Cracking Open the Apple iPhone 5CBill Detwiler cracks open the iPhone 5C and reveals the upgrades and design changes that make it more than just an iPhone 5 with a plastic case.
The iPhone 5C has the same processor, rear camera, and retina display as last year's iPhone 5. But Apple didn't just slap a series of colorful plastic cases on an old phone. On the inside, the 5C is a new device with hardware upgrades and design elements from both the 5 and the new 5S. I'm Bill Detwiler and this is Cracking Open. On the outside, it's the iPhone 5C's colorful polycarbonate cases that really set the phone apart from the 5 and the 5S. And thanks to this case, it's also slightly longer, wider, thicker, and a bit heavier than the other two phones. But peel back the case and the 5C reveals itself to be a unique device which borrows traits from both the other phones. Now, one thing that all three phones share is how you crack them open. Using a special Pentalobe screwdriver, remove the two external screws. Then, using a suction cup, lift up on the front panel and display assembly from the bottom. You may also need to use a few thin tools to pop loose the panel. Unlike the new 5S, there's no ribbon cable connecting the Home button to the lower connector assembly, just a series of connectors at the top. And once you detach them, you can completely remove the panel. The 5C shares the same general hardware layout as the iPhone 5 and 5S, but there are both differences and similarities. Now, first, the 5C has a slightly higher capacity battery than the 5, but a lower capacity battery than the 5S. Unlike the 5S, it lacks the battery removal pull-tab found on the 5. Now, second, the 5C's camera is covered with a metal bracket. The 5 has no bracket and the 5S's camera is covered with a rubber flap. Now, third, while the 5C may have the same A6 processor as last year's iPhone 5, the main system board has the same general design as the 5S. Notice the connector and metal shields layout. One bit of 5C hardware that is more like its counterpart on the 5 than the 5S is the external speaker and the lower connector assembly. Now, this isn't surprising given the 5S's new fingerprint reading Home button. Now, turning our attention to the front panel assembly, all three phones have the same retina display, but like the 5S, the 5C hasn't upgraded FaceTime camera and redesigned screen connectors. The Home button and its pressure contacts are more like those on the iPhone 5. As I did during my iPhone 5S teardown, I'm going to leave the battery in place as I remove the other components. I am, however, going to disconnect it from the main system board before doing anything else. Now, with the battery safely disconnected, I'm going to detach the remaining main board connectors, remove several screws and standoffs, and finally, lift out the board. Unfortunately, like the boards in the 5 and 5S, the EMI/RFI shields are soldered in place. As I want to put this phone back together in working order, I'm only to leave the shields alone. Next to come out is the 8-megapixel rear-facing camera. Unfortunately, the external speaker, lightning connector, and headphone jack are all part of the same component assembly. Unlike the vibration motor, flash, and a bevy of connector wires running throughout the case, they're held in place with both screws and adhesive. If any of these components were damaged, removing and replacing them is possible, but I don't want to risk damaging them during removal. So, I'm going to leave them in place. I'm glad Apple took the opportunity to not just give the iPhone 5C a new case, but also upgrade the phone's hardware and tweak its internal design. And while it's still no walk in the park to crack open, the 5C is no more difficult to work on than either the 5 or the 5S. Now, for complete list of specs, pricing, and real world performance test, check out Scott Stein's full CNET review and to see more teardown photos and read my full hardware analysis, go to TechRepublic.com/cracking open. I'm Bill Detwiler. Thanks for watching.