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iPhone 5S vs. iPhone 5C: What Buyers Can Expect from Apple



Apple is all but confirmed to be hosting an iPhone event on September 10th where the company is expected, at the very least, to be announcing the iPhone 5S, the successor to the iPhone 5. There are also rumors that suggest that Apple could be announcing an iPhone 5C, a cheaper plastic model that prospective iPhone 5S buyers may have their eye on as well.

Last year, Apple did what Apple typically does. It announced a number iPhone model after an iPhone ‘S’ release in the form of the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 replaced the iPhone 4S and it did so with a redesign, a larger display and 4G LTE data speeds. Prior to the iPhone 5’s arrival, the iPhone had never featured an anodized aluminum back, it had never featured anything other than a 3.5-inch display and it had never offered 4G LTE data speeds.

Read: iPhone 5C Release Date & Rumor Roundup.

The iPhone 5 changed all that and for the past year, it has been sold as Apple’s flagship alongside the $99 iPhone 4S and the iPhone 4 which the company offers free on-contract to consumers.

All three of those devices have life left in them. In the case of the iPhone 5, it will be getting its first major iOS update in the form of iOS, the first of what should be many. The iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 will also be getting iOS 7 though they won’t get all the features. Still, they will live on thanks to Apple’s fantastic software support.

However, it appears that all three of these devices, in one way or another, will be replaced later this year when Apple takes the stage at its annual iPhone launch. Rumors insist that Apple will be introducing not one, but two iPhones later this year, and signs point to an iPhone 5S and an iPhone 5C.

With rumors swirling, consumers are likely thinking about buying one or the other. Here, we take a look at what consumers can expect from the battle between the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C when and if they both touch down.

September 10th Launch Date

Apple still hasn’t confirmed an iPhone launch event for the fall but credible sources point to September 10th as the date that the company has selected for its annual iPhone announcement. The date is all but confirmed to be for the iPhone 5S, the iPhone 5 successor, but there is also speculation that the iPhone 5C, Apple’s low-cost iPhone, could also touch down on that date as well.

If there is an iPhone 5C, and leaks suggest that there is, buyers can expect it to arrive at the iPhone launch event with the iPhone 5S. Apple’s iPhone events revolve around iPhone, not iPad or Mac, and so it would be strange to see the iPhone 5C miss an iPhone-centric event, especially when it has leaked out as much as it has.

Release Dates Few Weeks After

There are rumors that suggest that the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C won’t be released until late October. The delay is based on information that suggests that Apple also had to work on the iPad 5 and a new update to the iPad mini, and that those were pulling the company’s resources thin. This rumor is flimsy at best.

If September 10th is the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C launch date, don’t expect Apple to tag both of them with release dates in late October, more than a month after their launch. With the iPhone, Apple loves to get it out just a few weeks after announcing it while the fire is still hot. We saw it happen with the iPhone 5, the iPhone 4S and so on.

Apple should get its new iPhones out within a few weeks of launch.

Apple should get its new iPhones out within a few weeks of launch.

As we’ve noted, it’s possible that we could see both iPhone models arrive in late September, possibly before September 28th, thanks to Apple’s earnings guidance for Q4 2013.

Apple timed the iPhone 5 release to arrive a week ahead of the end of Q4 2012 which delivered over 5 million iPhone 5 sales in one weekend and led to a 58% increase in iPhone sales year-over year. We could see the same thing happen with the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C release.

At this point, expect September, not October, despite rumors.

iPhone 5C for U.S. Not Clear

The iPhone 5C situation is far murkier than the iPhone 5S’. The device, which is expected to feature a plastic design, lesser MP camera, and cheap price tag was originally thought to be heading to developing markets like China. That’s likely still going to be the case but there is now speculation out there that it could actually replace the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 as Apple’s budget iPhone model.

If that’s the case, then we could see American carriers adopt the device and offer it to compliment both the $199.99 iPhone 5S and $99 iPhone 5. This, of course, isn’t a given.

A grand total of zero carriers have been rumored for the iPhone 5C so it’s impossible to say at this point. However, given carrier willingness to offer the iPhone 4, a device that is three years old, the iPhone 5C has an increasingly good chance of landing in regions like the United States.

Just don’t bet the house on it, at least not yet.

iPhone 5S Better Specs

The iPhone 5C is thought to share at least a few specifications with the iPhone 5S including a 4-inch Retina display, Lightning port and a thin design. However, that’s where the similarities will likely end.

While the iPhone 5S is expected to have a high-end camera sensor, fast processor, and a fingerprint reader for added security, the iPhone 5C is expected to have a lower-grade processor to keep costs down, a 5MP camera or 8MP camera like the iPhone 5, and no fingerprint reader.

What this means is that buyers can expect the better all-around performance to come from the iPhone 5S which should deliver better photos and video, better security and snappier multitasking.

Aluminum vs. Plastic

All along the iPhone 5C has been rumored to be a plastic version of the iPhone and thanks to leaks, it’s looking like those rumors were dead on. Photos and video of the iPhone 5C’s purported back case show a thin, but plastic device whose form factor slightly resembles the iPhone 5’s.

On the other hand, the iPhone 5S is expected to use the same aluminum design as the iPhone 5, a more premium quality build. The iPhone 5 weighs about 112 grams and measures in at 7.1mm thin. The iPhone 5C appears as though it will at least be close to that, meaning, ultimately, it’s going to be up to buyers to decide if they want a plastic or aluminum iPhone.

iOS 7, But Differences

Pigs will fly the day that Apple launches a new mobile product with old software. That is to say, it just won’t happen. Both the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C should have iOS 7 on board in varying degrees.

The iPhone 5S is expected to have at least one unique software feature, similar to the iPhone 4S’ exclusive over Siri. With rumors suggesting a fingerprint reader, it’s likely that it will tie into that somehow.

At the very least, we don’t expect the iPhone 5C to have a fingerprint sensor which means no exclusive feature. And given that the iOS 7 updates for iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 are limited, there is a good chance that it won’t get the full-fledged version of the update heading to devices like the iPhone 5 either.

Rumors also suggest that it may not have Siri, Apple’s personal assistant, possibly thanks to a lesser processor. At the very least, expect differing iOS 7 software.

Storage Options

Consumers should expect some differences when it comes to storage. Typically, Apple’s budget iPhone offerings come with one storage option. In the cases of the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4, that means 16GB and 8GB of storage respectively.

Assuming it does replace those, it seems likely that Apple would drop the iPhone 5 down to 16GB and potentially offer the iPhone 5C with 16GB, 8GB or both. It’s possible that Apple could give it the flagship treatment but that just seems unlikely given its history.

The iPhone 5S on the other hand is rumored to be coming in 128GB form, just like the iPad, though that remains unconfirmed. At the very least, consumers should expect a bundle of storage options from Apple’s new device, something that is less likely to happen with the cheap model.

LTE Possible for iPhone 5C

The plastic iPhone 5C should be cheaper than the iPhone 5S.

The plastic iPhone 5C should be cheaper than the iPhone 5S.

One of the features that has been missing from iPhone 5C rumors is LTE. Apple introduced 4G LTE data speeds, after a long wait, with the iPhone 5 and subsequently released the iPhone 4 and iPad mini with 4G LTE data as well.

It’s assume that any iPhone or iPad going forward will have LTE data though again, LTE rumors have surprisingly been absent from whispers about the iPhone 5C. That doesn’t mean that LTE won’t be on board though.

The iPhone 5C is thought to be aimed at consumers in big markets like China where cheap devices have flooded the markets. And while LTE isn’t exactly as widespread as it is in the United States, China is set to make big LTE stides in the second half of 2013.

Given that China is prepping widespread LTE and given that LTE has become the norm in many countries around the world, it would be surprising to see Apple ditch LTE on the iPhone 5C in favor of something else.

iPhone 5S More Expensive

Buyers should expect the iPhone 5S to be more expensive than the iPhone 5C. Pricing for the iPhone 5S should check in at the usual $199.99 on-contract, a price that Apple has stuck with for years.

The iPhone 5C is thought to cost around $300 off-contract, which would put it on par with the Nexus 4, Google’s current Nexus smartphone that is sold in 8GB for $299 unlocked and 16GB unlocked for $350.

The Nexus 4’s of the world are the devices that the plastic iPhone 5C will be aimed at so it’s no surprise that a cheap price tag is thought to be in the mix. Specifics likely won’t be known until Apple reveals them but buyers need to anticipate the iPhone 5S, Apple’s flagship, being more expensive than the iPhone 5C.

Color Options

If the iPhone 5C is real, then it’s almost certainly going to have several different color options beyond black and white, something that Apple has never offered before. Leaks suggest that there will be a number of different colors including salmon, yellow, green, white and blue.

Read: iPhone 5S Photos Allegedly Show Gold Option, 128GB Appears at Retailer.

What a finished iPhone 5S in gold could look like.

What a finished iPhone 5S in gold could look like. Martin Hajek.

It also looks like Apple may offer a color beyond white and black for the iPhone 5S as well, something that would be a first for Apple’s premium model. The company is heavily rumored to have a gold iPhone 5S up its sleeve with leaks showcasing a back plate with gold coloring. Today’s leak was the first time that we’ve seen the back plate in its entirety and it lends credibility to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo prediction of a gold iPhone 5S.

Either way, it’s looking like 2013 iPhone buyers are going to have more than just white and black options to choose from, a departure from iPhone launches in the past.



  1. Raghu

    08/16/2013 at 6:32 pm

    If they release unlocked version of 5c at the rate of $300, then this would not be called as cheap phone. Because unlocked version of Samsung and other mobiles are starting from $100 ranges.

  2. (@multicorechina)

    08/17/2013 at 2:00 am

    Don’t know what can we expect, but they are already available for pre-order in China (you can dive into our blog and check it out)

    Maybe it has any relation with some Foxconn issues…don’t know, thing are not going as smooth as before in China, massive bubble and the Goober-mint is turning into a more ‘laissez-faire’ mood in terms of economic measures.

    Keep up the good work, really good blog Adam!

  3. Dawg Man

    08/17/2013 at 6:34 am

    I think apple should release the same color options on the 5s as they are doing for the cheap plastic model. I agree the whole white and black thing is become boring. But I really think apple has to push the envelope this year. I’ve had every model apple has sold since day one. I have used 90% off all cell phones out on the market. I keep going back to apple because of there stable operating systems. But ya maybe a blue, a nice bright green HINT HINT apple. I’d pay any premium for those colors to be honest. Keep up the good work apple!!

  4. Ali Eorse

    08/17/2013 at 7:48 am

    Can you at least share some of the differences between current iPhone 5 and the new ones: iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C? Examples: What will be the weight difference between current 5 versus 5S and 5C? What about the size? You miss the critical details. Why?

    • Bob

      08/18/2013 at 4:55 am

      Der, cause it’s not out yet. And no one will know the specs unless your from Apple HQ… That’s what he said rumours for iPhone 5c.

  5. Steve

    08/19/2013 at 3:40 pm

    No bigger screen then I’m switching to Samsung.

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