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Goophone i5C review: attack of the clone

The Goophone i5C tries to clone Apple's colorful smartphone and even has a tweaked version of Android that behaves like iOS. But what is it like to use? Find out in this full review.
By
December 3, 2013
goophone 5c on box
Before actually getting my hands on the Goophone i5C I knew that it was designed to look like an iPhone 5C but I didn’t realize just how much the Goophone tries to mimic Apple’s colorful smartphone. The supplier I used sent me a model which included a very real looking iPhone 5C box with an Apple like instruction leaflet. The device itself even includes an Apple logo on the back! There are of course legal ramifications to Goophone’s blatant copying but that is not my department! What I can tell you is what the phone is like to use.

Just like its Apple counterpart the Goophone i5C features a 4 inch display but with a resolution of 480 x 854 (compared to 1136 x 640 for the real thing). It comes with a dual-core 1.2 GHz MediaTek MTK6572 that includes a Mali-400 MP GPU, 512 MB of memory, 8GB of internal storage and a 8 MP camera. As for the price, you can probably pick one up for around $120 plus postage and taxes.

At the heart of the i5C is the MediaTek MTK6572, a dual-core A7 processor designed for low-end 3G devices. Cortex-A7 cores are becoming increasingly popular, especially for chip makers like MediaTek and Rockchip, and they have basically replaced the Cortex-A9 cores at the bottom of the market. Here are the full specs of the Goophone i5C:

  • 4 inch, 480×854 pixels display
  • MTK6572 Dual Core 1.2Ghz CPU with Mali-400 MP GPU
  • Android 4.2.2
  • 2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
  • 3G: WCDMA 2100/850MHz
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 8 GB of internal storage
  • 8 MP rear facing camera
  • 1.2 MP front facing camera
  • GPS
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • 1500 mAh battery
  • Weight 132g

The phone only comes with 8GB of internal storage that is divided into 2GB phone storage and 6GB external storage. This can be a problem for larger apps or games as they simply won’t fit into the 2GB of phone storage. It is apparently possible to install a microSD card but you need to undo some screws and take off the back. The card slot is only accessible under the internal battery.

The display itself is reasonable considering its very low (by 2013/2014 standards) resolution. It isn’t clear from the specifications if it is an IPS display, however the good viewing angle would seem to imply that it is. Also the color reproduction is quite good for such a budget device.

goophone 5c lightning adapter

The phone chargers via a USB cable, but unlike most Android smartphones there isn’t a micro USB port at the phone end, but rather something that looks suspiciously like a Lighting adapter. I don’t have any Apple devices that use a Lightning adapter so I can’t confirm the compatibility but it certainly looks like one, even if it actually isn’t!

goophone 5c launcher
Although the phone runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and includes Google Play, the launcher has been heavily modified to look like iOS. This isn’t simply a case of a standard replacement launcher with an iOS skin, the launcher has been tampered with to make it look and feel like iOS. There is no App Draw button, no navigation bar and no soft buttons. The physical round button at the bottom of the device acts as a “Back” button and not as a “Home” button as you might expect. This means that once you are in an app the only way out of it is to keep pressing back until the app exits and takes you to the home screen.

This can be very annoying especially when you have gone deep into an app. There are two workarounds for this. First the phone comes with the EasyTouch app installed by default. This app puts a dot on the screen that functions in a similar way to Apple’s AssistiveTouch feature. If you press the dot you get access to a number of commands including a “Home” button. The other way is to double click the hardware button to access the task manager. From here tapping on the background takes you back to the home screen.

Another app that comes pre-installed is an iOS control-center clone. By swiping up from the bottom of the screen you get access to the control-center which allows you  to change the screen brightness, enable airplane mode, change the volume, use the flash as a torch and so on. Oddly enough swiping from the top of the screen reveals the standard Android 4.2 notification area where you can also change the screen brightness and enable airplane mode etc.

Although the default GUI looks like iOS when you install other apps their icons look out of place and often the transparency around the icons don’t work. This means that you get odd colors around icons for apps installed from Google Play. Also there was a few times when the colors clashed between dialog boxes and the current color scheme. This meant that you could get a dialog with dark text on a dark background.

goophone 5c bad GUI examples
Examples of a bad GUI – Left: Icon color clashes. Right: Dark text on a dark background.

Yet another problem with the default launcher is that you can’t install any widgets… which I guess is just like iOS!!!

The settings app has also be re-written to look like the settings app in iOS. This means that it can be a bit hard to find things, especially if you are used to stock Android. One odd omission seems to be a way to set the screen timeout. I must have searched the settings three or four times but I couldn’t find where to change the timeout. In the end I installed a third party app which allowed me to do it!

The device supports Google Play and although hardly any of the official Google apps like Gmail and YouTube etc are pre-loaded, it is possible to install then from Google Play. Talking of Google Play, it isn’t installed as Google Play, instead it hides under the “App Store” icon which looks like Apple’s icon for its iTunes App Store but in fact it starts the Play Store!

In terms of compatibility most apps installed without any problems, however Epic Citadel crashes when run and big games like Asphalt 8: Airborne won’t install as the internal memory is partitioned in such a way that there isn’t space for the download! However smaller games like CSR Racing installed and worked without any problems as did classics like Angry Birds and Temple Run 2. To uninstall an app you need to long press on its icon until all the icons start wiggling and then press the X at the corner of the icon. This will then trigger the normal Android uninstall process.

It is possible to get a more Android like experience by installing an alternative launcher however I couldn’t find a way to get the soft keys back which means you need to rely on the EasyTouch app or the task manger for navigation even when using an Android launcher.

goophone 5c ports
The MediaTek MTK6572 manages to score 10846 on AnTuTu which is very good considering some quad-core MediaTek based phones score around 13000! In terms of benchmarks the Goophone i5C is faster than the ThL W1, which is powered by a MediaTek 1GHz dual-core Cortex A9 based MT6577 and scored just 6436 on AnTuTu. The i5C’s launcher isn’t the best bit of software around and sometimes it did seem to lag and stutter, but when using other standard Android apps the phone felt fluid and very usable.

The i5C includes an 8MP camera which takes reasonable pictures. The main problem seems to be that the shutter sound plays too quickly and before the actual photo has been taken. The result is that all my early attempts were blurred as I started to move the phone after the shutter sound but before the picture was actually taken. After I learned to wait another second or two after the shutter sound then the pictures improved!

Here is a sample of some pictures I took with the phone:

goophone 5c camera2
goophone 5c camera3
goophone 5c camera1

The phone has all the standard connectivity options like Wi-Fi ( 802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.0 (but not Bluetooth 4.0), 2G GSM and 3G. It doesn’t have NFC nor does it support LTE but for only $120 that isn’t to be expected!

There is one nano SIM card slot which like the iPhone 5C is accessible via a tray on the right hand edge of the phone. To open the tray you need to poke the provided SIM eject tool into the small hole next to the tray.

For 3G the phone only supports 850 and 2100MHz.  The latter number is the standard 3G frequency and should work in most places around the world (except the USA), however a lot of carriers also use a secondary 3G spectrum range. In Asia and South America the carriers often use 850MHz, as supported by the i5C, while in Europe it tends to be 900MHz. You need to check with your carrier to ensure compatibility.

I compared the Wi-Fi signals strengths of the i5C with other Android devices using the free “Wifi Analyzer” app and the phone performed just as well as the other devices (which included a Nexus 7) and I was able to access the Internet from all around the house and outside without any problems.

Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the phone’s GPS. No matter how hard I tried I was unable to get a GPS lock using the phone. In fact, various GPS testing apps couldn’t even see a single satellite – let alone the five or more needed to get a fix. In real terms the phone needs to be treated like it doesn’t have GPS.

The i5C includes a non-user removable 1500 mAh battery. Unfortunately I don’t have a nano-SIM card to test the talk time, however the advertised 2G talk time is around 5 hours. In a video test the device could play a video file from the internal storage for about 6 hours on one charge. Using Wi-Fi the phone can stream content from YouTube for about 4 hours before needing a recharge. This means that you will likely get a full day out of the battery but only with light use.

Before passing judgement on this phone it is worth noting that there seems to be several different models available. Some resellers offer the device with a 2000 mAh battery, some sites say it only has a 5 MP camera and so on. Is this just bad marketing or are they actually different variations of this device? It is hard to tell.

As a phone the Goophone i5C is not very good. Because it tries to mimic the iPhone 5C it is really a mashed together hybrid that fails on several key points. The GPS doesn’t work, the launcher is sometimes hard to use and the camera makes the shutter sound too early. There are better low-end Android phones available that don’t suffer from these problems.

Having said that, if you want an iPhone 5C clone then this is a pretty good attempt. It looks like an iPhone 5C and it will easily fool the uninitiated. If looking like you own an expensive phone is more important than the overall user experience that the Goophone i5C is the perfect device for you!