Two new iPhones in one year is an unprecedented move for Apple, and it surely will give rise to quite a few questions. How do the two differ? Are they both upgrades over the iPhone 5? We compare all three models to get to the bottom of the matter.
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iPhone 5S vs. iPhone 5C vs. iPhone 5

For the first time in the short history of Apple’s smartphone endeavors, the company has introduced two new iPhone models at the same time. This unprecedented move is sure to raise a few questions. How does the iPhone 5S differ from the iPhone 5C? Are both upgrades over the iPhone 5? Let’s take a closer look and see how all three models stack up.

iphone-5-iphone-5c-iphone-5s

Display

This is the easiest point of comparison among the three handsets. Last year’s iPhone 5, and the newly announced iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C all feature identical Retina displays measuring in at 4 inches. They each sport a display resolution of 1136 x 640. Add it all up and we are left with a pixel density of 326 ppi.

In other words, the displays of the next-gen iPhone models should offer little to no advantage over the currently available iPhone 5. Having said that, the iPhone’s Retina display has consistently been one of the best on a mobile device in recent years, and Apple had little incentive to upgrade here. Yes, a true HD option would have been nice, but we might not see that until Apple decides to upgrade to a larger display size.


Processor

In terms of processing power, there will be little difference between the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C. The latter phone is more or less the former repackaged in a plastic shell. Both devices utilize Apple’s A6 processing platform. There are some minor system and software tweaks that could see the 5C outperform the 5 slightly, but without running any real world tests we can’t know for sure. Apple has made no claims on the matter thus far.

A7-Chip

(Image credit: The Verge)

The iPhone 5S, on the other hand, is a different beast altogether. The top-tier smartphone will ship with Apple’s A7 processing platform, which utilizes 64-bit architecture, a first for any iPhone device. iOS 7 has been optimized for the chip, which packs over 1 billion transistors into a package that is no larger than the previous A6 chip. In terms of performance, it’s 40 times faster than the original iPhone.

The iPhone 5S also features a separate M7 chip to aid the A7 in it’s duties. The M7 is mostly concerned with processing information from motion sensors like the accelerometer, compass, and gyroscope found on board.

As you might have guessed, the iPhone 5S will be a true performance powerhouse, while the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5 aren’t slouching either. There is a reason, however, that the 5S will come at a premium price.


Camera

All three iPhone models utilize an 8MP camera, but they are by no means identical. The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5C again share the same component, an 8MP sensor capable of 1080p video recording with an f/2.4 aperture and LED flash. The 5C should reproduce images to the same caliber as the iPhone 5, which has been one of the best mobile shooters on the market over the past year.

Apple-iSight-camers

Again, the iPhone 5S is something else altogether in this department. Yes, the megapixel rating is the same, but the individual pixels are larger. The camera features an f/2.2 aperture and True Tone flash. That flash uses multiple LED bulbs to smartly adjust lighting. Oh, the camera is also capable of 120fps Slo-Mo video and a new Burst Mode that can smartly choose the best picture from a group of many consecutive shots.

No surprise here: the iPhone 5S is easily superior to the other options, and the iPhone 5C won’t act as a true upgrade over the iPhone 5 if you already own one. Noticing a pattern?


Build

iPhone-5-c

Here is one area where the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5 share the most in common, while the iPhone 5C takes a bit of a departure. While all three devices are more or less the same size (the iPhone 5C is a wee bit chunkier), the 5 and 5S are comprised of premium materials including high-quality aluminum. The iPhone 5C is mostly made of plastic.

iphone-5s-colors

The iPhone 5 and 5S measure in at an identical 4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 inches, while the iPhone 5C measures in at 4.9 x 2.33 x 0.35 inches. The iPhone 5C is also a bit heavier at 4.65 ounces compared to the 3.95 ounces of the other models.


Sensors

All three phones feature a similar compliment of sensors, including a three-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, and ambient light sensor. The biggest difference again goes to the iPhone 5S, which includes a ‘fingerprint identity sensor,’ dubbed Touch ID by Apple.

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This fingerprint sensor is embedded in the Home buttons, and Touch ID allows users to program their device to only unlock when the correct print is scanned. The functionality will also be tied into other parts of iOS, like authorizing App Store purchases. It’s perhaps the biggest addition to the iPhone 5S, and it packs plenty of ‘cool’ factor to go with it.


Battery

Apple rarely clarifies exact battery figures, but both the iPhone 5S and 5C are claimed to feature increased battery life over the iPhone 5.  Both new devices claim up to 10 hours of talk time and 10 hours of 4G LTE use. The iPhone 5 only claimed 8 hours of use. Standby time increases from 225 hours to 250 hours.

Intrepid tech enthusiasts have scoured FCC documentation and calculate that the iPhone 5C has a 5 percent larger battery than the iPhone 5, and the iPhone 5S has a battery that is 10 percent larger. This would put the 5C’s battery somewhere around 1500mAh and the 5S’ battery close to 1570mAh. The iPhone 5 features a 1440mAh battery.


Pricing and Color Options

With different feature sets come different pricing models, and that’s exactly why Apple chose to introduce two new iPhone models this year. Making the decision easier for a new buyer, the iPhone 5 will be discontinued (though likely still available until stock runs out, perhaps at a discount from it’s current $199 price tag). Replacing the 5? You guessed it, the iPhone 5C.

The iPhone 5C will take up the $99* mantle (16GB) and will be available in five color options: white, pink, yellow, blue, and green. A 32GB model is priced at $199. The iPhone 5S is priced at $199 for a 16GB model, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for a whopping 64GB. It will be available in silver, space gray (replacing the black of the iPhone 5), and, for the first time, gold.  The iPhone 5 comes in white/silver and black variants, but as stated earlier, it will soon be off the market.

*reflects on-contract pricing


Which should you buy?

This is the question everyone will be asking. Which phone is worth the money? The short answer is that there is no correct answer. If you recently upgraded to the iPhone 5, there is little reason to get an iPhone 5C. An iPhone 5S? Depends on how much you crave the faster processor, better camera, and Touch ID capabilities.

Now, deciding between the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S is another matter, but again comes down to how much you desire the advanced features of the latter. If bright color options and a lower price are appealing and top of the line specs don’t matter as much, the 5C could be a great choice.

And on top of all this Apple will still offer the iPhone 4S free with a wireless contract. Decisions, decisions. Which will you be getting?

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