iPhone 5s vs iPhone 5c: What to Buy?

The iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c are two new iPhones sold by Apple that many shoppers compare when they walk into the store to buy a new iPhone in 2014.

At first glance the two iPhones appear similar enough, but the $100 price difference between the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5s should tell consumers that there are a number of differences worth comparing.

The iPhone 5c is a plastic phone that Apple sells in five colors for $99 on a two-year contract, but discounts push the iPhone 5c price below $50 on a fairly regular basis. The iPhone 5s offers a flagship experience complete with a metal body and new features as well as a higher price tag that starts at $199 on contract, but drops by $50 or so on a regular basis.

Read: iPhone 5s Review

Figuring out how the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c compare is tough for many shoppers because descriptions often say the iPhone 5c is an iPhone 5 in a plastic shell. This is true, but it doesn’t fully explain the iPhone 5s vs iPhone 5c comparison that savvy shoppers will make before buying a new iPhone in 2014.

If you need a new iPhone, here is a look at the iPhone 5s vs iPhone 5c.

If you need a new iPhone, here is a look at the iPhone 5s vs iPhone 5c.

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There are enough iPhone 5s features that are not available on the iPhone 5c to warrant spending the extra money on the iPhone 5s for many shoppers. But, if you need to save money and are looking at buying the iPhone 5c, this guide will explain what is missing from the iPhone 5c that allows Apple to sell the iPhone 5c that much cheaper.

Of course it is also worth considering the iPhone 6 release is likely coming later in 2014 and could offer a bigger screen and other features, so it may be worth waiting for that iPhone before buying. If you can’t wait for an unannounced iPhone, here’s what you need to know about the iPhone 5c vs iPhone 5s to get the iPhone that is best for you.

Design

The iPhone 5s is made of aluminum while the iPhone 5c is made of plastic. This simple statement is the biggest difference in terms of design, but there is more to consider.

The iPhone 5c design is plastic and it comes in many colors.

The iPhone 5c design is plastic and it comes in many colors.

iPhone 5c owners can enjoy a greater range of colors without using a case and some people prefer the feel of plastic as it feels less like something that can scratch. The iPhone 5 scratched very easily, but the iPhone 5s is much more resilient with few scratches showing even when used without a case for months.

The iPhone 5s is thinner and lighter than the iPhone 5c by about 1mm and half an ounce. This is not a difference that should sway most shoppers, but it is worth mentioning.

The iPhone 5s is available in three colors with an aluminum body.

The iPhone 5s is available in three colors with an aluminum body.

Shoppers that want a white, yellow, blue, green or pink iPhone can only choose the iPhone 5c, unless they want to buy a case for the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5s is available in silver, Space Gray and Gold. There is no premium charge for any colors.

Screen

The screen on the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c is exactly the same, It is a 4-inch Retina Display with a 1136 x 640 resolution and 326 pixels per inch.

The screens on the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c are the same.

The screens on the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c are the same.

This is good news as it is one less thing to consider when buying an iPhone 5c or iPhone 5s. Despite the $100 price difference both phones offer a very nice looking display.

The iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c displays are smaller and lower resolution than the Galaxy S4 and HTC One that shoppers may see in the store. Rumors suggest an iPhone 6 will deliver a larger, higher resolution display in 2014.

Camera

The biggest difference between the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s is the camera. Both of the phones use an 8MP iSight camera, but the iPhone 5s is a clear winner in features.

In everyday photography both cameras deliver good-looking photos with a fast shutter than can capture a quick smile on your kid or the goofy grin on a pet before it becomes a blur of action.

The iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c cameras are not equal.

The iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c cameras are not equal.

The iPhone 5s does a better job of capturing true to life colors than the iPhone 5c, but users can correct some of this with an editing app. When taking photos in your house in dim light without a flash the iPhone 5s will produce a better photo than the iPhone 5c 9 times out of 10 with less noise or the grainy look some cameras deliver.

If you enjoy taking panorama photos the iPhone 5s is highly recommended as it does a better job of not blowing out parts of the sky or water, creating a more even exposure and look across the entire photo.

Flash

Apple includes a new True Tone dual LED flash on the iPhone 5s that along with the Apple A7 processor is able to flash with a tone that matches the environment for a better looking photo. The iPhone 5c uses a single LED flash like the iPhone 5. If you need to use the flash in many of your photos indoors or at night the iPhone 5s does a better job and is again worth the higher price.

The iPhone 5s camera includes a dual-LED flash.

The iPhone 5s camera includes a dual-LED flash.

Slow Motion and Burst Mode

The iPhone 5s is capable of recording slow motion videos at 120 frames per second that can showcase motion or action in fun ways. This feature is not available on the iPhone 5c.

The iPhone 5s can also take 10 photos per second when holding the shutter button and identify the best looking photos as well. The iPhone 5c cannot do this, taking a burst photos at a much slower rate.

iPhone 5s vs iPhone 5c Features

There are several additional features that separate the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. With the major features listed above and these smaller items picking between the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s should be much easier.

Touch ID

The iPhone 5s ships with Touch ID, a fingerprint sensor built-in to the iPhone 5s’ home button. Users can register five fingers with this to unlock the iPhone without entering a pass code. This is not available on the iPhone 5c in any fashion. Owners can also use this in place of an iTunes password to buy apps, though they will still need to enter a password occasionally.

Unlock the iPhone 5s with a fingerprint.

Unlock the iPhone 5s with a fingerprint.

Storage

The iPhone 5c is available with 16GB or 32GB of storage which is adequate for many users, but if you need a lot of storage the iPhone 5s is the only option. The iPhone 5s comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models. There is no easy way to add more storage, though there are some options for adding storage for movies or large files. If you need more storage but don’t have a lot of money, a 32GB iPhone 5c may be a better value than the 16GB iPhone 5s.

Motion CoProcessor

The iPhone 5s includes not only a faster 64-bit Apple A7 processor, but also a Motion Coprocessor called the M7 processor. This chip allows the iPhone to track motion and movement similar to how a fitness band would and pass it on to a Nike app or to many other M7 enabled apps for enhanced fitness tracking.

Long Term Support

The iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c arrived in the same year which is a good sign for long-term support, but the iPhone 5c is essentially an iPhone 5, which means it may not see iOS updates and new features for as long as the iPhone 5c which uses a more advanced processor. If you plan to keep the iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c for more than two years the iPhone 5s is a better choice as it will certainly perform better at three years out than the iPhone 5c will.

The iPhone 5c is cheaper, but the iPhone 5s may be worth the price for many users.

The iPhone 5c is cheaper, but the iPhone 5s may be worth the price for many users.

Price

Ultimately the price of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c may be the biggest deciding factor for users, but it is a good idea to buy based on features and if need be save up for an extra month or two before upgrading. The growing number of iPhone deals and monthly payment plans also help negate the price difference. Here are the prices for the iPhone 5s vs iPhone 5c on contract and off.

  • iPhone 5c 16GB – $99 ($549)
  • iPhone 5c 32GB -¬†$199 ($649)
  • iPhone 5s 16GB – $199 ($649)
  • iPhone 5s 32GB – $299 ($749)
  • iPhone 5s 64GB – $399 ($849)

Users can normally find a plethora of deals on the 16GB iPhone 5c and 16GB iPhone 5s that drop the price by $50 to $75 or include some sort of gift card that drops the price. These deals arrive at least once a month and sometimes T-Mobile even offers discounts that help bring down the monthly payments for the iPhones.

Should I Buy the iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c?

There is no one perfect iPhone for every user, but the iPhone 5s is a better device with enough features to justify the higher price for most users. If you take photos primarily with your iPhone and plan to keep it for longer than two years spend the extra money to get the iPhone 5s.

If you don’t need the best camera, want a more colorful iPhone and plan to upgrade again in two years the iPhone 5c is a very capable phone that delivers an iPhone experience in a more affordable package.

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Comments

  1. Larry says

    The 5s is more but 5c is basically a iPhone 5 it’s got the a6 chip and only 32 gb mine is 64 gb in gold 5s this is a no brainer a 5c is for a low budget and it’s plastic!! Stupid post!!!

  2. justin says

    iphone 5c would be for the younger kids and teens who want to have a colorful phone that’s fast and fluid for a budget price whereas the iphone 5s is geared towards older, more mature people.

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