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What gamers want from the budget iPhone 5C
By Jon Mundy 15 August 2013
Game Name: iPhone 5S | Manufacturer: Apple | Format: iPhone
If internet reports are to be believed, alongside the typical annual iPhone upgrade this year will be a second, decidedly atypical, new iPhone.

Yep, hoity-toity old Apple is finally making a cheap smartphone.

Well, not exactly cheap. The House of Jobs doesn't do cheap. But the iPhone 5C, as this device is widely expected to be called, will make Apple's premium smartphone brand accessible to a whole new category of user.

Of course, there will need to be compromises - chiefly in the form of an all-plastic body, it seems.

But what do gamers want from the iPhone 5C? What's the bare minimum we require from a 2013 Apple phone in order to enjoy the full fruits of the App Store?

Minimum A6 processor

This is undoubtedly the main area of interest for iOS gamers. If we're to consider investing in Apple's affordable iPhone, it needs to be capable of running the latest high-end games - and of continuing to do so over the course of a two-year contract.

Because of that, nothing less than an A6 processor will be good enough for a serious iOS gamer. It's the dual-core processor currently found in the iPhone 5 (and, in a modified form, in the iPad 4), so it's currently the best mobile processor Apple produces.

However, it's also almost a year old, so Apple will be able to produce the chip in a smaller and more cost-efficient form. With the iPhone 5S set to include a new A7 chip, nothing less than the A6 will do in the iPhone 5C.



4-inch display

All leaks up to this point suggest that the iPhone 5C will feature the same 4-inch 16:9 Retina display as was debuted in the iPhone 5.

Even if we hadn't received such snippets of information from the manufacturing line, we'd still be expecting parity. When Apple fundamentally changes one of its standards, it generally does so decisively and swiftly.

To launch a brand-new device with an outdated standard would be most un-Apple-like (no jokes please, Android fans). It would also cause more problems for game developers who have already had to plough resources into adapting their apps from the old 3.5-inch displays.

Indeed, this new display standard has already made its way into a 'cheap' iOS device - just look at the latest iteration of the iPod touch.

Ample storage

One of the first things to drop when a manufacturer makes a cheaper smartphone is internal storage. Memory is one of the costlier components in a mobile device, and also one of the easiest to mess with without changing basic performance.

Indeed, take a look at the cheapest iPhone Apple currently offers. It's simply an iPhone 4 with a reduced amount of internal storage (8GB).

As gamers, we sincerely hope that Apple doesn't give us the same meagre amount with the iPhone 5C. Few things take up as much space on our iPhones as games - not just because we store a lot of them, but because they're complex chunks of code filled with high-res artwork and music and magical whizz-bang levels.

A rich 3D game such as Infinity Blade II takes up more than 1GB of storage space, which would be a massive chunk of an 8GB device's capacity.

So, as gamers we want at least 16GB from the iPhone 5C, though we're not too hopeful.



Sub-£300 price

And so we come to the very reason for the iPhone 5C's soon-to-be existence - affordability by a whole new section of the population.

Up to now, the iPod touch has proved to be the best bet for those looking to get into iOS gaming on the cheap. At £200, it's at that sweet spot for purchasing outright without too much stress.

The iPhone 5C won't be that cheap, but we'd sincerely like to see it occupying the space in between this and the aforementioned iPhone 4 8GB, which retails for £320.

Is this feasible? Most certainly. The iPhone 4 was designed as a premium device, and while it's three years old it's still got some pretty costly components. All that glass and metal and the precise way in which they slot together doesn't come cheap.

The iPhone 5C, by contrast, will have been built from the ground-up to be relatively cheap to manufacture. It's using plastic for the first time since the iPhone 3GS, and as we've suggested its components won't quite be from the premium parts basket.

We're hoping and expecting that a sub-£300 iPhone 5C will bring compromise-free iPhone gaming to the masses, much as the iPad mini achieved with iOS tablet gaming.




Alleged iPhone 5C casing pictures courtesy of Sonny Dickson.
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