The Apple iPhone 5c is a very solid smartphone - we know it well because we've spent a year with its previous alter ego, the iPhone 5. Try as we might though, we didn't find any difference between the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5 that goes beyond the exterior. Sure the battery has grown by 70 mAh, but that's not the kind of difference you can feel in real-life usage.
The worst part is that not only are the changes skin-deep, but they're also in the wrong direction. When offered the choice between the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5, not a single member of our team would pick the new smartphone, which actually feels like a downgrade. Despite the solid build quality, this is the first Apple smartphone since the iPhone 4 not to have that premium in-hand feel that the brand has been highly praised for.
Then again, the comparison between the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5c is only relevant if you're switching from one to the other which, as you already know, clearly isn't the idea. So the more pressing question here is whether the Apple iPhone 5c is worth your hard-earned cash.
As we said, the colorful little fella is certainly a capable smartphone that offers a solid iOS experience. The latest version of the Apple platform is a big step forward and, even if it's still some way behind Android in terms of functionality, it still provides more features than the majority of users will ever even know about, let alone use.
So had the iPhone 5c become the midrange smartphone that rumors tipped it to be, it would have been a real winner. However, its pricing puts it on par or well above than just about every smartphone on the market - barring its own 5s sibling - so things look a bit different.
Last years' internals and bezels are way too thick for a premium offering in 2013, along with a camera that hasn't been improved upon in two years. The marvelously slim waistline is gone too and the shiny plastic, while fresh and upbeat, is not an advantage around these parts of the market. Just look at the sort of rivals the iPhone 5c will face, and you'll see our point.
Today you can have either of the three top Android phones - the HTC One (32GB version), LG's G2 (16GB), or the Samsung Galaxy S4 (16GB and a 64GB microSD card) for about €100 less than Apple wants for the iPhone 5c. Heck, even the fresh-on-the-shelves Sony Xperia Z1 costs less than the plastic iPhone. Those flagships offer amazing performance, excellent large screens and a choice of plastic and metallic bodies to go with the more functional - albeit not as consistent - Android platform.
In case you aren't into big screens, you can have the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini or the HTC One mini for nearly half the price of an iPhone 5c. Both run on dual-core processors, pack 4.3" displays and offer very solid smartphone experience. They are not quite as impressively fluid or productive as the iPhone 5c, but come close enough and save you a few hundred dollars to spend on apps.
But those outside threats aren't even the biggest problem of the iPhone 5c. Those who are into iOS have a much better option in the iPhone 5s. We really can't stress enough how much better bang for your buck you'll be getting by spending the extra $100 on a proper flagship, flaunting a TouchID button and a new camera to wow you, not to mention the more premium body.
Perhaps, this was Apple's plan all along. A support act that wouldn't eclipse the headliner, but help draw attention towards Apple in the hope that once you are in the Apple Store, you will have no trouble finding the right one for you. It's certain that the iPhone 5s was always meant to be the one in charge, with the iPhone 5c sitting on the sidelines as an alternative for those looking for an extra bit of color. No pressure or anything.