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iPhone 5c: The no-brainer upgrade for iPhone 4 or 4s

Philip Michaels | Sept. 27, 2013
The iPhone 5c is a full-featured phone with a more-than-reasonable price tag that targets iPhone 4 or 4s users.

The 5c feels heavier than the iPhone 5, too—and it is, at 4.65 ounces to the 5's 3.95. Again, though, the extra weight is not necessarily a bad thing. I always found the iPhone 5 a little too light for my tastes, as if lifting it up would cause it to fly out of my hand. The 5c's extra half-ounce of heft makes it feel less fragile than its polycarbonate shell might suggest.

And not that I go around smashing new phones the minute I have them in hand, but I can offer some anecdotal evidence that the polycarbonate shell can withstand some rough treatment. The evidence comes courtesy of my two-year-old daughter who, upon seeing the iPhone 5c, declared "That's my phone," grabbed it, and ran off. Two-year-olds are not generally known for their careful handling of mobile devices, and indeed, the iPhone 5c took a few terrifying tumbles toward the ground. All I can say is that Apple choose the 5c's material well: The back casing of the phone looks none the worse for wear, maintaining its bright blue sheen.

I wouldn't argue that you don't need a case to protect your iPhone 5c, though it does seem a shame to cover up the phone's colorful new back. If you decide that the additional protection is worth the loss in aesthetic appeal, though, you'll probably be able to find better third-party offerings than the $29 cases Apple offers as an option for the 5c. Apple's case colors don't feel as vibrant as the colors adorning the phone itself, and Apple's decision to put an array of holes on the back of the protective case is...curious.

Networks and cameras
The iPhone 5c offers more compatibility with different flavors of LTE cellular networks than the iPhone 5 does—13 in all, according to Apple, which is more than any other smartphone in the world (except for the 5s, of course). Admittedly, it's an improvement that doesn't exactly fire the imagination; but if you're jumping from a previous generation of the iPhone as I am, you'll be impressed with the faster, Wi-Fi—like speeds of LTE when browsing the Web or consuming streaming media on the go. (You'll be less thrilled with the faster clip at you which you go through your allotted data when using LTE, however.)

Even with added LTE compatibility, you should pay attention to which network carriers provide the best coverage in the places where you plan to use your iPhone 5c, and choose your provider accordingly. My home, for example, occupies a tract of land that is impervious to AT&T's network coverage, so I'll be taking my business elsewhere for the next two years.


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