iPhone 5c vs. Competition: Budget-Friendly Smartphones Compared

With the new iPhone 5c, Apple is finally offering a budget-friendly smartphone for the masses. But with a price starting at $99 for a 16GB version, the 5c is going to have some stiff competition. A look at the latest handsets to debut at the $99 price point include the HTC One Mini and Motorola Droid Mini, both impressive smartphones in their own right. Then there's the stalwart Samsung Galaxy S III, which, at more than one year old, can also be had for just $99. So how does Apple's wallet-friendly handset compare to the competition?

One of the first things users look for when shopping for a new smartphone is display size. The iPhone 5c, like the iPhone 5 before it, comes with a relatively small 4-inch screen. That said, the iPhone does include an 1136 x 640-pixel Retina Display. The HTC One Mini, on the other hand, includes a larger, higher resolution 4.3-inch, 1280 x 720 Super LCD 2 display. Similarly, the Droid Mini has a 4.3-inch, 1280 x 720 TFT screen.

MORE: Apple iPhone 5s vs Samsung Galaxy S4: What Should You Buy?

The Galaxy S III has the largest display of the group at 4.7 inches, but only has a 1280 x 720 Super AMOLED screen. Unfortunately, the S III's display has to spread the same amount of pixels found on the One Mini and Droid Mini across a larger display, meaning it's screen won't be as sharp as the competition's.

In terms of performance, the iPhone 5c comes with Apple's own A6 processor and 2GB of RAM. The HTC One Mini features a 1.4-GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 2GB of RAM, while the Droid Mini includes Motorola's unique 1.7-GHz dual-core X8 Mobile Computing System and 2GB of RAM. The Galaxy S III, meanwhile comes with a 1.5-GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and 2GB of RAM. 

MORE: iPhone 5s: Full Review

If the camera is a smartphone's most important feature, than you'll be happy to know that the iPhone 5c offers the same shooter found on the iPhone 5. That camera, as you'll recall, won our Smartphone Camera Shootout 2013. The HTC One Mini packs the same Ultrapixel camera its larger sibling has, which just so happened to take second place in our Camera Shootout 2013. The Droid Mini includes a 10-megapixel camera, while the S III features an 8-megapixel shooter.

Of course, what matters most to the majority of smartphone customers is which carrier a smartphone is available on. Just two of our four contenders can be had on each of the Big Four U.S. carriers, the iPhone 5c and the Galaxy S III. The HTC One Mini is only available on AT&T, while the Droid Mini is a Verizon exclusive.

Overall, it looks like the iPhone 5c is more than capable of taking on its budget-friendly competition. To see how well it truly stacks up, however, we'll have to wait until we get our hands on a review unit.

Daniel P. Howley
LAPTOP Senior Writer
A newspaper man at heart, Dan Howley wrote for Greater Media Newspapers before joining Laptopmag.com. He also served as a news editor with ALM Media’s Law Technology News, and he holds a B.A. in English from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.