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iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C: What's the difference?

Tom Morgan
11 Sep 2013
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Now that the dust has settled, we compare Apple's latest iPhones to see which is right for you - the flagship iPhone 5S or plastic iPhone 5C

It's the morning after the night before, and Apple's two new iPhones have been fully revealed. On the surface, one's more colourful and made of plastic while the other is sleeker and made from metal, but what are the differences underneath? We compare specifications to help you decide which one is right for you.

DESIGN

The iPhone 5s should look familiar to iPhone 5 owners, as it hasn't really changed bar the three new colour choices. Whereas the old model was available in either black or white, the iPhone 5s comes in slate grey, silver or gold. The gold colour has more of a champagne hue to avoid looking overly tacky. Regardless of colour, each handset it built from glass and aluminium, with new laser-cut edges which give it a premium appearance.
Dimensions: 123.8x58.6x7.6mm (4.87x2.31x0.3in)
Weight: 112g (3.95oz)

iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C

The iPhone 5c, meanwhile, uses polycarbonate plastic to keep manufacturing costs down. Underneath the outer shell is a steel-reinforced frame, which should give the handset the kind of rigidity not normally seen in a plastic smartphone. It's not nearly as rounded or bulbous as previous plastic iPhones have been, although it is still thicker than the iPhone 5s. The front is still made from glass. It's available in green, blue, yellow, pink and white colours, with a range of both contrasting and complimentary cases available directly from Apple.
Dimensions: 124.4x59.2x8.97mm (4.9x2.33x0.35in)
Weight: 132g (4.65oz)

iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C

DISPLAY

Both the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c have the same 4in diagonal "retina-class" display seen in the iPhone 5. Apple has frequently said there's no point adding more pixels without increasing screen size, as you can't see individual pixels from an average viewing distance, so you'll get the same screen quality from both phones.
Screen size: 4in diagonal
Resolution: 1,136x640
Pixel density 326ppi
contrast ratio:800:1

iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C

PERFORMANCE

The iPhone 5c re-uses the Apple A6 processor last seen in the iPhone 5. It's a dual-core chip running at 1.3GHz, paired with 1GB of RAM and a triple-core PowerVR SGX 543MP3 graphics chip. It's roughly twice as fast as the A5 processor used in the iPhone 4s. It's available with either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage.

The iPhone 5s is powered by the latest A7 CPU. It's still a dual-core chip, but runs at a faster 1.7GHz and is 64-bit, to take advantage of the 64-bit version of iOS 7. According to Apple, it's roughly twice as fast again as the A6 processor, and is paired with the M7 motion coprocessor to take accelerometer and gyroscope duties away from the main CPU. As well as 16GB and 32GB models, there's also a 64GB variant available.

If you're after the best performance from an Apple smartphone, the iPhone 5S is the clear winner.

SECURITY

The iPhone 5c continues Apple's original approach to security, with a choice of password or passcode to lock the handset. It's basic, and if you aren't careful your fingerprints can show would-be criminals where to press to unlock your phone. You also need to enter an iTunes password every time you want to buy apps or content from the iTunes or App stores.

iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C

The iPhone 5s goes one step further with Touch ID. It's a fingerprint sensor built into the home button that can unlock your handset and confirm your identity when prompted for logins or passwords - assuming Apple allows specific apps access to the feature.

Touch ID is still unproven in terms of apps, but for locking your phone it's a clear step forward from a simple password. Another win for the iPhone 5s.

CAMERA

Apple has made the smallest of changes to the iPhone 5c camera. It keeps the same 8-megapixel, backside illuminated (BSI) sensor, ƒ/2.4 aperture and LED flash as the iPhone 5, but upgrades the camera lens to sapphire crystal to prevent scratches.

iPhone 5S - new iSight camera

For the iPhone 5s, however, Apple has pulled out all the stops. Although the number of pixels stays the same (8-megapixels), it uses larger 1.5 micron pixels to take in more detail in low-light conditions. It's paired with a wider ƒ/2.2 aperture and sapphire crystal lens. Finally, the twin LED flash uses "True Tone" LEDs to adjust white balanced based on lighting conditions. One LED fires cool white light while the second fires warmer amber - the combination should result in more natural looking images.

CONCLUSION

Was there ever any doubt that Apple wouldn't put its best new technology in its flagship phone? The iPhone 5s clearly has more features than the iPhone 5c, but it also costs more - £549 for the basic 16GB model compared to £469 for the 16GB iPhone 5c. That's SIM-free, of course, so the networks may make it cheaper, but right now you'll have to pay a considerable premium to get the newest features.

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