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

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Last night, for the first time ever, Apple’s annual iPhone event heralded two new and rather different smartphones rather than just the usual single upgrade.

The Cupertino company revealed the new flagship iPhone 5S and a colourful, plastic iPhone 5C at its California campus, breaking tradition. The two share similarities but are also somewhat different in a number of ways. To the untrained eye, a quick browse over the specification sheet suggests that the two are identical except for their casings, but there are plenty of other differences to spot.

Keen to be the one to confidently tell your friends what’s what when the classic “I don’t see what’s different about the new iPhones” chat comes up at the pub this weekend? Then read on and brush up on your knowledge!


iPhone 5S: 4-inch Retina display, 1136 x 640, 326 pixels per inch

iPhone 5C: 4-inch Retina display, 1136 x 640, 326 pixels per inch

Yep, both devices use exactly the same screen and the same one as previously found on the iPhone 5. It’s bright, it’s sharp and its very colourful and despite rivals such as Samsung, HTC and Sony moving on to 5+ inch Full HD screens, Apple has stuck to its guns and kept the same display. We’re not complaining about this one.

Processing power

iPhone 5S: 64-bit A7 processor

iPhone 5C: 32-bit A6 processor

The 5S carries a brand new Apple-designed chip which makes it the world’s first 64-bit processor, which puts it in the realms of desktop computer processing power. The iPhone 5C uses Apple’s A6 processor, which is no slouch by any means, and is actually the same chip as found in the iPhone 5. Why would you want the A7 processor over the A6? Well, it provides much better graphics, faster performance and is ready to handle the next generation of apps.

Keeping the A7 chip company inside the iPhone 5S is a co-processor called the M7. This is used to record the iPhone’s movement by sampling the accelerometer, compass and gyroscope, with the idea of feeding the data to the next generation of fitness and health apps on iOS.


This is the biggest difference between the two devices. The iPhone 5S continues Apple’s slim, sleek and classy metal and glass design and measures just 7.6mm thick and weighs 112g. The iPhone 5C uses a glossy and bright, yet tough colourful plastic shell which makes it a little thicker at 8.97mm and a touch heavier at 132g. Whereas the 5S is very squared off on the edges, the 5C is curved and therefore much easier and comfier to hold in the palm, which can only be a good thing.

The iPhone 5S also features a stainless steel band around the home button which acts as part of the fingerprint sensor, whereas the 5C looks identical to the iPhone 5 from the front.


iPhone 5S: 8 megapixel rear camera, dual ‘True Tone’ LED flash, f/2.2 aperture, 1/3” sensor, slow-mo video

iPhone 5C: 8 megapixel rear camera, single LED flash, f/2.4 aperture, 1/3.2” sensor

Despite the rumours, Apple didn’t downgrade the rear camera in order to make the iPhone 5C more affordable. Instead you get the same great camera as found in the iPhone 5, which takes Full HD videos, panoramic snaps and excellent still images. Of course, the iPhone 5S takes things up a notch and offers even better performance, especially in low light thanks to the larger image sensor, lower aperture and a new dual LED flash which aims to reduce washed out colours in darker images. The 5S also features new slo-mo video and burst mode features which we have to say, look pretty darn neat.

Up front, both phones rock a 1.2 megapixel front facing camera which is capable of recording 720p HD video at 30 frames per second, so it’s a dead heat there.

Battery Life

iPhone 5S: 10 hours 3G talktime, 250 hours standby, 8 hours 3G internet browsing + 10 hours 4G/Wi-Fi browsing

iPhone 5C: 10 hours 3G talktime, 250 hours standby, 8 hours 3G internet browsing + 10 hours 4G/Wi-Fi browsing

Apple has squeezed yet more life out of the battery and has thankfully achieved the same results with both new models. You’ll get 10 hours of call time and between 8 and 10 hours of web browsing depending on your connection method, but in reality you’ll still be charging both up at the end of the day.

Unique features

iPhone 5S: Touch ID Fingerprint scanner

iPhone 5C: Bright colours!

Apple’s recent acquisition of a biometrics company has led to the iPhone 5S having a fingerprint scanner built in to the home button – perhaps the biggest differentiator between the two new models. Apple calls it ‘Touch ID’ and it allows the user to touch their finger on the home button to unlock the phone rather than typing in a passcode. Your fingerprint can also be used to approve app downloads and music, film and book purchases from iTunes.

The iPhone 5C is… well, it’s rather bright and colourful. Asides from that, it has no stand-out features that we’ve not yet seen on an iPhone.


iPhone 5S: Space Grey, Silver, Gold

iPhone 5C: White, Pink, Yellow, Blue, Green

The ‘C’ of course stands for ‘colourful’ and the iPhone 5C offers the widest range of colours ever seen on an iPhone. Apple also added the new gold option for the 5S and has lightened the black version to a grey colour which it calls ‘Space Grey’. The colours on the 5S are more understated and have a dull finish to them whilst the 5C offers vibrant, glossy colours for those who want to stand out.


iPhone 5S: 16GB: £549 / 32GB: £629 / 64GB: £709

iPhone 5C: 16GB: £469 / 32GB: £549

Unfortunately the iPhone 5C isn’t the affordable or cheap smartphone that the rumour mill promised and is in fact only £80 cheaper than the 5S. There’s also no 64GB version available for those who want the colourful iPhone, unfortunately.


So there you have it, the iPhone 5C is effectively the iPhone 5 in a slightly thicker and heavier, colourful plastic shell. The iPhone 5S offers a better camera, faster processor and new features like the M7 motion co-processor and the home button fingerprint scanner, but the 5C is still a powerful and very respectable choice – but it had better be for £469!