We've spent lots of time with the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, both of which are excellent smartphones but with some significant differences. The iPhone 5S is Apple's flagship model, so it's got better specs and features than the iPhone 5C, but the iPhone 5C has a lower price tag and some rather bright colour options. Read on to explore the differences between Apple's two newest iPhones. See also: iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S launch: as it happened. See also: iPhone 5C review.
iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C: UK price
If you're after an iPhone 5S, pricing starts at £549 in VAT in the UK for the 16GB model. The 36GB flavor will set you back £629 in VAT, and the 64GB iPhone 5S is a whopping £709 inc VAT.
The plastic-backed iPhone 5C comes in at a lower price, but still not as low as many had hoped and expected, starting at £429 inc VAT for the 8GB model. It's £469 inc VAT for the 16GB model, and £529 inc VAT for the 32GB model, so actually only £80 cheaper than the equivalent iPhone 5S models.
For comparison purposes, the now retired iPhone 5 used to cost as follows: 16GB = £529, 32GB = £599, and 64GB £699, so Apple's upped the price of its flagship. (See also: iPhone 5C UK price and iPhone 5S price in the UK.)
iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C: processor
Here's where things get really interesting. The iPhone 5S is the first 64-bit smartphone. It comes with an A7 chip with 64-bit architecture, which is also used in Apple's iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display. The processor runs at 1.3GHz, and is a dual-core processor paired with 1GB of RAM.
According to Apple, the A7 processor provides twice the CPU and graphics performance of its predecessor, the A6 chip, which is the processor you'll find in the iPhone 5C and also powered the iPhone 5. In fact, the iPhone 5C is basically just the iPhone 5 with a new coat (which we'll talk more about later), but thankfully the iPhone 5 was already fast for a premium smartphone.
The iPhone 5S also has what Apple calls an M7 motion coprocessor, a feature that the iPhone 5C lacks. The M7 chip takes advantage of the sensors in the iPhone – accelerometer, gyroscope and compass – and continuously measures data coming from them. This is good news for battery life, as it does all this without having to wake up the A7 processor, perfect if you use a fitness tracking app, for example.
iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C: storage
Storage is another differentiator between the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. The iPhone 5C comes in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB flavours, but the iPhone 5S starts from 16GB and goes all the way up to 64GB. (See also: iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5 comparison review.)
iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C: design, build, dimensions
Another key area of difference is the design. The iPhone 5C is a radical departure for Apple. It is primarily made of plastic - the last to come with a plastic shell was the 3GS. And it comes in a variety of colours, five of them in fact. There's no black model, which was a bit of a surprise, but Apple does offer white as well as bright and bold yellow, green, blue and pink options.
The iPhone 5S by contrast is more in keeping with the iPhone 5's tone. It comes in three metallic shades, including a gold effect.
The iPhone 5S's dimensions are 123.8x58.6x7.6mm, and it weighs just 112g. By contrast the iPhone 5C measures 124.4x59.2x8.97mm and weighs 132g, so it's actually a bit bigger and heavier than the iPhone 5S, though the screen size of both is 4in.
iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C: features
Aside from the processor and design, the biggest differences between the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C come down to the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, only found on the iPhone 5S, and the better camera in the iPhone 5S.
As the name suggests, The Touch ID fingerprint sensor uses your fingerprint to identify you and give you access to the iPhone 5S. It's actually really easy to set up and use, hidden beneath the Home Button. Not only does it add an extra level of security, it can also be used to skip the need to enter a passcode. Plus, you can use the Touch ID to authorise purchases from the iTunes Store, App Store and Apple BookStore.
iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C: battery
Both the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C have built-in, non-swappable lithium-ion batteries, and Apple says both of those batteries will give you the same amount of power. Apple says the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C will last for up to 250 hours on standby, and 10 hours of talk time. Web surfing is 8 hours on 3G, and 10 hours on LTE and Wi-Fi. Apple claims 10 hours for video playback and 40 hours audio playback, for the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C.
Our battery tests for the iPhone 5S actually clocked over 11 hours in our looping video test, while the iPhone 5C lasted slightly less time at 10 hours and 19 minutes.
iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C: cameras
Both the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C have two cameras, a front-facing FaceTime camera and a rear-facing camera known as an iSight camera. The specifications work out as follows.
The iPhone 5C iSight camera has and 8 megapixel sensor with ƒ/2.4 aperture and LED flash. It supports 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps with video stabilisation. There's a 3x zoom. The iPhone 5C's FaceTime Camera takes 1.2Mp photos at a resolution of 1280x960, and offers 720p HD video recording.
The iPhone 5S iSight camera has what Apple describes as a better 8Mp sensor, listing it as 8 megapixels with 1.5µ pixels. It has ƒ/2.2 aperture and a true-tone flash that uses two parts to improve the lighting. The video capabilities are the same, as listed, as is the FaceTime camera.
But the iPhone 5S takes things further than that, taking advantage of the A7 processor to perform auto white balance and auto exposure before you take a picture. The camera actually takes multiple images and analyses them in real time to see which is the sharpest. It also has auto image stabilization, which gives a sharper image, as well as a new Burst mode that takes photos at 10 frames per second until you let go of the shutter.
iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C: display
The screen is another area in which the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S are eerily similar. Both have 4-inch (diagonal) widescreen Multi-Touch displays, with a 1136x640-pixel resolution that makes for a pixel density of 326ppi. Expect 800:1 contrast ratio and 500 cd/m2 max brightness from both the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S.
Buying Advice Overall, there are many similarities between the iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S as well as the differences. They both offer similar battery life, and they have the same display and broadly the same software experience. But the iPhone 5S is quicker, has a better camera and comes with the Touch ID. Plus, it's more premium-looking than the bright, plastic iPhone 5C and only costs £80 more