Even the iPhone 5c's plastic is better - here's why
There's been quite a bit of discussion about Apple's decision to use polycarbonate for the iPhone's case. Is the plastic on the iPhone 5c a sign that Apple's legendary focus on product quality is slipping? Absolutely not. Let me explain why.
We've been critical of some manufacturers' use of plastic cases in the past. And that's raised the ire of a few commenters here on our forums and on Twitter.
"Polycarbonate is just another word for plastic!" say some.
Polycarbonate is plastic, yes. But all plastic is not polycarbonate.
Polycarbonate has been used for years in the optical industry, to craft eyeglass lenses that are shatter-resistant and thinner than standard plastic lenses. Many of the sunglasses that are available use polycarbonate lenses; windshields on motorcycles, on planes and helicopters; some computer screens and e-ink devices - polycarbonate's use is myriad. It's a lightweight material that's easily molded into different shapes, It's a good electrical insulator and it's very heat resistant, too.
Apple's use of polycarbonate as a manufacturing material for the iPhone 5c is not unique in the world of smartphones. Nokia, for example, uses polycarbonate to make the cases used in its Lumia 925 and 1020 smartphones. HTC used polycarbonate on its One X; Samsung has used polycarbonate on some of its Galaxy models.
According to Apple folklore, Steve Jobs had the original iPhone's production retooled at the last minute because he discovered that when he carried a prototype iPhone in his pocket, the screen got easily scratched by his car keys. Corning worked overtime to produce Gorilla Glass to fit the phone instead.
And the big downside to polycarbonate is just that: while it's shatter-resistant, it scratches easily. That's why Apple has taken a step that some other smartphone makers haven't - they've lacquer coated the polycarbonate back of the iPhone 5c to make it more scratch resistant.
The iPhone 5c will scratch if you try hard enough, so it's still a good idea to put some kind of case on it that will protect it. Whether you go with Apple's cases or one of the many cases from third-party manufacturers now getting ready to flood the market is entirely up to you. But one way or the other, protect the phone.
The complaints we've had about the use of plastic-backed phones isn't in the use of plastic itself - it's in the build quality and the quality of the materials used. A cheap phone made of crappy components feels cheap and looks cheap.
So, to summarize: Yes, Apple went with a plastic back. But it's not just plastic. It's polycarbonate. Which keeps weight down, is shatter-resistant, heat-resistant and just an all-around better material. It's coated to keep from scratching. It's better.
There's nothing cheap about the build quality of the iPhone 5c. That's the difference.
Do you agree? Or do you think Apple's use of plastic was a mistake? Or do you think I'm splitting hairs with this polycarbonate stuff? Sound off in the comments.
If you're still sitting on the fence about the iPhone 5c, here are some links that might help you with your decision:
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PS The plastic built Smartphone doesn't have issues with it's many radios. Building with metal can foul up the signal strength and in gps the accuracy. Building with plastic is much easier and owning many Samsung phones the radios have always been very strong. The gps is always very fast to lock on and accurate. Plastic is very friendly with radios.
Now I don't have any problem with the use of plastic on an iPhone and I don't even care about the discussion which is more durable. What I do care about is that if they hadn't invented the iPhone 5c, the regular iPhone 5 would have been the same price.
In other words: the plastic is fine by me, but there's no other way to justify the pricing than by saying Apple's greed has gone worse. In Europe we don't get iPhones subsidized, we will have to buy it (5c) for €599. In that price range I can have an HTC One, Galaxy S4, Sony Xperia Z, ... These are high end devices, not mid range. So the pricing is wrong, not the plastic!
iPhone 5C is not a premium phone. It looks just cheap!!! When you buy something from apple you expect just more. You expect high quailty materials like aluminium and not a plastic!
We always mocked samsung for making premium phones from plastic and suddenly it is ok ? No...it is not. Thanks god for iPhone 5S
Poly carbonate plastic is good and actually this design and style of the phone gives you a youth-centric feeling while carrying this phone, which actually makes this iPhone a bit different this time.
1, We are all unwittingly taking part in a Marketing Psychology / Gullibility study perpetrated by aliens, or 2, The iPhone 5C exists only convince buyers that the iPhone 5S is a good value- which it is, as it's basically the cost of a 5C plus an OtterBox case and an extra cable or two, vs an iPhone 5S with a $2 monoprice bumper on it.
... screen size. That's it. Apple haters used to be able to quote processor speeds and buzzwords ("Your wife will love the dual-core Tegra chipset"), graphics chip specs, and several other copy-and-paste hardware talking points. And they tried oh so hard to convince themselves and anybody else that SD card slots and removable batteries were actually good things. Were you (gut-check, intervention with love here) one of those people? It's OK to admit it. Not any more. Apple's custom AX chips are now the industry standard. It might take Samsung until next summer to bang out a vanilla 64-bit ARM chip. Without a separate motion co-processor. But the hardware is the easy part. It always is. Just imagine how long it would take to migrate Android and/or Tizen over to a 64-bit architecture. If and when Samsung releases a 64-bit phone, its flavor of Android will be limping along in 32-bit mode. For years and years. So yeah. If what you say is true, then the Apple haters have exactly one year left to talk up any aspect of any Android device's hardware. After that, it will be radio silence. Better to not mention Apple at all. Because when any competitor mentions Apple, they lose. (E.g. Microsoft's pitiful ad campaigns.)
But correcting past mistakes doesn't justify the steep price of the iPhone 5C to me.
Low quality plastic: All Palm devices. Creaked, cracked, easily scratched.
1, faster, new processor
2, faster, new graphics processor
2, increase in display size
3, increase in camera megapixels or features
4, significant improvement year to year in battery life .. the 5C has:
1, last years processor
2, last years graphics processor
3, last years display size & substandard resolution
4, last years 8 megapixel camera with no hardware improvements
5, very tiny improvement in battery performance .. in a colorful plastic box, being sold as a "new phone." Only it's last years' phone. It's not a BAD phone, per se, it's just.. last years' phone. Being sold as a new phone. Because you can buy it in a blue shell. Last years' phone. But it's new, see? Look, I can buy multiple plastic cases from Apple for $29 apiece (Apple's cost, probably $3 each) to make zany color combinations! Why does Ford bother redesigning their best-selling F150 pickup truck every year, with things like EcoBoost engines, entire passenger compartment redesigns, seats, dash, instrument clusters, body sheet metal changes - They could just sell the SAME truck every year, but put different exterior mirrors on it, and change the paint colors they use in their spray booth at the factory - Look, it's the new Ford F-150C! Oh, everything's the same, but you can buy it THIS year in Glacier White, Sky Blue, Safety Red and Sunset Orange! It's the best!
Protect the margins.
It does kinda suck that you don't get the a7 chip though, I'm happier without the fingerprint stuff though. Also, the new motion processor is pretty interesting to me since I make apps as a hobbyist.
Anyways, finally they made another smooth back iphone, so I'd definitely pick the 5c, even though white is the only colour that looks any good, so much for the colourful phone.