When a new device comes out, it’s only natural to compare it to its immediate predecessor: Does this thing do something new the last thing couldn’t do? It’s a measuring stick, a way to put the new device into context. And when we’re talking iPhones, it’s a perfectly standard practice.
But I think that comparing the iPhone 5c only to the model it replaces would be a mistake.
In part that's because the 5c so closely matches the specs and features of its predecessor, last year’s iPhone 5. (Apple’s other 2013-model phone, the iPhone 5s, received the more compelling feature upgrades.) But it’s also because of how people buy smartphones in an era of two-year commitments to carriers. If you signed away 24 months of your life to the likes of AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint last fall for an iPhone 5, a color change and an improved front-facing camera probably aren't enough to get you to reevaluate things one spin around the sun later.