iPhone 5C

iPhone 5C #

Since starting this resource, I’ve recieved comments from a lot of people who are not interested in using a dumbphone, but are interested in minimizing their digital footprint. Many people have discussed [dumbing down their smartphones], but one of the things I see rarely discussed is using a smartphone that is no longer in warranty of the maker.

Enter the iPhone 5C, a ten year old device from Apple that they no longer support, but still works on LTE cellular.

The beautiful thing about this is - unlike an old android device, where you could sideload older verisons of apps - Apple makes it near impossible to download older versions of applications from their appstore. What this means is that if you choose to use the 5C, the only functionality you recieve are the apps that come out of the box, on the “outdated” iOS 10 firmware.

This makes it the perfect device for someone who is already primarily in the apple ecosystem, is not interested in leaving, but still wants to reduce their smartphone use.

Purchasing an iPhone 5c #

A device so old, you’re unlikely to find anything new. However, refurbishers in china sell these devices in good condition for unbelievably cheap. I grabbed mine for $30 Canadian dollars with shipping, and it came in great condition with only a few cosmetic case scuffs - and you can find even better condition options for only a few dollars more.

I think this puts the iPhone 5c as the best budget option for those who wish to reduce their smartphone usage, but aren’t ready (or aren’t interested) to commit to a dumbphone.

Out of the Box - What Works? #

In the endless march of innovation, it can be easy to forget just what an older iPhone is capable of, and what it isn’t. There are a lot of apps installed by default, many of which you’ll recognize if your familiar with the Apple ecosystem - but many of them with “reduced” functionality due to the age of the device.

Out of the box, the device is pretty minimal - perfect for our usecase - but I’ve highlighted some differences below.

Music #

You cannot install Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, or any other streaming apps for music.

However, Apple Music is installed by default, and the streaming works really well.

If you are not intestested in streaming with Apple Music, you can of course transfer music to the device via iTunes.

Maps #

The default app for maps is, of course, Apple Maps. You cannot install Google Maps on this device, since the version on the Play Store is incompatible. However, I find Apple Maps to be quite a bit better then its reputation (at least in urban centers) and have used the app to find my way quickly and easily.

As well, you can set it so that your bus routes will show up on your info screen if there is a delay, or other such issue.

Messaging #

the iPhone 5c is still compatible with iMessage, meaning that if you text other iPhone users, your message is end-to-end encrypted (and you have that blue bubble).

SMS and MMS work fine out of the box on 3G and LTE.

Carrier Issues
Some carriers have begun to deprecate features that older phones rely on to send MMS. This means that in some cases, the iPhone 5C will not be able to send pictures or videos to other people not using an iPhone. ie; Android Devices or Dumphones.

Check if your carrier is on the list here.

Email #

the default Mail app is functional with pretty much any normal provider, but cannot, as an example, work with Proton Mail.

Jailbreaking #

I know what your thinking. Yes, the iPhone 5c is technically jailbreakable, but in an extremely limited way compared to earlier (and some later) devices.

Essentially, you will need to re-jailbreak the device upon each reboot to keep it functional, and this means you could accidentally brick your phone if you install a mod that requires root access that it can no longer access on a reboot.

If you’re still interested in pursuing this, try these resources: