Apple has finally officially announced the iPhone 5C, the company’s first iPhone that departs from the typical “ultra premium” look and feel that they’ve prided themselves on since the launch of the first one. The device’s claim to fame is obviously its ability to be had in a multitude of different colors, with Apple seeding the market with 5 different selections to choose from.
The phone obviously reminds us of what Motorola’s trying to do with the Moto X, a phone that can be customized with over 2,000 different combinations of colors in the Moto Maker. You may have remembered our Moto Maker walkthrough where we showed you all the different things you could change to make the phone truly “yours.”
That particular feature is still exclusive to AT&T customers for now, but Motorola has set the stage for manufacturing a phone that is made just for you. We’re obviously wondering how these two devices stack up, so let’s take a look!
Apple’s iPhone 5C is a phone that’s “unapologetically plastic,” according to them. It sounds like they’re trying too hard to make their plastic materials sound less… plasticy. Apple says it’s arsenic-free and mercury-free, and that it’s dense enough where it actually feels “premium.” The device is aimed for those who want a more affordable (read: cheaper) iPhone that doesn’t have all the same bells and whistles as the iPhone 5S.
Apple challenges the custom device space Motorola looked to jump start by introducing a series of silicone cases that have holes in them. The idea is to allow you to give your phone a different look by simply plopping a case onto it. Let’s be real here — it’s a case. One that tons of other manufacturers could have made. It’s not really a big deal, but Apple definitely is making it sound like one.
Cosmetics and aesthetics aside, there’s still a great deal of “phone” involved here. Let’s jump into what allowed Apple to introduce it for a $99 starting price.
Hardware and specs
The iPhone 5C is said to replace the iPhone 5, so the internal, functional specs remain largely the same. We’re looking at an Apple A6 processor, which is a dual-core chipset that features quad-core graphics. Apple’s going to be delivering it to us in 16GB or 32GB flavoring, and while they have yet to confirm RAM we imagine it will have the same 1GB that the iPhone 5 had.
Apple’s 4-inch display makes a return here, of course, with a “Retina” resolution of 1136 x 640, which is actually sub-720p. The pixel density of 326 is still quite significant, though, which makes the text and graphics look as sharp and crisp as anything else. It’s an IPS TFT-LCD affair here, with all the multi-touch points and colors you can handle. Nothing really stands out compared to previous models, but it’s still quite beautiful.
The iPhone 5C will feature the same 8 megapixel backside-illuminated camera that the iPhone 5 had, which wasn’t a bad piece of sensory. It’s a 5-element f/2.4 lens that can record 1080p HD video at 30 frames-per-second.
If you don’t remember, Apple received a lot of heat for a “purple hue” issue that occurred when trying to shoot in lowlight, though that problem has since been cleared up through software updates. Flipping it around to the front, you’ll get the all-important 1.2 megapixel FaceTime camera that can shoot 720p HD video. Selfies and video chats are the main uses here, of course.
Software and features
The iPhone 5C will launch with Apple iOS 7, the latest major software upgrade by the company. This rendition of the software was unveiled quite some time ago, though Apple has finally given a date of September 18th for its release date.
This will be the biggest change in aesthetics from one version of iOS to the next, with Apple ditching the gradient-filled look with a palette of brighter, more charming colors. The whole thing has gotten a bit flat, which is just one of the many new design trends in mobile tech. All the changes aren’t strictly looks-based, though.
One of the bigger things Apple added are quick toggles and music controls, which can be accessed when pulling up from the display. This is where you’ll go to change things like brightness, Bluetooth, WiFi, and skip between tracks, all without having to jump in and out of the Settings or Music app.
Changes to Siri bring the ability to change the virtual assistant’s voice between male or female. Siri can also respond to more commands, though we’ll have to wait until iOS 7 is fully available to see what she (or he?) has in store for us.
Other features for iOS7 will include:
- Revamped user interface for Mail, Weather, and Messages
- New omni-bar for Safari
- iTunes Radio
- AirDrop to share photos with other iOS users over-the-air
- Snapshots of apps when using the app switcher
You can read more about all of these changes in our iOS 7 breakdown from earlier this summer.
The Moto X is one of the most interesting devices of the year. It doesn’t house the most powerful silicon in the world, but Motorola has made waves with its “assembled in America” backstory, and the ability for certain customers to customize their phones with a multitude of colors in the Moto Maker — to the tune of over 2,000 different combinations.
Also available through the Moto Maker are custom engravings and bootup messages. Staying on the topic of build and aesthetics, Motorola also prides itself on the slight curve the phone has, making for a more comfortable phone to hold in the hand.
Motorola made a bold statement with the Moto X, with the company declaring they wouldn’t be interested in playing the specs game with all the rest. Motorola didn’t need a 5-inch+ display with all the pixels they could cram in, an 8-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage or a 20 megapixel camera to excite the masses.
Instead, Motorola decided they wanted to make a phone that was “just right,” and one that had respectable battery life. The 4.7-inch display is most welcome in that regard. Motorola’s suspect decision to go with a 720p display was highly scrutinized, but the pixel density with the smaller screen size (312 ppi) makes the device just as crisp and clear as any of them. And the RGB subpixel arrangement of the AMOLED panel does us a lot of favors in areas of clarity and color accuracy.
Hardware and specs
Motorola caused confusion regarding the Motorola X8 computing system when it was first announced, with the company initially being a tad vague about what it was. Later, we learned that it was actually a custom version of Qualcomm’s dual-core Snapdragon S4 Pro clocked at 1.7GHz.
Many folks wrote the device off with that, but the company optimized the chipset to squeeze as much out of it as they can. While there are only two application cores, Motorola also added two cores for low-powered computing for the device’s various “always listening” functions (Active Notifications and Touchless controls, which we’ll touch on in the section below).
Couple those four cores with a quad-core Adreno 320 GPU (the same one found inside Motorola’s Snapdragon 600 chipset, mind you) and that’s where the X8 name is derived from. As for the rest, here’s a quick tale of the tape for the Moto X:
- 2GB of RAM
- 10MP RGBC rear camera
- 2MP front camera
- Bluetooth 4.0
- WiFi a/b/g/n/ac
- aGPS with GLONASS
- 2,200mAh battery
It isn’t a phone that will punch you in the nose and make you cry in terms of sheer power, but the Moto X has more than enough inside to keep you running for a solid two years.
Motorola’s RGBC camera is a 10 megapixel shooter that is said to be a good performer in low light. Motorola’s added “cyan” (hence the extra C on the end of the color arrangement) might make for some weird looking shots every now and then, but there aren’t many sensors of this size that can otherwise claim good low-light performance without having to sacrifice image quality. For video, you can crank it up to 1080p at up to 30 frames per second. The Moto X also features a 2 megapixel HD front-facing camera for self portraits and video chat.
Software and features
We imagined Google would tell Motorola to tone their user interface customization down, and so they have — the Moto X is nearly stock Android at first glance. The phone is virtually stock Android 4.2.2, though custom changes were obviously made to accommodate stuff like Touchless Controls and Active Notifications.
The former allows you to activate your phone’s Google Now voice search using your voice. You can issue all of the same commands you could if you were using Google Voice regularly by saying “OK Google Now,” and following that up with something like “navigate to Starbucks.” This is what one of the aforementioned low-powered cores — dubbed the natural language core — makes work, all without having to sacrifice battery life.
As for Active Notifications, that feature will illuminate parts of the AMOLED display to give you a quick glance of your notifications as they come in. You can use the sliding mechanism to either unlock to the home-screen or unlock straight to the notification. Active Notifications will also pulsate throughout the day to show you the time, date, and whether or not you need to charge your battery up.
Here are some of the other things you can find in Motorola’s new experience:
- Motorola Assist — an app that will help you respond to messages and calls while you’re sleeping, driving or in a meeting.
- Motorola Connect — a Google Chrome plugin that allows you to see incoming calls and text messages, and lets you respond to text messages right from your computer.
- Motorola Migrate — a tool that makes it easier for you to transfer your contacts and media over to your new phone.
And that’s pretty much it. Google and Motorola put their foot down when it comes to carrier bloatware, too, so you won’t have to worry about too many “undesirable” applications clogging the experience up. This is as pure as pure can get for a phone that’s not part of the Nexus program, and it makes the device that much snappier. For more on the Moto X, do yourself a favor and read our official review.
Which horse wins this race?
So the race is on — which of these color-oriented beasts will best the other? Does the iPhone 5C have what it takes to make people forget about the Moto X, or did Motorola breed a surefire winner this go-around?
There’s a poll sitting below, and you know what to do with it — vote! And once you’ve done that, you’ll want to head to the comments section (because there’s sure to be some pretty juicy discussion going on down there). Hop to it!