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iPhone Q&A - Updated April 16, 2014

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What are all the differences between the iPhone 5c and the iPhone 5s? What are all the differences between these devices and the iPhone 5 replaced? Which is best for me?

There are twenty one distinct iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s models and EveryiPhone.com has diligently documented each one as always. This Q&A primarily addresses collective differences for the sake of simplicity.

With a quick glance at the front of an iPhone from each line, it would be easy to mistake them for one another, but with more detailed evaluation, some differences become readily apparent. Other differences are not obvious but still are quite important.


Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPhone 5 - Left, iPhone 5c - Center, iPhone 5s - Right)

External Differences

Perhaps the most immediately noticeable difference is that the iPhone 5s does not have a rounded square icon on the home button like the other two devices. Instead, it has a icon-free and less concave button with an embedded "Touch ID" fingerprint sensor. Consequently, the iPhone 5s can be configured with biometric identification rather than just a passcode.

The iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s all have a 4" multi-touch IPS LED-backlit 1136x640 (326 ppi) "Retina" display, and the front of each is glass. Otherwise, the housing is quite different, particularly for the iPhone 5c compared to the other two models.


Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPhone 5 - Left, iPhone 5c - Center, iPhone 5s - Right)

The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s both have a largely aluminum 0.30 of an inch thick case with a "chamfered cut" band around the edge, but the matte color options are different.

Specifically, the iPhone 5 has either a black glass front and a mostly black aluminum back or a white glass front and a mostly silver aluminum back.

The iPhone 5s models also are offered with a white glass front and a mostly silver aluminum back, but Apple replaced the black glass and black aluminum option with a black glass and medium colored gunmetal gray aluminum option that the company refers to as "Space Gray." Apple also has added an all new "Gold" option with a white glass front and a mostly gold colored aluminum back.


Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPhone 5s Colors -- Silver, Gold, & Space Gray)

The iPhone 5c models, by contrast, are offered with a new polycarbonate over steel body design in five glossy colors -- white, pink, yellow, blue, and green.


Photo Credit: Apple, Inc. (iPhone 5c Colors)

The iPhone 5c also is a bit thicker and heavier than the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. Most notably, the iPhone 5c is an extra 0.05 of an inch thick (1.37 mm) and weighs an extra 0.7 of an ounce (20 grams). Inconsequential differences to some, but worth mentioning nevertheless.

All iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s models additionally have a bottom mounted headphone jack, microphone, Lightning connector, and a single built-in speaker. They all have "EarPod" headphones that include the integrated Remote and Mic, too.

Camera Differences

The iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s all have dual cameras, but there are notable quality differences between them.

The front "FaceTime" cameras are similar in all three devices, and all have 1.2 megapixel sensors and shoot 720p video, but the iPhone 5 has 1.75µm pixels whereas the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s have 1.9µm pixels, which as well documented by iLounge, means that in the real world the later models have improved low light performance, even if it can be subtle.

The back "iSight" cameras for the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c are the same. Both shoot 1080p video and have an 8 megapixel sensor with an f/2.4 aperture, 1.4µm pixels, a five-element lens, a sapphire crystal lens cover, a single LED flash, and a hybrid IR filter. They both also support autofocus, tap to focus, face detection, Panorama mode, and photo geotagging.

The back camera for the iPhone 5s, however, is of significantly better quality even though Apple still dubs it "iSight" like the lesser models. It also has an 8 megapixel sensor, but it has 1.5µm pixels, for more detail and clarity. It also has an f/2.2 aperture (for more light) and a dual LED flash that Apple refers to as "True Tone." Apple claims that the True Tone flash provides more natural light than a traditional flash by variably adjusting "color and intensity for over 1,000 combinations."

The iPhone 5s has all of the other hardware and software features of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c camera, but also adds a "Burst mode" for still photos and a "Slo-mo" mode for video.

Identification Differences

At the moment, it is simple to visually identify the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s when all are side-by-side. The iPhone 5c is the only colorful polycarbonate one and although the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s share very similar cases, the iPhone 5s can be spotted quickly by the distinctive "Touch ID" home button.

However, visual identification may be more challenging in the future, and particularly when the devices are not next to one another.

Many of the devices can be identified by Model Number, which is listed on the back of each phone in tiny type, but not all can be individually identified in this way.

Nevertheless, the model numbers for the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s are:

iPhone

Model Number

5 (GSM/LTE 4, 17/North America)

A1428

5 (CDMA/LTE, Sprint/Verizon/KDDI)

A1429

5 (GSM/LTE 1, 3, 5/International)

A1429

5 (CDMA China/UIM/WAPI)

A1442

5 (GSM/LTE/AWS/North America)

A1428

5c (GSM/North America/A1532)

A1532

5c (CDMA/Verizon/A1532)

A1532

5c (CDMA/China Telecom/A1532)

A1532

5c (CDMA/US/Japan/A1456)

A1456

5c (UK/Europe/Middle East/A1507)

A1507

5c (China Unicom/A1526)

A1526

5c (Asia Pacific/A1529)

A1529

5c (China Mobile/A1516)

A1516

5s (GSM/North America/A1533)

A1533

5s (CDMA/Verizon/A1533)

A1533

5s (CDMA/China Telecom/A1533)

A1533

5s (CDMA/US/Japan/A1453)

A1453

5s (UK/Europe/Middle East/A1457)

A1457

5s (China Unicom/A1528)

A1528

5s (Asia Pacific/A1530)

A1530

5s (China Mobile/A1518)

A1518

As is readily apparent from the above model numbers in italics, there are several iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s devices with overlapping model numbers. For the purpose of this Q&A, it may simply be sufficient to note that A1428 and A1429 refer to an iPhone 5, A1532 refers to an iPhone 5c, and A1533 refers to an iPhone 5s.

However, if you need to uniquely identify one of these iPhone models that shares an external model number, they also can be pinpointed by other identifiers.

Specifically, EveryiPhone.com's Ultimate iLookup feature -- as well as the EveryMac app for iOS 5 or higher and Android -- can precisely identify these iPhone models by Order Number (referred to as "Model" within the iOS "Settings" app under General > About), and their Serial Numbers, as well.

Battery Life Differences

Apple reports that all three of these iPhone models provide up to 40 hours of audio playback, 10 hours of video playback, and 10 hours of Wi-Fi, but provides different numbers for other usage.

Specifically, Apple estimates 8 hours of talk time on 3G and 8 hours of Internet use on 3G and 4G/LTE alike for the iPhone 5, but 10 hours for the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s.

As first reported by AnandTech, citing FCC filing documents, the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s models have a larger capacity battery than their predecessor, so it is entirely logical that the battery runtime is longer.

Wireless Connectivity & Data Differences

All iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s models support GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz). With the official exception of the China Unicom and China Telecom models, all three lines support 4G/LTE, but different models support different LTE bands as well as other connectivity standards.

However, as first shared by a helpful Chinese reader "people have managed to crack the carrier settings and enable LTE-TDD" on China Mobile with the China Unicom iPhone 5c (A1526) and iPhone 5s (A1528), as well. This hack requires one to "write blank SIM cards with fake IMSIs, switch cards in a particular order, and manually select China Mobile as the carrier." Nevertheless, Apple also appears to be actively correcting "an issue with some iPhone 5s models that were mistakenly provisioned with the ability to connect to China Mobile's 4G network," as well. The cat and mouse game of hacks no doubt will continue.

Officially, different models support the following cellular connectivity:

iPhone Model Model
Number
UMTS/HSPA+
DC-HSDPA
CDMA
EV-DO
LTE Bands
(4G)
5 (GSM/N. America) A1428 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz None 4, 17
5 (CDMA) A1429 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz 800, 1900, 2100 MHz 1, 3, 5, 13, 25
5 (GSM/Intl) A1429 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz None 1, 3, 5
5 (China) A1442 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz 800, 1900 MHz None
5 (GSM/AWS) A1428 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz None 4, 17
5c (GSM/N. America) A1532 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz None 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 19, 20, 25
5c (CDMA/VZ) A1532 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz 800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 19, 20, 25
5c (CDMA/China) A1532 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz 800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz None
5c (CDMA/US/JP) A1456 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz 800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26
5c (UK/Europe) A1507 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz None 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20
5c (China Unicom) A1526 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz None None
5c (Asia Pacific) A1529 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz None FDD-LTE (1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20); TD-LTE (38, 39, 40)
5c (China Mobile) A1516 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz None TD-SCDMA 1900 (F), 2000 (A); TD-LTE (38, 39, 40)
5s (GSM/N. America) A1533 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz None 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 19, 20, 25
5s (CDMA/VZ) A1533 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz 800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 19, 20, 25
5s (CDMA/China) A1533 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz 800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz None
5s (CDMA/US/JP) A1453 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz 800, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26
5s (UK/Europe) A1457 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz None 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20
5s (China Unicom) A1528 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz None None
5s (Asia Pacific) A1530 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz None FDD-LTE (1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20); TD-LTE (38, 39, 40)
5s (China Mobile) A1518 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz None TD-SCDMA 1900 (F), 2000 (A); TD-LTE (38, 39, 40)

Internal Differences

The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c are both powered by a dual core 1.3 GHz Apple A6 processor and have 1 GB of RAM.

Apple notes that the iPhone 5s has a 64-bit "Apple A7" processor and an "M7 motion coprocessor." Apple does not provide additional technical details, but the always excellent AnandTech was first to determine that the Apple A7 processor is a ARMv8 derivative of Apple's "Swift" dual core architecture called "Cyclone" and it runs at 1.3 GHz. It also is 28 nm, has a 64k/64k level 1 (instruction/data) cache and a 1 MB level 2 cache. AnandTech reported that the iPhone 5s models have 1 GB of RAM, too.

The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s have 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB of flash storage whereas the iPhone 5c only have 8 GB, 16 GB, or 32 GB.

Originally, the iPhone 5c models shipped with 16 GB or 32 GB of storage, but on March 18, 2014, Apple added an 8 GB option, only in the UK, France, Germany, Australia, and China. On April 16, 2014, as first spotted by 9to5Mac, Apple quietly added the 8 GB iPhone 5c model in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Specifically, the iPhone 5c (CDMA/China Telecom/A1532), 5c (UK/Europe), and 5c (Asia Pacific) models can be configured with just 8 GB of storage.

iOS Support Differences

The iPhone 5 models fully support both iOS 6 and iOS 7, but the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s models only support iOS 7, without any support for earlier versions of the iOS.

Regardless of operating system, it also is worth noting that FaceTime audio does not work on the Chinese models due to state restrictions on VOIP services.

Comparison Chart

These differences -- materials, biometrics, cameras, identifiers, battery life, connectivity, processor, and storage -- along with pricing information are summarized below for your convenience:






iPhone

5

5c

5s
Intro Date: Sept. 12, 2012 Sept. 10, 2013 Sept. 10, 2013
Disc Date: Sept. 10, 2013 Current Current
Processor: Apple A6 Apple A6 Apple A7
Cores: Dual Cores Dual Cores Dual Cores
Coprocessor: None None Apple M7
Original Storage: 16, 32, 64 GB 16, 32 GB 16, 32, 64 GB
Current Storage: Discontinued 8, 16, 32 GB 16, 32, 64 GB
RAM: 1 GB 1 GB 1 GB
GSM/EDGE: Yes Yes Yes
UMTS: Yes Yes Yes
HSDPA: Yes (DC-HSPDA) Yes (DC-HSPDA) Yes (DC-HSPDA)
HSUPA: Yes Yes Yes
EV-DO: Some Models Some Models Some Models
4G/LTE: Yes (Most Models) Yes (Most Models) Yes (Most Models)
Bluetooth: 4.0 4.0 4.0
GPS: GPS/GLONASS GPS/GLONASS GPS/GLONASS
802.11n: 2.4 GHz/5 GHz 2.4 GHz/5 GHz 2.4 GHz/5 GHz
Talk Time (3G): 8 Hours 10 Hours 10 Hours
Battery (Web - 3G): 8 Hours 10 Hours 10 Hours
Battery (Web - 4G): 8 Hours 10 Hours 10 Hours
Battery (Wi-Fi): 10 Hours 10 Hours 10 Hours
Battery (Music): 40 Hours 40 Hours 40 Hours
Battery (Video): 10 Hours 10 Hours 10 Hours
Standby Time: 225 Hours 250 Hours 250 Hours
SIM Card: Nano Nano Nano
Original OS: iOS 6 iOS 7 iOS 7
Maximum OS: iOS 7 iOS 7 iOS 7
Biometrics: No No Touch ID
Front Camera: 1.2 Megapixels (1.75µm) 1.2 Megapixels (1.9µm) 1.2 Megapixels (1.9µm)
Rear Camera: 8 Megapixels (1.4µm) 8 Megapixels (1.4µm) 8 Megapixels (1.5µm)
Aperture (Rear): f/2.4 f/2.4 f/2.2
LED Flash (Rear): Single Single Dual (True Tone)
Panorama: Yes Yes Yes
Slo-Mo: No No Yes
Burst Mode: No No Yes
Materials: Glass/Aluminum Polycarbonate/Steel Glass/Aluminum
Dimensions: 4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30* 4.90 x 2.33 x 0.35* 4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30*
Weight: 3.95 oz. (112 g) 4.65 oz. (132 g) 3.95 oz. (112 g)
Model No: A1428/A1429
A1442
A1532/A1456
A1507/A1529
A1533/A1453
A1457/A1530
Price (Intro): US$199, $299, $399† US$99, $199† US$199, $299, $399†
Price (Current): N/A US$99, $199† US$199, $299, $399†


* In inches, height x width x depth.

† These prices all require, or required, a two-year contract in the US. Unlocked and contract free iPhone models are available at a premium. Pricing varies by country and carrier internationally.

So, should I buy an iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, or iPhone 5s?

The iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s models all are quite capable and the decision likely will come down to whether performance, appearance, or price are most important to you.

If upfront price is not a concern, you want your iPhone to be usable for as long as possible from the date of purchase, and both speed and camera quality are important to you, the iPhone 5s is the clear choice. You also may find the iPhone 5s the best choice simply because you like the "pimp" gold color option or you find yourself forgetting your passcode on a regular basis and a biometric fingerprint unlock option would be particularly handy.

If upfront price is more of a concern or you like a bright "candy colored" design, and performance and the camera are less important, the iPhone 5c is a solid choice. Of course, internally, the iPhone 5c is quite similar to the iPhone 5, and if you prefer a more subdued design and an even lower price tag on the used market, the iPhone 5 remains well worth consideration, too.

Site sponsor PowerMax has used iPhones available for sale free of sales tax.

Also see:

  • What are all the differences between the iPhone 5 models?
  • What are all the differences between the iPhone 5c models?
  • What are all the differences between the iPhone 5s models?


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