this is a nifty feature that solves the fact that Apple's bookmarking system can be a little convoluted, The icons at the bottom of the screen can be a little harder to work out on the first viewing, but do work nicely nonetheless, with the tabs page allowing you to simply swipe away the open web pages you don't want.
Airdrop is integrated here too, if you want to share web pages with people around you easily, as well as the ability to share it to Twitter, Facebook or other installed apps. Of course you can always lock it in an app like Pocket, but with the ability to add these things to the reading list for easy access later on, that's not really as much of a necessary option.
The reading mode has also been given a tweak that means that it no longer takes up as much of the URL bar, with a simple 'lines' icon signifying when you can enter the cleaner, more stripped down version of the page. This is most useful when using the Twitter functionality, which we really like.
If you're signed into Twitter on your iPhone, then it can parse through your feeds and present you with a list of Tweets with embedded links, which you can scroll through at your leisure, with the bottom of each web page passing on to the next one Tweeted. It's a nice way to browse through what your friends are sharing, and will perhaps encourage reading on a wider range of subjects.
Tabbed browsing features on the iPhone 5C and it's a visually appealing area of Safari, with open tabs stacked like a vertical row of dominos displaying the site each one is on, allowing you to thumb through with a pleasing fluidity.
We're not sure how many tabs you can have opened at once, but we managed to get 20 up before getting bored of hitting the tiles icon in the bottom right corner and then the plus key.
Hit the menu key in the centre of the bottom tool bar and you'll be greeted with a number of options, including the ability to share a website via social networks and other communication formats as well bookmarking, printing or making the web page into an app icon so you have a shortcut to it on the homescreen.
To view your bookmarks, favourites and browsing history select the open book icon. You'll be shown the bookmarks tab by default where you'll also be able to access your history and favourites - it's all very straightforward.
If you frequent Flash-based websites then you'll want to steer clear of the iPhone 5C, as Apple has never supported the dying format, which has since been ditched by Android and Windows Phone as well.
Apple likes to bang the HTML5 drum - thought to be the next big thing on the web - and the iPhone 5C plays nicely with anything based on this format, so it should be pretty future proof.
With the iPhone 5C being pretty much a carbon copy of the iPhone 5 you won't be surprised to learn that it sports the same 8MP iSight camera on its rear, complete with single LED flash.
The front facing snapper has been given a bit of an upgrade though, with a 1.2MP offering capable of HD (720p) recording - but it's the one on the back which you'll be using most of the time.
You can access the camera application from the lockscreen, just place your finger on the camera icon and slide your finger up, plus you can easily access it from pretty much anywhere on the iPhone 5C by pulling up the Control Center and hitting the correct icon.
Fire it up and you'll be greeted with a totally redesigned camera interface thanks to iOS 7, with a larger shutter at the bottom of the screen flanked by a link to your gallery and the effects menu.
Slide sideways over the shutter key and you'll be able to skip between three different camera settings; portrait, square and pano (that's short for panorama, in case you were wondering).
We're not overly sure why Apple has bothered to provide us with a square frame option on iOS 7, but it'll probably please the Instagram generation nevertheless.
At the top of the screen (when holding the iPhone 5C in portrait) you have three toggles for the flash, HDR mode and switching between front and rear cameras. It's all very straight forward and there's no confusing jargon or icons.
We found that the iPhone 5C is far better suited to shooting photos when held in portrait, with icons easier to reach and the volume keys which double as shutter buttons perfectly placed for our fingers.
Rotate the iPhone 5C 90 degrees and things aren't so clear cut - all the icons turn with you, except for the text above the shutter key which spoils the look of the app slightly.
The bigger issue here though is with your stray fingers getting in the way of the camera lens. If the camera had been centralised - like it is on the Lumia 1020, Galaxy S4 and HTC One - this wouldn't be an issue, but seeing as the lens is plonked right in the corner we did have some pink splodges in the corner of a few of our shots.
There aren't a lot of effects in the camera menu to play with, and that's because Apple wants to keep things simple for photographers. There's the effect menu which gives you eight filters to apply for some arty shots, and the way the iPhone 5C previews all the options at the same times means you'll be able to pick the best one for your situation.
However if you're looking to tweak the white balance, tinker with the exposure or turn down the brightness you'll be sorely disappointed. Not even the grid overlay which returned on the iPhone 5 makes the leap to iOS 7.
We've seen the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4 turn up with a multitude of shooting modes from burst to beauty face - but once again there's nothing like this on the iPhone 5C, bar HDR, which is, again, indicative of the simplicity Apple is trying to portray.
Apple has spent time tinkering behind the scenes with its camera software and that has resulted is a surprisingly strong performance with the iPhone 5C able to adapt to various settings. It doesn't sport the same upgraded specs and performance of the iPhone 5S, but don't let that put you off.
You can provide some assistance by tapping what you want the 5C to focus on, plus pinch your fingers together and you'll be able to zoom in. The zoom is purely digital which means picture quality will suffer, so use it sparingly.
We were able to turn out some impressive shots with the iPhone 5C, with it managing to deal with expansive landscapes and depth of field just as easily as up close macro shots.
Flip into panorama mode, and while iOS still forces you to capture in portrait which is bizarre, the technology behind it which stitches it all together is nothing short of miraculous.
We did find that some of our images did look a little washed out at times and there was a general lack of vibrancy if we're being really picky.
Better images can be had with the more expensive iPhone 5S, or the more camera centric Nokia Lumia 1020, but for the common person in the street the 5C will more than suffice - oh and that new sharper front facing camera? It's got selfies written all over it.
Video recording on the iPhone 5C can be accessed by heading to the camera app and swiping your finger from left to right over the shutter key to switch between the ability to capture static and moving images.
The rear 8MP iSight camera is capable of capturing video in full HD, 1080p resolution at 30fps, while the front facing camera has been upgraded to support 720p recording.
As with the camera app you're options here are severely limited, with the option to switch between front and rear cameras and toggle the flash on and off.
If you want to use the flash light while filming you'll need to turn it on before hitting record as there's not option to toggle it once you're running.
When you have pressed record you'll notice an additional shutter button appears in the bottom corner of the screen - pressing this will capture a photo while recording, allowing you to capture special moments in still form as well as in motion.
Video quality is pretty good as long as you keep the iPhone 5C still and don't zoom in, because as soon as you start zooming things get blurry and pixelated.
The iPhone 5C is born from strong media foundations and thus can deliver in pretty much every department, from music to movies to imaging.
With the backing of the iTunes store the iPhone 5C puts millions of songs and thousands of films and TV shows at your finger tips, available for purchase and download.
With its heritage in the iPod sector the iPhone 5C has top-notch audio capabilities will a fully functional music player and great sound quality allowing it to mix with the big boys in the mobile world.
You get a pair of Apple's relatively new earpods bundled in the iPhone 5C box, and while they won't be to everyone's taste in terms of style and comfort they are a noticeable improvement on stock Apple headphones which preceded them.
They are still some way off the best buds out there though, so if you're serious about your music and want to get the most from your iPhone 5C then we'd suggest investing in a decent set.
Back to the handset: you'll want to head over to the music player to get started. Here you can viewing all the songs saved on the 5C, as well as any you may have hanging around in iCloud - with a choice of sorting them by artist, song title or album.
Hit the "more" tab at the bottom of the screen and you'll see you also have the options to browse by genre, compilation or composer - if that's your sort of thing.
You can create and edit playlists from the Music app on the iPhone 5C, allowing you to make that perfect mix while you're on the bus to a party.
As this is an Apple device album art is thrust into the mix, adding a bit of colour to the otherwise optician-white interface.
Flip the iPhone 5C from portrait to landscape and you'll see album art becomes even more important as the images fill the screen in a tile effect allowing you to flick through albums in a visually impressive manner.
Tap a song to play and you'll be transported to the Now Playing screen which itself is pretty self explanatory. There's you're normal play/pause, skip and scrub controls, with repeat and shuffle options below them.
If you tap on where the song details are on the now playing screen they will disappear to reveal a five star rating system, so you can let the iPhone 5C know which songs you favour. Tap again and the song details will return.
There's a button in the top right corner above the album art which will bring up all the tracks on the album you're currently playing.
More options for the music player can be found in the main settings menu - which forces an annoying departure from the Music app - giving you access to an EQ, the option to Shake to Shuffle and to set a volume limit to protect your ears - or those of a loved one.
Videos are, unsurprisingly, handled in the aptly named Video app, where you'll be able to view all your movies, TV shows and music videos you have stored on the iPhone 5C as well as iCloud.
If you're connected to Wi-Fi or trust your mobile signal not to cut out you can stream any iCloud content directly to the iPhone 5C, but if you're going on a plan or don't have a network connection you can always download the media to the handset to ensure fluid playback.
With the iPhone 5, Apple stretched the screen to provide a 16:9 aspect ratio and that 4-inch display is also present on the iPhone 5C making video player a more pleasant experience.
Apple will argue that the 326ppi pixel density means the human eye won't really be able to discern the difference, but the fact is that on comparison there is a noticeable difference.
Watch video on the iPhone 5C in isolation however and you're unlikely to have any real complainants with a bright screen and smooth playback - we do wish that display was just a tad bigger though.
The iPhone 5C supports MP4 video files, and that's pretty much it. There are work arounds with third party video players available in the App Store which support different formats, but loading those videos onto the phone isn't overly straightforward so we'd recommend sticking with Apple's rules this time.
It's a shame these restrictions are in place, as many phone these days support a wide range of video formats and Apple's limiting approach may well put off some prospective punters - although iTunes is rather adept at conversion if you're that bothered.
Video player controls are very simple. You get play/pause, skip, scrub and volume, and that's it.
If your video supports subtitles then an icon will appear in the bottom right of the video player where you can select your language and toggle them on and off.
We found the iPhone 5C was pretty comfortable to hold and if you invest in one of Apple's official cases the rubberised finished means you'll be able to prop it up against a mug or seat back without it sliding all over the place.
One issue we had was with the placement of the headphones port which is right on one side of the handset, meaning the rigid plastic connector sticking out of the bottom of the phone does get in the way of your hands somewhat.
There's a new way of displaying all your snaps in the Photos app on the iPhone 5C thanks to the iOS 7 overhaul.
All your pictures are now automatically group by date and location, providing you with "collections".
Say you're at a party or on holiday, the iPhone 5C will note that all your pictures are being taken at certain locations and at particular times. From that it's able to work out which photos were taken at which events with stunning accuracy and it makes it easier when it comes to showing off snaps to friends and family.
It takes a little getting used to at first, as it's a very different way of browsing through your photos compared to previous iOS iterations and we found it a little annoying to begin with.
After a while though things started to fall into place and now we're merrily flipping through photos like it's the most natural thing we've ever done.
If you're not happy with the photos you have you can always tap the "edit" button when viewing a particular picture to take you into a basic editor.
From there you have various options including crop, rotate, red eye removal, eight filters and auto-enhance.
It's certainly not as detailed as Apple's iPhoto app - which can be downloaded for free from the App Store - but for the occasional photography this simple editor will suffice.
Battery life, connectivity and iTunes
We're not sure what size battery the iPhone 5C is hiding under that polycarbonate finish, but Apple assures us it's a bigger offering than the iPhone 5 - and we're inclined to agree.
In short we've been pretty impressed with the battery performance on the iPhone 5C, it only drops 3% to 4% overnight with various accounts syncing throughout the downtime and with medium levels of usage it comfortably saw out a day.
Overnight drain has haunted past iPhones, but it looks like Apple may have managed to resolve the issue with the 5C.
Apple reckons you'll be able to eek out 10 hours video playback on the iPhone 5C or 40 hours of audio, the same as the iPhone 5, but these are best case scenarios.
You'll still need to plug in and recharge overnight, but if you're just using the phone for calls, texts, emails and a bit of web browsing you won't be caught short.
Of course if you fancy turning brightness up to full whack and then fire up some power-intensive games you'll see that battery drain pretty quickly, but the iPhone 5C still performs better here than the 5.
We took the iPhone 5C for a spin as a sat nav - a process which usually drains phone batteries in no time at all, but the two hour journey saw a drop of 30%.
That's pretty good considering it was constantly rendering maps, keeping a GPS lock, churning out voice commands and still syncing our various accounts in the background without the screen switching off.
Unsurprisingly the iPhone 5C comes will all manner of connectivity options, but NFC is still the high-profile absentee at the Apple party. Not even a plastic clad smartphone could tempt the firm to give us a bit of contactless tech.
We've already spoken about the Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, 3G and 4G connectivity of the iPhone 5C in this review, with special mention of the latter as this phone supports the most LTE bands than any other smartphone, allowing even more people to take advantage of the superfast network.
There's a new way to control Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 in iOS 7 with the arrival of the Control Center, which is accessed with a swipe up from the bottom of the screen.
This brings up some shortcut settings including toggles for both connections, plus you can also enable airplane mode here if you want to go off the grid - or, you know, if you get on a plane.
GPS and GLONASS also make an appearance to help you locate yourself in Maps with earth shattering accuracy and navigate you round the world with the free turn-by-turn satellite navigation system.
The iPhone 5C sports Apple's new physical connection port - dubbed Lightning - on its base which is used for charging as well as connecting to computers and any third party peripherals you may pick up.
It provides a faster connection than the 30-pin port it replaced, allowing for quicker data transfer meaning you won't be waiting around quite so long.
Apple offers its own cloud storage solution cunningly named iCloud which lets you store all your vital information in its secure servers should the worst happen to your iPhone 5C.
You can back up everything from contacts, mail and calendars to photos, documents and notes to iCloud, and if you've owned an iDevice in the past you can download your settings from that onto your iPhone 5C - saving you from having to re-enter various bits of information.
iCloud also enables the "Find my iPhone" feature, so if you were to misplace your 5C you can log onto the iCloud website and see where your phone is on a map.
Once located you have the choice of making play a sound so you can dig it out from behind the sofa, report it as lost or erase the contents of the phone - it's all very clear stuff.
No longer is there a reliance in Apple's desktop iTunes software when you come to starting up your iPhone for the first time - no physical connection ever needs to made to a computer during the 5C's lifetime if you don't fancy digging out your Lightning cable.
If you do decide it's time for things to get physical between your computer and iPhone 5C then you'll need to make sure you've got the latest version of iTunes (that's version 11.1) installed, otherwise it will refuse to play with your new phone.
Why would you want/need to connect your iPhone 5C to your computer? Well perhaps you've got lots of music, movies and photos you want to transfer from your machine to your new phone - iTunes will pull it all in, churn it up and spit it out to your 5C in a useable format.
Using iTunes is a rather hit and miss experience, with the software performing far better on a Mac than a Windows PC, but either way it's usually a long, drawn out process which involves lots of syncing - so avoid it if you can or are tremendously regimented in your music organisation.
Maps and navigation
Maps is a contentious area of the Apple ecosystem since its rather embarrassing launch which saw the whole of the internet go about spotting the myriad of errors in the software. It lead to an Apple climb down and CEO Tim Cook recommending users try alternative solutions until a fix in place.
A year on and we're still waiting for the major overhaul to take place - Maps is still determined when we type "Luton" that we mean a tiny village in Devon rather and the large Bedfordshire based town.
Some things have been fixed, Doncaster for example is now spelt correctly, but there's still quite some way for Apple Maps to go before it can seriously challenge Google Maps, with elements like public transport integration not on offer.
Of course it's not always bad news and for the most part Maps works pretty well, and it's able to comprehend where we are and where we want to go.
The colour palette is pleasing to the eye and everything is very easy to read with various points of interest marked on the map including restaurants, hospitals and train stations.
Maps load very quickly on the iPhone 5C, be it over Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G, so there's no awkward waiting around when you fire up the app, although we found it sometimes took a good five seconds or to locate us. Most of the time however we were pin pointed within a couple of seconds.
Turn Wi-Fi off and try and locate yourself when indoors and the 5C struggles to really nail down your location, placing a large blue halo round the location dot, which is usually in the right vicinity.
As well as the stock map view you can also view the world in a series of satellite images or choice a hybrid option which sees roads laid on top of the satellite snaps.
However unlike Google Maps, the TomTom powered Apple maps doesn't have the StreetView option, nor does it sport any public transport information, so if you want to know which bus or train to get you'll have to go else where.
The 3D Flyover option which Apple lauded at the launch of Maps last year is nice to view when you're over a city which has actually supports it, but for the majority of the world there are no 3D renders present and thus the mode is merely there for aesthetic value.
While there are some gremlins on the navigation side of things, in general Apple Maps is a very capable turn-by-turn sat nav alternative - and you'd hope so considering TomTom is behind the technology.
Tap in your destination and pin pops up with a little blue square next to the address details with an estimated drive time - tap this and Maps will load the route from your current location, plus provide two alternatives.
Select the route you want and hit "Drive" and you'll be launched into the navigation screen, where the blue route stands out well on the grey roads making it really clear where you need to go - especially useful at tricky junctions.
We did find the text display the time and distance left on our journey and our estimated time of arrival were a bit small at the top of the screen and we found ourselves squinting at the screen to read them - not particularly safe when you're driving.
The stero speakers on the base of the iPhone 5C allow for loud, clear spoken instructions from a robotic male voice, and the volume really impressed us as we've found many phones struggle to be heard over the noise of the car.
When it comes to applications the App Store on the iPhone 5C really only has one competitor in the form of Google Play, and it's fair to say that the App Store still comes out on top in terms of quality - if not quantity.
At last count earlier this year, Apple confirmed it had over 900,000 applications in its App Store, so there's plenty for you to choose from including business related content, fitness apps and games.
The store itself is simple to navigate with various categories to drill down into to find the apps best suited to you, and the Top Charts shows you which ones are the most popular at the moment - and ultimately the ones which are worth downloading.
You can download a maximum of three applications simultaneously on the iPhone 5C, letting you get your favourite apps onto the phone even quicker.
If you select more than three to download the others will wait in the wings on your homescreen and will commence downloading when another has finished.
Apps such as Clock, Calendar, Weather, Calculator and Compass are all self explanatory, intuitive and have been given a visual reboot thanks to iOS 7.
The Passbook app arrived with iOS 6 last year and provides you with a storage area for all your loyalty and gift cards, cinema tickets and airplane boarding passes.
It's scope is limited depending on which region you live in and there's only a handful of applications which current support the Passbook way of life - although most of the major airlines have tie ins with the service, as do the likes of Starbucks, AirBnB and yPlan.
Passbook seems like the perfect opportunity to work in NFC to the iPhone ecosystem, but calls for the contactless technology have continued to fall on deaf ears over at Apple - the wait goes on, and looks like it may do so forever.
In short Passbook has a lot of potential, it just hasn't been realised by Apple or app developers yet.
Siri makes a return to the iPhone arena on the iPhone 5C and thanks to the iOS 7 update it's got a few new tricks up its sleeve - including the ability for you to choose whether it's a woman's or man's dulcet tones which ask you "what can I help you with?"
Just hold down the home button to activate Siri, or hold down the central button on the earpods cable if you're in need of some hands-free action.
All the usual commands are present, from making a call and writing a text to setting a reminder to buy milk and finding out if you need to take an umbrella with you - because looking out of the window is difficult.
You can ask your virtual assistant to launch applications - although we found this a little unnecessary - and with the help of WolframAlpha you can ask poignant questions such as "how many days until Christmas?" or "how far away is the moon?" It's enlightening stuff.
We still think Siri trumps the Google Now offering in Android, but it's usefulness varies from country to country - with the best service available in the States where far more services are intertwined with the personal assistant.
While Apple's own business orientated applications, aimed at taking on Microsoft's Office suite and Google Docs, don't come pre-installed on the iPhone 5C it's worth noting these apps are now available to download free on all newly purchased iPhones.
This means you can get access to Pages (a word processor), Keynote (a PowerPoint rival) and Numbers (basically Excel) free of charge, which will be a godsend for anyone looking to use the iPhone 5C for business. You'll also get iPhoto and iMovie for free too, and really does supercharge the iPhone 5C when it comes to being a fully-formed device right out of the box.
All your documents are backed up to iCloud as well, meaning they'll be available on any of your iDevices or Macs - plus you can also access them via any web browser by going to the iCloud website.
Let's face it: if you want the best apps experience out there, then Apple still has it. While the top end of Android devices are pretty universal in their slick UI and power for apps, Google Play still has to deal with so much fragmentation.
Google has done a fantastic job at managing to overcome this problem, but its rare we'll download an app on an iPhone and an Android device and not be more impressed by the UI (if perhaps not always the functionality) on the iPhone or iPad.
We've done a little bit more of an in-depth test with the iPhone 5C, and subjected it to our Benchmarking system. We used three platforms - Geek Bench 3, SunSpider and PeaceKeeper - for a decent level of comparison.
There's no surprises when it comes to the iPhone 5C benchmarks, as it matches the iPhone 5 every step of the way thanks to its identical spec sheet.
Obviously the iPhone 5C doesn't perform anywhere near as well as the iPhone 5S, but with a brand new A7 chip inside Apple's latest flagship phone that's no surprise either.
Geek Bench 3
Hands on gallery
The iPhone 5C leaves us feeling a little puzzled. On the one hand it's a great smartphone, and being a carbon copy of the iPhone 5 in terms of performance is certainly no bad thing - but its price tag, overall design and lack of glass-based, premium feel leaves a slightly unpleasant taste in the mouth.
It's safe to say nobody currently sporting the iPhone 5 will be upgrading to the iPhone 5C, and only a handful will make the leap to the iPhone 5S after just a year of ownership, so it's the iPhone 4S owners and below - in the Apple crowd at least - who'll be weighing up the C and S.
Of course there's also the spate of users transitioning over from BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Android to consider, plus those entering the smartphone game for the first time.
While many hoped to see the 'budget iPhone', it's good to see the iPhone 5C not comprising on specs and bar the lack of a metal chassis it matches the excellent iPhone 5 every step of the way with the added bonus of iOS 7.
The inclusion of iOS 7 is a massive boon for the iPhone range in general. The operating system was in dire need of a reboot and iOS 7 has managed to do that with aplomb, bringing a couple of handy new features such as Control Centre to the relative simplicity and solid, fluid interface Apple has offered since its inception.
Support for a wide range of 4G bands will be music to the ears of consumers in various countries around the world including the UK where the iPhone 5 was only support by one network.
Superfast network speeds go hand in hand with web browsing and the iPhone 5C makes mincemeat of most desktop websites, even over Wi-Fi and 3G.
People will be split over the polycarbonate body of the iPhone 5C. To be fair to Apple it is a solid build and seems like it could take a few knocks, but it certainly lacks that premium feeling we've become accustomed to from iPhones.
When you're shelling out as much as Apple is asking for the iPhone 5C you have to ask yourself does it feel like it's worth the money you're paying? In all honesty, no.
Thanks to its bright colours the iPhone 5C looks a little like a toy phone (even if it doesn't perhaps feel it in the hand), and considering it's similar in price to the HTC One and Sony Xperia Z is doesn't come close to either in terms of class.
It's that price which feels like it's the real sticking point though. Sure it's cheaper than the iPhone 5S, and the likes of the 5 and the 4S when they launched, but you need to look at the competition.
If you're coming to the end of your iPhone 4S two year contract you'll already be paying a premium monthly price, and we don't see why you would compromise for what is essentially last year's phone in a cheaper, chunkier chassis instead of sticking with the price plan you're on and upgrading to the iPhone 5S.
We did have some other niggles with the iPhone 5C, including a rather lacklustre keyboard which only appeared in native Apple apps, poor contact integration and still too much dependence on the main settings menu which just feels unintuitive - but these are problems that have dogged the iPhone range for years, and many users have comfortably negotiated around in the end.
If you're set on buying an iPhone, these minor problems are surmountable - they're just less noticeable on the competition.
We should be comparing the iPhone 5C against the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini and HTC One Mini, but thanks to that hefty price tag Apple has slapped on its plastic clad handset we can't as it's already priced itself out of that market.
Instead the iPhone 5C is stuck rubbing shoulders with the big guns of 2013, a lot of which have witnessed slight price drops since launch making them cheaper than this Apple offering, and along with sporting better specs and more compelling features, it makes things difficult for the 5C.
Pricing has always been less of an issue for Apple products as people are prepared to pay a premium for what are generally excellent devices, thoughtfully put together and cleverly engineered.
The iPhone 5C is still all these things, but Apple hasn't pushed the boundaries and thus there's no real incentive for consumers to make the leap - unless they are dead set on owning an iPhone but really can't stretch that extra bit to the iPhone 5S.
In summary the iPhone 5C is a great phone, it's just a shame it's last year's great phone wrapped in a less appealing shiny plastic body and slapped with a still-premium price tag.
If you're paying a larger price you want a phone which looks and feels premium, and while the iPhone 5C comes with all the Apple hallmarks and tradition, it's a device that falls between two camps. If you want the best Apple has to offer and you're coming from a 4S, then go for the new 5S.
If you're agnostic in the market, there are plenty of other options available for the money, and even if you want an iPhone for the first time, we'd still suggest making doubly sure that this is the phone for you, especially on a two year deal.
It's not that Apple has done its best to make the iPhone 5C appealing, but as last year's phone re-packaged its hard to recommend it totally - although the large range of colours and combination with iOS 7 helps enormously.
First reviewed: September 2013