Attendees at Apple's Tuesday announcement of the iPhone 5S and 5C crowded into a hall to get their hands on the new phones for a few minutes and try them out. Here's a roundup of some of those first impressions, almost universally favorable for both handsets.
iPhone 5C, the lower-cost iPhone
Compared to the now-discontinued iPhone 5, the main differences in the 5C are: a plastic body wrapped around a reinforced steel frame; bright colors; an improved front-facing FaceTime HD camera; and slightly larger battery. It's also somewhat heavier: 4.65 ounces versus 3.95 ounces for the iPhone 5. It's available only in 16G- and 32-GB models; no 64-GB storage.
The plastic phone's feel is getting good marks.
"Remarkably solid and dense, more like a candy-lacquered metal phone than a plastic phone," say CNET's editors. "The 5C has a steel frame under the polycarbonate, and the smooth finish feels very hand-friendly. Hopefully it'll stay scratch-resistant. The curved edges are a bit of a return to the older plastic iPhones, but the phone's squarer design still comes through: it has a flat back."
The glossy finish is "not the fingerprint magnet that we've come to expect on other devices," says Engadget's Brad Molen.
Camera, buttons, ports "are all in the same place," he says. The one change: "instead of two sets of speakers flanking the lightning port, the 5c features only four individual holes lined up to its right."
With the same A6 chip as the iPhone 5, the 5C "performs terrifically, and looks fantastic," says Darrell Etherington, at TechCrunch.
"I'm maybe most impressed by how light and yet solid the iPhone 5C feels," he says. "While it may not quite live up to the ultra-luxe metal and glass feel of the iPhone 5 and now 5[S], it doesn't feel like a cheap device; this is a premium phone, despite the price tag and somewhat older internals."
"The 5c is almost like a toy, a rugged, comfortable device that doesn't feel much heavier than the iPhone 5 despite being noticeably larger," says David Pierce, writing for The Verge.
"If you're going to make a plastic phone, though, this is how to do it. From the cohesive shell to the smooth and glossy back (which did pick up a fair number of fingerprints) the device feels far better than Samsung's or LG's plastic options."
Importantly, the 5S's year-old A6 processor handles iOS 7 just fine. "iOS 7 ran smoothly, and the camera was if anything faster than normal — though part of that is surely the new camera app in iOS 7," Pierce wrote.
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