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iPhone 5S or iPhone 5C: Which one is right for you?

The unveiling of the iPhone 5S conforms to Apple’s typical schedule, but the iPhone 5C is a whole new kettle of fish. If you’re in the market for a new smartphone then you’ll certainly want to consider them both, but which one will be the right fit for you? Let’s take a closer look at how they measure up.

How much do you want to spend?

Winner: iPhone 5C

Let’s just cut straight to the chase, because if you have a limited budget then you can make an easy decision right now. The iPhone 5C is cheaper at about $100 for the 16GB version, or $200 for the 32GB version on a two-year contract. The iPhone 5S will cost you $200 for the 16GB, $300 for the 32GB, and $400 for the 64GB on a two-year contract.

Processing power

Winner: iPhone 5S

Naturally, the iPhone 5S beats the pants off the iPhone 5C in terms of specs. It has the A7 processor, which is the first 64-bit chip on a phone. It’s more than twice as fast as the iPhone 5C. It also has a bigger battery, and a new camera that promises to deliver better pictures thanks to an improved sensor and a dual flash system for balancing colors and getting skin tones just right. Storage-wise, it comes in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB varieties. There’s no 64GB version of the 5C.

The iPhone 5C has almost the same specs as the iPhone 5. The battery has been improved slightly, but otherwise it’s the same A6 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8-megapixel camera.

The design

Winner: iPhone 5S

The premium build quality typically associated with Apple products has certainly been compromised by the plastic iPhone 5C, but there’s enough to remind you that this is an iPhone. The steel reinforced interior is surrounded by a single piece hard-coated polycarbonate body. It comes in green, white, blue, red, or yellow. The range of colors can be contrasted with a soft-finish Apple case with circular cut-outs at $30.

You can get the iPhone 5S in slate, gold, or silver and it maintains the typical premium feel. It’s crafted from high-grade aluminum and there’s a new Touch ID sensor located in the Home button which is made of unscratchable sapphire crystal with a circular steel surround. There are official Apple cases in a range of colors for it as well, but they cost $40 each.

Special features and apps

Winner: iPhone 5S

It makes sense to talk about which features the iPhone 5S has that the iPhone 5C can only dream about, so we can start with the fingerprint sensor. No more PINs or passwords needed – just press the Home button with your finger and you’re in. It’s a new level of security for mass market smartphones, and a major boost in convenience.

The A7 processor looks like it will deliver unparalleled performance, so gamers may want to take note. Then there’s the camera, which appears to offer a real jump in quality, not to mention automatic image stabilization, a burst capture mode, and slow-motion video capture. There’s also a motion processor in the iPhone 5S that measures the accelerometer, compass, and gyroscope, which will be of particular interest to health and fitness fans.

What’s the same?

The new and improved iOS 7 platform represents the biggest change to the iPhone’s operating system since it launched, but it doesn’t have a major impact in your decision here because it will be running on both models of iPhone. That means you’ll have access to all of the same apps and games on each device. Both iPhone models still sport the 4-inch Retina display. They also both have the latest 4G LTE support and the FaceTime HD camera for video calls.

Overall

The iPhone 5S is the new flagship and it offers a real improvement over the iPhone 5. It looks much the same, but it’s twice as fast, the camera is better, there’s a new fingerprint sensor in the Home button, and you can get one in gold. The iPhone 5C won’t be as demanding on your pocket, though we still balk at the idea of calling it a “budget” device. It is basically an iPhone 5 in a plastic body, but it does come in a variety of colors.

Choosing the right iPhone

It’s the same choice you have every year, honestly. If you want the latest cutting edge iPhone and you can afford it, then you’ll buy the iPhone 5S. If you want a decent iPhone at a reasonable price then you’ll opt for the iPhone 5C. They’re both available for pre-order from September 13 and you can get your hands on one on September 20. Just please, don’t buy the iPhone 4S. Yes, Apple is selling it for free with a two-year contract, but it doesn’t have 4G LTE. The difference in speed between 3G and 4G is huge. Find another $100 and get an LTE capable iPhone.

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