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What are all the differences between the iPhone 5 models?
Please note that the iPhone 5 has been discontinued. However, this Q&A has been updated with current iOS support details and can be quite helpful for anyone buying or selling an iPhone 5 on the used market.
Although it would be easy to assume that there is only one iPhone 5, there actually are five distinct models.
EveryiPhone.com refers to each as the iPhone 5 (GSM/LTE 4, 17/North America), (CDMA/LTE, Sprint/Verizon/KDDI), (GSM/LTE 1, 3, 5/International), (CDMA China/UIM/WAPI), and (GSM/LTE/AWS/North America) to help with differentiation.
The iPhone 5 models are quite similar to one another, but there are critical differences in network support. As a result, identification differences are particularly important, too.
Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (White & Silver iPhone 5)
External Similarities & Differences
All iPhone 5 models share the same 4" (diagonal) widescreen multi-touch IPS LED-backlit 1136x640 native resolution (326 ppi) "Retina" display, which has "integrated touch technology" so the pixels themselves act as the touch-sensitive digitizer, which means the display is thinner and has "more clarity" than it would if the digitizer was a separate layer over the LCD.
The iPhone 5 models all use a largely aluminum body -- a mere 0.30 of an inch (7.6 mm) thick -- with a "diamond cut" chamfered "band" around the sides and an aluminum back. They are offered in two colors -- "Black & Slate" and "White & Silver." The black option has a matte black aluminum back with black glossy "pigmented glass" portions on the top and bottom of the rear for antenna reception and a glossy black glass front. The white option has a matte silver aluminum back with white glossy "ceramic glass" portions on the top and bottom of the rear for antenna reception and a glossy white glass front.
All iPhone 5 models also have dual cameras -- a rear 8 megapixel, 1080p "iSight" camera, which includes support for HD video recording and Panorama shots up to 28 megapixels, as well as a front 1.2 megapixel, 720p "FaceTime HD" camera intended primarily for use with FaceTime video conferencing.
All iPhone 5 models have a bottom mounted headphone jack, designed for use with the included "EarPod" headphones, said to provide better sound as well as better fit than earlier iPhone earbuds, and a new, smaller USB 2.0-based "Lightning" port to connect the iPhone 5 to a computer via USB or a power adapter (an adapter is needed to connect the iPhone 5 to accessories that use the older "Dock Connector" port), as well as built-in speakers and three noise canceling microphones.
All five iPhone 5 devices, even the "CDMA" models -- the iPhone 5 (CDMA/LTE, Sprint/Verizon/KDDI) and iPhone 5 (CDMA China/UIM/WAPI) -- have an access panel on the right side of the metal band for the enclosed tiny Nano SIM or "UIM" card for the China-only model.
As first discovered by iDownloadBlog, the Verizon model was sold unlocked, albeit bound by a contract, but this still made it the clear choice for Americans interested in traveling outside of the US at the time of its introduction. Subsequently, however, the iPhone 5 (GSM/LTE/AWS/North America) also was offered on T-Mobile unlocked but bound by a contract, as well.
One simple way to externally identify many other iPhone models is by the Model Number printed in small type on the back of the phone. Unfortunately, for the iPhone 5, this identification method is not fool proof as four different iPhone 5 configurations share two model numbers.
In the short term, geographic distribution and carrier support may mitigate some of this confusion, but as time goes on, and iPhone 5 models continue to find their way around the globe on the secondary market, it no doubt will become a larger issue.
Nevertheless, the model number on the back of the original GSM configuration for the North American market -- the iPhone 5 (GSM/LTE 4, 17/North America), intended for use with AT&T in the US and Bell, Rogers, and Telus in Canada (as well as the Virgin, Fido, and Koodo affiliates of each company, respectively) -- is A1428. The iPhone 5 (GSM/LTE/AWS/North America), which was introduced on March 26, 2013 by T-Mobile in the US -- but also became available on AT&T and other carriers starting April 12, 2013 -- likewise uses the same A1428 model number.
The model number on the back of the CDMA configuration for the US and Japan -- the iPhone 5 (CDMA/LTE, Sprint/Verizon/KDDI), intended for use with Sprint and Verizon in the US and KDDI in Japan -- is A1429.
Just to keep things interesting, the "International" GSM model -- the iPhone 5 (GSM/LTE 1, 3, 5/International), intended for the UK, Germany, Australia, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and a variety of other markets -- also is the same A1429 model number as the CDMA version for the US and Japan.
EMC Numbers and even the Serial Number are not externally listed. Consequently, if the iPhone will boot, the most convenient way to conclusively identify a specific A1428 or A1429 iPhone 5 model is with the Order Number -- which Apple refers to as the "Model" within the iOS -- or its Serial Number listed in software.
To find this information, click the "Settings" icon on the homescreen and select General > About and then scroll until "Model" or "Serial Number" is visible. If the A1428 or A1429 iPhone 5 will not boot, you will have to connect it to a computer and view its serial number within iTunes (the Serial Number is not printed within the Nano SIM card tray on the iPhone 5 like it is on earlier models).
Once you have located the "Model" or the device serial number, EveryiPhone.com's Ultimate iLookup feature -- as well as the EveryMac app for iOS 5 or later, Android, and Kindle Fire -- can identify it precisely.
All iPhone 5 configurations support 802.11n Wi-Fi, on both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies, as well as Bluetooth 4.0. Network support is quite different for different configurations, however.
Specifically, the original GSM A1428 iPhone 5 (GSM/LTE 4, 17/North America), supports LTE bands 4 and 17, as well as UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz), and GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz). The subsequent GSM A1428 iPhone 5 (GSM/LTE/AWS/North America) still supports LTE bands 4 and 17 as well as the same network support as the original model, but adds AWS (1700/2100 MHz) support for T-Mobile and other carriers that support the AWS standard.
The CDMA A1429 iPhone 5 (CDMA/LTE, Sprint/Verizon/KDDI), supports LTE bands 1, 3, 5, 13, and 25, as well as CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900, 2100 MHz), UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz), and GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz).
The "International" GSM A1429 iPhone 5 (GSM/LTE 1, 3, 5/International), supports LTE bands 1, 3, and 5, in addition to UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz), and GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz).
The China-only A1442 iPhone 5 (CDMA China/UIM/WAPI) does not support LTE or 2100 MHz CDMA EV-DO. It does support CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900 MHz), UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz), and GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz). It also supports the "WAPI" Wi-Fi standard as required by the Chinese government.
A helpful Chinese reader also adds that the China-only A1442 model is "SIM locked to China Telecom so anything other than CDMA only is for roaming." This same reader also offered the opinion that the distinct model number is likely an effort to "avoid Chinese law that forbids SIM locking, but by submitting a different model number to the government for a CDMA-only approval, they can lock the phone to the only CDMA carrier in the country."
For complete details regarding LTE support, or the lack thereof, it will be necessary to refer to the carrier or carriers of interest in a particular country.
Battery Life Similarities
Officially, Apple reports the same battery life numbers for all iPhone 5 configurations -- "up to" 40 hours of audio playback, 8 hours of talk time on 3G, 8 hours of Internet use on 3G, 8 hours of Internet use on 4G/LTE, 10 hours of Internet use on Wi-Fi, and 10 hours of video playback. Apple also reports 225 hours of standby time.
Internally, all iPhone 5 configurations are powered by a dual core "Apple A6" processor, and have 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB of flash storage. AnandTech first determined that the processor is custom and has a three core graphics processor, most likely a a 266 MHz PowerVR SGX 543MP3.
Early Geekbench software evaluation reported that the processor ran at 1 GHz, but a later version of the software more accurately determined that it has a variable speed processor with a top speed of 1.3 GHz and that it commonly runs at 1 GHz.
Regardless of the location originally sold, all iPhone 5 models shipped with a version of iOS 6 pre-installed and all models are capable of completely supporting iOS 7, iOS 8, and iOS 9, as well. It is capable of running iOS 10, too.
However, iOS 9 is noticeably slower than iOS 8 (and iOS 10 may be slower still, but it is necessary to wait for the final version to know for sure). This video from iAppleBytes does an excellent job demonstrating the performance difference between iOS 8 (on the left) and iOS 9 (on the right) running on the iPhone 5:
If performance is your top priority, you may wish to stick with iOS 8 on the iPhone 5, but this does mean that the latest versions of apps will be less and less likely to work as time goes on.
Also note that if the iPhone 5 has been updated to a later version of the iOS it is not simple to "downgrade" to an earlier version without resorting to "jailbreaks" or other hacks.
iPhone 5 Comparison Chart
These differences -- availability, identifiers, network support, and target countries -- along with pricing information are summarized below for your convenience:
|Intro Date:||Sep. 12, 2012||Sep. 12, 2012||Sep. 12, 2012||Dec. 14, 2012||Mar. 26, 2013|
|Disc Date:||Apr. 12, 2013||Sep. 10, 2013||Sep. 10, 2013||Sep. 10, 2013||Sep. 10, 2013|
|LTE Bands:||4, 17||1, 3, 5, 13, 25||1, 3, 5||No||4, 17|
|SIM Card:||Nano||Nano||Nano||Nano (UIM)||Nano|
* These prices all required a two-year contract in the US and were locked to a carrier. Unlocked and contract free models were offered in the US for US$649, US$749, and US$849.
** In the US, the "AWS" iPhone 5 model was available on T-Mobile for US$99, US$199, or US$299 -- with 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB of storage, respectively -- unlocked, but with a two year contract. Locked to AT&T and with a two year contract, it is US$199, US$299, or US$399 with the same respective storage.
† Prices varied depending on country and carrier, but in the UK, this iPhone 5 was offered unlocked for £529, £599, and £699 with 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB of storage, respectively.
†† These prices were without a contract, but the device was bound to China Telecom's network.
For intro pricing in dozens of other countries, see the "Global Prices" on the specs page for each iPhone as well as the "By Global Original Prices" section of Everyi.com.
iPhone Purchase & Sale Options
There are any number of places to purchase a used iPhone 5. However, purchasing from a quality company with extensive iPhone knowledge -- and after sales support -- will provide the best experience and save you money and time, too.
In the US, site sponsor PowerMax has a good selection of used iPhones -- including iPhone 5 models -- available for sale free of sales tax. PowerMax also accepts trade-ins on older iPhones toward the purchase of a newer iPhone or anything else they sell. If you just want money for your old iPhone, site sponsor BuyBackWorld will buy your iPhone 5 or other iPhone directly for fast cash.
Please additionally see EveryiPhone.com's Ultimate iComparison feature to dynamically compare any iPhone model to any other iPod, iPhone, or iPad.