C is for colourful: Apple engages the iPhone 5c

If you thought the news stopped at an upgraded iPhone, you were wrong, as Apple did what many expected and announced a plastic iPhone, too.

For the first time in a long time, Apple isn’t keeping its predecessor around following an update, instead choosing to replace the 5 with a new model.

This new phone is called the iPhone 5c, and according to Apple, it’s the most colourful iPhone yet.

“iPhone 5c is everything iPhone 5 was and more, in an all-new design packed with great features,” said Philip Schiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at Apple.

“iPhone 5c is designed with a beautiful polycarbonate enclosure that looks and feels so solid in your hand.”

That solid build comes from a body made of plastic, similar to the polycarbonate bodies that Apple used to use in the white MacBook, before it was retired and replaced with just the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lineup.

Inside the plastic chassis is a steel frame holding everything together and working as an antenna, with pretty much the same internals as the iPhone 5 that up until yesterday was Apple’s top-of-the-line phone. This includes dual-core 1.3GHz Apple A6 processor, 1GB RAM, choice of 16 or 32GB storage, 8 megapixel rear camera with flash and Full HD video capture, front-facing 1.2 megapixel camera, GPS, support for 4G LTE, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and a 4 inch IPS screen running 640×1136 and producing roughly 326 pixels per inch.

That effectively makes it the replacement to the iPhone 5, though it will arrive with iOS 7 instead of version 6 which came with its predecessor.

It also comes in more colours – five to be exact – with white, blue, green, yellow, and pink instead of just the black and white options customers had with the iPhone 5. All variants will be hitting stores in Australia from September 20.

The most unfortunate part of the iPhone 5c is the price, though, and it’s a shame that the “c” doesn’t stand for “cheap” or “cost-effective,” because with a starting price of $739 for the 16GB moving up to $869 for the 32GB model, the 5c is about as well-priced as the previous iPhone 5.

You can just hear the marketing teams at Samsung, LG, Sony, Nokia, and HTC – to name but a few – laughing all the way to the bank with this one, as even upcoming flagship phones can now hit under the price of the handset that many will regard as less than the best on the Apple front.

In fact, Nokia came out on Twitter with the most appropriate response we’ve seen yet, citing “imitation is the best form of flattery” because the iPhone 5c does seem to share a close design with handsets already available in the Lumia line-up. We’ve reviewed a few this year, and off-hand, there is some obvious resemblance to both the Nokia 620 and 820, even if the buttons don’t stick to the uniform colour. For that, there’s always the Lumia 625, which we reviewed earlier in the week. 

We’re not sure on this one, to be honest, because it seems like the iPhone 5c costs more than it probably should, especially since Apple doesn’t really have a player in the constantly competitive budget smartphone world.

It will be releasing a new 8GB iPhone 4S with the 3.5 inch screen soon, and with a $529 recommended retail price, this fills in at least some of the mid-range, though with only 8GB and no microSD slot for upgrading memory, we’ll be interested to see how many customers see that as good value.