iPhone 5C Hand Feel and Other First Impressions

After using a Blackberry for nearly 4 years, I switched to using an iPhone 4s. As I wrote about here and here, it was a great leap up for portable computing, but it was a step down in terms of voice performance and hand feel.

On Friday I got an iPhone 5C (32GB white) to replace my 4s. So what do I think of the 5C after 3 full days of use?

Thanks to quality polycarbonate and rounded edges the 5C feels nice in my hand and not at all slippery. This, in and of itself, makes it a better phone for me than the 4s. Angular edges and extra weight made the 4s uncomfortable to hold. The 5s I briefly held had the same angular edges. And though the 5C is only 6% lighter than the 4s, it somehow feels quite a bit lighter than that and less fatiguing to hold. While the 5C is not as comfortable as the smaller, lighter, and more rounded Blackberry 9700, it is comfortable enough to use for extended periods of time, including reading lengthy text.

And speaking of reading, the display is great for that. I don’t know which factors have to do with it—fonts, back light, color scheme, display quality, etc. I just know that I have never had an easier time reading text on any other display. Text is always crisp, and the brightness and contrast always seem perfect. I suspect auto brightness improvement is a major factor because I have yet to manually adjust brightness (unlike the iPhone 4s, which required frequent fiddling).

A few other comments:

  • Overall, iOS 7 is a little worse for me than iOS 6. I don’t like cutesy animations and zooms slowing down the responsiveness of a powerfully fast phone.
  • In iOS 7 the vast majority of Apple-designed apps had little or no improvements to functionality, and the calendar app makes such poor use of display real estate that I was motivated to download a replacement.
  • I do think iOS 7 looks a little nicer than iOS 6, but I’m not interested in trading off functionality or speed for eye candy.
  • The new Control Center is a great idea but almost useless because I can’t customize the shortcuts. I do use it because it’s the only way to toggle portrait orientation lock that I’ve found. But my two most frequent settings toggles are not there (Cellular Data and Location Services).
  • I do like iOS 7 improvements to notifications, especially on the lock screen. You can swipe on the lock screen for a specific email message, and that specific message will open up in your email app. Another nice touch is how the clock timer shows on the lock screen.
  • Safari is the one app I’ve found that seems much improved. It’s faster, uses more of the display, and has a few new features which stay out of the way until you need them. I’m starting to use it again after having stopped completely in favor of Chrome and Atomic.
  • Some 3rd party apps that worked fine with iOS 6 are sometimes buggy with iOS 7. The worst has been the Google Search app that keeps freezing up on me after doing a search. Hopefully these bugs are fixed by the end of the year.
  • I doubt I’d be able tell the difference between 4s and 5C voice quality. Both have acceptable voice quality, but not as good as the Blackberry 9700.
  • I was not really wanting a bigger display because I didn’t want the extra weight/heft. However, the 5C feels a lot lighter than than the 4s and fits easily into my pants pocket. I’m already appreciating the extra display area, especially when viewing lists (emails, news items, etc.).

Overall I’m satisfied, but not blown away. iOS 7 feels like change for the sake of change as just as many things got worse as got better. But the evolution of the hardware more than made up for that with speed, camera and display improvements. I especially like the improved hand feel. Thumbs up.

Author: Joe Golton

I’m a dad with a son who loves baseball. Professionally, I’ve been a software developer, investor, controller, and logistics manager. I now make my living from this blog, supplemented with occasional consulting gigs.