When Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller introduced Apple’s iPhone 5c Case ($29) in September 2013, he said that Apple believed “customers will get more than one” to “change the look of their iPhone whenever they feel like it.” We’ve heard similar refrains from the company before, including when the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs suggested people would buy multiple iPad Smart Covers, and switch them out in the name of fashion. It was hard to swallow even then, but at least the case is somewhat more substantial this time. Lined with microfiber on the inside, the silicone rubber protector isn’t as good as iPhone 5c cases we’ve already received from third parties, but it’s a more respectable option than we’ve seen from Apple in recent years. We purchased the black version for review; there are also iPhone 5c-matching white, pink, yellow, blue, and green versions available.
The iPhone 5c Case doesn’t offer a lot in terms of surprises: for the most part, it’s a simple but respectable protector. Thin and light, it’s easy to flex when it’s not installed. The materials aren’t premium, but they’re fine choices: microfiber on the inside provides a soft surface for the plastic back of the iPhone 5c to rest against, while the soft-touch rubber slides in and out of a pocket without too much friction, although it will attract dust.
Once the iPhone is inside, the case’s front edge rises up above the level of the display. It doesn’t actually curl over to protect the seam between the glass and the plastic, but it’s high enough to allow the handset to be placed face down on a flat surface without the display making contact.
Apple understands that the way a button feels is important, so it’s not surprising to find that its case has proper button coverage that doesn’t reduce the click response in any way. The raised Sleep/Wake and volume buttons can easily be found by feeling around, and are shaped in such a way that they click just right. Along the bottom, the port openings are just as accurate. One hole provides tight access to the headphone port and microphone, another to the Lightning port, and then there are four small holes for the speaker. Although the Lightning opening is large enough to accept third-party plugs, the case prevents docking with Apple’s iPhone 5c Dock, or almost any others.
And then there are those holes. Five columns and seven rows totaling 35 holes, each 5/16” in diameter. Apple says “the circle pattern draws focus to the color underneath, creating 30 fun combinations.” While that may be true, the holes are ultimately a design decision we simply can’t get behind. They unquestionably make the case less protective; more of the plastic shell is exposed than is necessary. The aesthetics are more open to debate. We understand why Apple would want to give iPhone users to the chance to show off their colorful devices, but the placement of the holes is ill-considered—they start low enough to leave room for an embossed Apple logo—and the look has drawn unfavorable comparisons to Crocs sandals. There’s also the matter of the the partially covered text; you’ll be able to see the “hon” in iPhone, and some regulatory information. It’s just kind of sloppy.
The right way to show off the iPhone 5c’s bright colors is a transparent or translucent material, not holes in what could otherwise be considered a good case. It’s just not aesthetically pleasing, and the benefit of showing off the color doesn’t outweigh the downside of leaving material exposed. Otherwise, though, Apple put together a respectable case, at a price that’s not objectionable. Most people will be better off with a third-party option, but if the holes appeal to you, it’s not a bad choice given the price, earning Apple’s iPhone 5c Case a limited recommendation.
Company and Price
Company: Apple Inc.
Model: iPhone 5c Case
Compatible: iPhone 5c