5C or 5S? That is the question (for me)

Before we get going, I want to apologise for the lack of posts lately. Life has a knack of getting in the way of blogging occasionally, and I’m sorry for that.

The last post we had on the site was about the potential for Apple adding a new colour to their iPhone range… the ‘champagne’ iPhone 5S. It turned out that was true (good work Will), although the true colour explosion was reserved for the bright and cheery iPhone 5C.

iPhone 5C vs 5SI now find myself in a bit of a quandary though. My phone contract is up for renewal in about a month’s time, and that usually means also getting a new handset. I want to stick with the iPhone, but now there are two new models to choose from I have to do a bit of comparing. Part of me wants the most powerful model available (that would be the 5S then) but the 5C is slightly cheaper and would most likely suit me just fine. I find myself comparing features to try and make my mind up!


I still remember when I used to say ‘If I wanted a camera, I would buy a camera’. I was unconvinced of the need to have cameras on mobile phones when they were first introduced, but I now see it as an important feature. I discounted the value in having a decent camera with you at all times – something I can’t really imagine being without now. So how do the cameras on the 5C and 5S compare?

On the 5C, the camera is an 8 megapixel affair with a maximum aperture of f/2.4. If you’re unfamiliar with photography terminology, the f/ number represents how large the hole will be that light passes through before hitting the camera’s sensor. A larger number represents a smaller aperture, so a smaller hole for light to pass through. That means there’s less light and can affect performance in low light situations. So if we compare with the 5S’ maximum aperture of f/2.2, we see that the 5S has a slightly larger maximum aperture (remember, smaller number = larger aperture). So the 5S will be slightly better in low light.

The sensor in the 5S is also 8 megapixels, but the pixels are larger. I’m not too clear on why that’s helpful, but apparently it is.

The flashes differ between models too, with the 5C having the standard LED flash and the 5S having a True Tone Flash. The True Tone Flash is actually two LEDs that fire with different colour hues, somehow avoiding the washed-out look that we are used to with mobile phone flashes.

The other differences between the models are that the 5S includes auto image stabilisation (useful if you have shaky hands), burst mode and, in video mode, slo-mo.

So the 5S wins out from a features point of view, as you would expect, but the 5C is by no means a slouch in the photography department.

Battery Life

If one model is going to offer a much better battery life than the other, that’s going to heavily influence my decision. As it turns out though, according to Apple’s specs at least, both the 5C and 5S boast the same battery performance characteristics. They both offer up to 10 hours talk time on 3G, a standby time of 250 hours, 8-10 hours Internet use, 10 hours video playback and 40 hours audio… nothing to separate them here then.


The 5S uses Apple’s A7 processor, with 64 bit architecture and an additional M7 motion coprocessor. Let’s not get into too many details, but suffice to say this is the latest incarnation of Apple’s processor. The coprocessor takes over some of the work that the CPU (Central Processing Unit) would normally handle, freeing it up to do other things. The 5C, on the other hand, doesn’t have the coprocessor and uses the A6 chip, so we can expect it to be a little slower at processing tasks.

But is there really much difference in speed between the two? Benchmarks suggest that the 5S is much faster, but that it’s not very noticeable in real-world tests. So, again, while I would like to know I have the best on offer, the 5C wouldn’t be a bad option either.

That Fingerprint Sensor

I can’t deny it – I think the fingerprint sensor is cool. I like the idea. I’m not convinced of the necessity of it though, or that it offers the ultimate in security. It’s a nice-to-have in my mind as I’ve done just fine without it on any of my other phones. Don’t get me wrong, I want it, but I don’t need it.

Edit: Thanks to Ian for reminding me in the comments that a German hacker group claim to have already broken the security on the fingerprint scanner – it looks like passwords are going to be around for a while longer!


Sadly, this is often what it all comes down to. There are so many deals out there, but I’m going to use my mobile carrier’s tariffs as a guide. They’re offering a tariff at £41 per month and, with that, you pay £49 up front for the 5C and £99 for the 5S. The 5S is obviously more expensive, but if you think of this over the length of your two year contract, it’s not a huge difference. See, although the 5C was initially touted as the ‘affordable’ option, I don’t think it is. It’s still an expensive phone, just slightly less expensive than the 5S. For the want of an extra £50 up front, wouldn’t it make sense to get the most powerful phone available?


In the end, I don’t think there’s much between these two phones. The specs are pretty similar, the prices are very close… the main difference I can think of is that, with the 5S, you would be future-proofing yourself for a while. The 5C, while it looks funky and is slightly cheaper, is really just an iPhone 5 with small updates. If I were to buy a new iPhone today, I think it would be the 5S. I just don’t see a reason to get a 5C instead.

What do you think? Have I been fair in my comparison or have I missed something huge that makes the 5C a more sensible option? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

By the way, while we’re thinking about iPhone 5Cs, Mobile Fun are running a competition to win one! Aah, now that there’s the possibility of one for free, you’re leaning back towards the 5C? Well, jump in and enter – you’ve got ’till Monday!

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  1. Apart from the fact they are IPhones…….I watched a demo of a drop test on the two phones and both survived the test until they dropped the phones onto their screens. The 5C smashed and had a wonderful pattern on the screen. The 5S survived that was working as normal.
    I also tweeted an article reecently about the Biometrics being hacked already by I think a German hacking group. So the finger print system sounds nice and is a nice gimmic, but not safe as you suggested. Have you considered Android. The New Nexus 5 is muted for November launch…..Just a thought…..You can see where our loyalties lie.

    • Yes, I forgot to mention the fingerprint scanner already being hacked! I think you use the right word there – ‘gimmick’. It’s still cool, but I wouldn’t trust it to keep my accounts safe.

      I have considered Android, and would happily switch if it weren’t for two things:
      1- the number of apps I’ve bought for iOS makes me reluctant to move away
      2- I need a real-world iOS device for app development

      I will admit I really like my wife’s Samsung Galaxy S4, and I ditched the iPad in favour of a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. No reason we seem to have gone for Samsungs, I think we just both liked them when we were making the purchases.

  2. Yes I am going all nexusy, thats a word I made up by the way.
    I have the Nexus 7 as you know and my phone is due for renewal next year and the Nexus 5 should be out by then and unless something really intices me I can’t see me going any other way.
    I will forgive you on this occassion since you need it for development purposes.
    Take care


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