iPhone buyers guide

iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C buyers guide

Everything you need to know before choosing your perfect iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c color, capacity, carrier, and more!

There are a lot of decisions involved when it comes to buying or upgrading to a new phone, even a new iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c. Which model? High-end or less-expensive? Which color? There are a lot to choose from this year! Which capacity? Keep it small or go all out? And on which carrier? There's never been more to choose from! Then there's when to buy and where, and host of other small but important things to consider, including, what do you do with your old phone when your hot new one arrives?

Enter iMore's 2014 iPhone buyers guide. If you need help deciding what to buy, we've got your back. And if you've already decided, just bookmark, email, Facebook, or Tweet this so we can help your friends and family and you can get on with enjoying your new iPhone!

2014 iPhone buyers guide podcast

Rene, Peter, and Richard talk everything about Apple's new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, including iPhone vs. other phones, iPhone 5s vs. iPhone 5c, color, capacity, carriers, and more! If you'd rather watch or listen before you read, start here!

iPhone spec comparison

iPhone iPhone 3G iPhone 3GS iPhone 4 iPhone 4S iPhone 5 iPhone 5c iPhone 5s
iPhone iPhone 3G iPhone 3GS iPhone 4 iPhone 4S iPhone 5 iPhone 5c iPhone 5s
Code Name M68 N82 N88 N90 N94 N41 N48 N51
Model Name iPhone 1,1 iPhone 1,2 iPhone 2,1 iPhone 3,1 iPhone 4,1 iPhone 5,1 iPhone 5,3 iPhone 6,1
Launch OS iPhone OS 1.0 iPhone OS 2.0 iPhone OS 3.0 iOS 4 iOS 5 iOS 6 iOS 7 iOS 7
Screen Size 3.5 inches 3.5 inches 3.5 inches 3.5 inches 3.5 inches 4.0 inches 4.0 inches 4.0 inches
Screen Resolution 480x320 (163ppi) 480x320 (163ppi) 960x640 (326ppi) 960x640 (326ppi) 1136x640 (326ppi) 1136x640 (326ppi) 1136x640 (326ppi) 1136x640 (326ppi)
Screen Type IPS LCD IPS LCD IPS LCD IPS LCD IPS LCD IPS LCD IPS LCD IPS LCD
System-on-a-chip Samsung S5L8900 Samsung S5L8900 Samsung APL0298C05 Apple A4 Apple A5 Apple A6 Apple A6 Apple A7
CPU ARM 1176JZ(F)-S ARM 1176JZ(F)-S 600MHz ARM Cortex A8 800MHz ARM Cortex A8 800MHz dual-core ARM Cortex A9 1.3GHz dual-core Swift (ARM v7s) 1.3GHz dual-core Swift (ARM v7s) 64-bit 1.3GHz dual-core Cyclone (ARM v8)
GPU PowerVR MBX Lite 3D PowerVR MBX Lite 3D PowerVR SGX535 PowerVR SGX535 PowerVR dual-core SGX543MP4 PowerVR triple-core SGX543MP3 PowerVR triple-core SGX543MP3 PowerVR G6430
Co-processor none none none none none none none M7 Motion
RAM 128MB 128MB 256MB 512MB 512MB 1GB 1GB 1GB DDR3
Storage 4GB/8GB/16GB 8GB/16GB 16GB/32GB 16GB/32GB 16GB/32GB/64GB 16GB/32GB/64GB 16GB/32GB/64GB 16GB/32GB/64GB
Cellular Data EDGE 3G 3.6 HSPA 7.2 HSPA 7.2 HSPA 14.4 LTE/DC-HSPA LTE/DC-HSPA LTE/DC-HSPA
SIM Mini Mini Mini Micro Micro Nano Nano Nano
Rear Camera 2MP 2MP 3MP/480p 5MP/720p, ƒ2.8, 1.75µ 8MP/1080p, ƒ/2.4, BSI, 1.4µ 8MP/1080p, ƒ/2.4, BSI, 1.4µ 8MP/1080p, ƒ/2.4, BSI, 1.4µ 8MP/1080p, ƒ/2.2, BSI, 1.5µ
Front Camera none none none VGA VGA 1.2MP/720p, BSI 1.2MP/720p, BSI 1.2MP/720p, BSI
Bluetooth Bluetooth 2.0+EDR Bluetooth 2.0+EDR Bluetooth 2.1+EDR Bluetooth 2.1+EDR Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 4.0 Bluetooth 4.0
Wi-Fi 802.11b/g 802.11b/g 802.11b/g 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz) 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz) 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz, 5GHz) 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz, 5GHz) 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz, 5GHz)
GPS none aGPS aGPS aGPS aGPS, GLONASS aGPS, GLONASS aGPS, GLONASS aGPS, GLONASS
Sensors Ambient light, accelerometer, proximity Ambient light, accelerometer, proximity Ambient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass Ambient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscope Ambient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscope, infrared Ambient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscope, infrared Ambient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscope, infrared Ambient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscope, infrared, fingerprint
Mic Single Single Single Dual Dual Triple Triple Triple
Connector 30-pin Dock 30-pin Dock 30-pin Dock 30-pin Dock 30-pin Dock Lightning Lightning Lightning
Height 4.52 inches (115mm) 4.55 inches (115.5mm) 4.55 inches (115.5mm) 4.54 inches (115.2mm) 4.54 inches (115.2mm) 4.87 inches (123.8mm) 4.91 inches (124.8mm) 4.87 inches (123.8mm)
Width 2.40 inches (61mm) 2.43 inches (61.8mm) 2.43 inches (61.8mm) 2.31 inches (58.6mm) 2.31 inches (58.6mm) 2.31 inches (58.6mm) 2.33 inches (59.2mm) 2.31 inches (58.6mm)
Thickness 0.46 inches (11.6mm) 0.48 inches (12.3mm) 0.48 inches (12.3mm) 0.37 inches (9.3mm) 0.37 inches (9.3mm) 0.30 inches (7.6mm) 0.35 inches (8.97mm) 0.30 inches (7.6mm)
Weight 4.72oz (135g) 4.69 oz (133g) 4.72oz (135g) 4.83oz (137g) 4.94 oz (140g) 3.95oz (112g) 4.66oz (132g) 4.30oz (122g)
Battery 1400mAh 1150mAh 1219mAh 1420mAh 1440mAh 1440mAh 1510mAh 1560mAh
Colors Black and aluminum Black/White Black/White Black/White Black/White Slate and black/Silver and white Blue/Green/Pink/White/Yellow Space gray and black/Silver and white/Gold and white
Launch Price $499/$599 on contract (no subsidy) $199/$299 on contract $199/$299 on contract $199/$299 on contract $199/$299/$399 on contract $199/$299/$399 on contract $99/$199 on contract $199/$299/$399 on contract
Release Date 6/29/2007 7/1/2008 6/19/2009 6/24/2010 10/14/2011 9/21/2012 9/20/2013 9/20/2013
Availability 4 countries, 4 carriers by year-end 2007 70 countries, 16 carriers by year-end 2008 80 countries by year-end 2009 90 countries, 185 carriers by year-end 2010 70 countries, 100 carriers by year-end 2011 100 countries, 240 carriers by year-end 2012 100 countries, 270 carriers by year-end 2013 100 countries, 270 carriers by year-end 2013

Since its introduction in 2007 the iPhone has improved steadily over the years, adding higher density, bigger displays, faster Wi-Fi and cellular networking, better cameras, and new features like Siri and Touch ID. The above chart shows the evolution of the iPhone from the original to the latest iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s, including pricing and capacity at launch. While what you paid for it when you got it might vary, you can check your current model and see how it compares to the ones available now.

iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c: Should you upgrade?

iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c: Should you upgrade?

When a new iPhone is introduced - or this year when two new iPhones are introduced - one of the toughest decisions to make is whether or not to upgrade to the latest and the greatest. If money is no object, it won't matter. If you're due an upgrade on contract, it comes down to whether or not the new features in the iPhone 5c or iPhone 5s are compelling enough to be worth $100 or $200 or more to you. If you're not due an upgrade, or if you don't buy on contract, then that decision escalates to $550, $650, or more. So what are the pros and cons of upgrading to the iPhone 5c or iPhone 5s, and when does the cost get overwhelmed by the value? Let's take a look...

How to sell your old iPhone

How to get the most money for your old iPhone before upgrading to a new iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c

Selling your old iPhone (or any old phone) can help offset some, if not all of the cost, of a new iPhone, especially if you're not yet eligible for an upgrade and have to pay a premium. Odds are you've already decided which capacity and color you'll be getting when the iPhone 5 drops so you have some idea of how much money you need to get out of your current iPhone to cover the purchase.

So if you don't fancy handing it down for free to a family member or using it as a backup phone, we can guide you in the right direction when it comes to selling your old iPhone and getting top dollar for it.

iPhone vs. Android vs. BlackBerry vs. Windows Phone: Which phone should you get?

iPhone vs. Android vs. BlackBerry vs. Windows Phone: Which phone should you get?

While everyone here at iMore certainly believes the iPhone is still the best phone for most people, most of the time, we're lucky that every major platform now has one or more great phones for us to choose from as well. The iPhone may have the best overall user experience, the highest quality apps and games, the widest range of services, the biggest selection of accessories, and the best customer support, but there are also things the iPhone doesn't offer that other phones do, like much larger screens, physical keyboards, high power cameras, greater hardware options, or simply no Apple about them. How do you know which one is for you? Keep reading!

If you're considering any other, specific phones:

What's the difference between iPhones?

What's the difference between iPhones?

While 'iPhone' often sounds like one, iconic thing, Apple has fielded many different models, and an incredible array of variants over the years. This year there's the state-of-the-art iPhone 5s, the pop-art iPhone 5c, and the held-over iPhone 4s. Sure, 5 sounds higher than 4, but what's the real difference between all these models? Does more money really get you more features, does saving up-front cost you in the long run, and how much phone do you really need? If you're looking to get your first iPhone, or looking to get one for family or friends, figuring it all out can be confusing. Here's what you need to know!

iPhone 5s vs. iPhone 5c vs. iPhone 4s: Which iPhone should you get?

iPhone 5s vs. iPhone 5c vs. iPhone 4s: Which iPhone should you get?

Once you know you're getting an iPhone and now, you need to decide which iPhone you want to get. While some might consider the the latest, greatest iPhone 5s a no brainer when it comes to their next purchasing decision, others might think the funner, less expensive iPhone 5c, or even the hold-over iPhone 4s is a much better value. If you're on-contract, you'll be paying a couple thousand dollars over the next couple of years anyway, so a few hundred for up-front may not matter to you. However, if you don't have that couple extra hundred up front, especially if you're going off-contract, up-front cost really will matter. It's important to really run the math on this and see what suits you best. So, premium, popular, or passé, which one should you get?

Gold vs. silver vs. space gray: Which iPhone 5s color should you get?

Gold vs. silver vs. space gray: Which iPhone 5s color should you get?

Color is one of the most visually distinctive - and personal - things about a new iPhone, which makes it one of the most important choices you'll have to make. Originally there was only one color, aluminum and black, but Apple eventually went to black and white, and now they're offering three choices for their high-end iPhone 5s: silver and gold, silver and white, and space gray and black. (The space gray and black replaces last year's slate and black, likely because it's an easier color to anodize). If you're on the fence about which color you should get, here's what you should consider.

Green vs. blue vs. yellow vs. pink vs. white: Which iPhone 5c color should get?

Green vs. blue vs. yellow vs. pink vs. white: Which iPhone 5c color should get?

More than any iPhone in history, the iPhone 5c is all about color and personality. It comes in hard coated polycarbonate - think plastic, but way classier! - in fun, vibrant shades of green, blue, yellow, pink and white. Color is so personal, so distinctive, but more colors mean more to choose from, and can also mean a more difficult choice! If you're having trouble picking your particular spot on the iPhone 5c rainbow, we're here to help!

16GB, 32GB, or 64GB: Which iPhone 5s storage size should you get?

16GB, 32GB, or 64GB: Which iPhone 5s storage size should you get?

One of the biggest decisions you have to make - literally! - when it comes to buying your new iPhone is how much storage capacity you get. The way Apple's pricing works, you get double the storage for every extra $100 your spend, which isn't really as straightforward a deal as it seems. While the iPhone 5c only has 16GB and 32GB options, the iPhone 5s has a 64GB option as well. Get more capacity than you need and you'll waste some money. Get too little and you'll experience no end of frustration. So, it's really important to weigh all the options and figure out the best price/storage ratio. Here's how it works!

Speed vs. reliability vs. value: Which iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c carrier should you get?

Speed vs. reliability vs. value: Which iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c carrier should you get?

AT&T vs. Verizon vs. Sprint vs. T-Mobile in the U.S. Rogers vs. Bell vs. TELUS in Canada. Three vs O2 vs EE vs Vodafone in the U.K. And many more around the world. Then there are various discount carriers, regionals, and MVNOs. It's a mess! How do you know which carrier will give you the fastest data speeds, or the most reliable connections, or simply the best value for your money? It all comes down to where you live, work, or go to school, and what options work best in your specific area. However, there's a lot of broad generalities that can apply. Here are some of the most important, broken down by country!

AppleCare+ vs. insurance vs. nothing: Which iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c protection plan should you get?

AppleCare+ vs. insurance vs. nothing: Which iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c protection plan should you get?

One of the last things you have to decide on when buying a new iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c is whether or not to pony up for the optional AppleCare+ protection plan. It's an additional $99 but it gives you an extra year's warranty as well as a much lower deductible if you damage and need to replace your iPhone. If you're not buying from Apple directly, you might also have the option of getting retailer, carrier, or other third-party insurance. And, of course, you have the option of getting nothing at all. Before deciding which is the best choice for you, here are some factors to consider!

Need more help?

If there's any detail you're still not 100% sure about, or any question you'd still love to get answered before you buy your brand new iPhone 5c or iPhone 5s, we have fantastic information pages that are always kept up-to-the-minute, and amazing community forums filled with experts for you to talk with. Bookmark them and check back often! And once you've decided, let us know in the comments - which iPhone did you get and why?

More coverage

WWDC 2014 wallpapers for iPhone and iPad

You know the drill. Apple has announced WWDC 2014 and that means there's new artwork to go along with it. This year it's a classic rainbow of app icon shapes whose negative space reveals the distinctive top of the Apple logo. We'll leave it to others to engage in the usual Apple-mancy, to read the artwork Apple leaves and try to determine if it means color displays on iWatch, icon scaling for a big screen iPhone 6, a new palette for iOS 8 or OS X 10.10 Syrah or — my personal choice — just a high-impact look by Apple's typically excellent graphic design team. But what's really important for now, some two months out, is... wallpapers!

Grab the iPad version up top, the iPhone version below, and rock your 6 colors from now until Keynote day!

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Seidio Surface and Ledger case for iPhone reviews

I'm checking out some of the best slim cases for the iPhone 5s and I'm starting off with two great cases from Seidio, and Surface case and the Ledger Flip case.

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ZAGG InvisibleSHIELD Arsenal case for iPhone 5s hands-on

Don't let the slim size and low price fool you, the ZAGG InvisibleSHIELD Arsenal case offers serious impact protection for your iPhone 5s. It's got a soft center and hard outer shell to both absorb energy and defend against damage. Not only that, while you can't go swimming with it, the Arsenal case will prevent rain and splashes from harming your iPhone 5s. There's even an InvisibleShield screen protector included to keep everything as scratch free as possible!

If you've been looking for impact protection without the usual bulk that comes with it, I recommend checking out the ZAGG InvisibleSHIELD Arsenal case for iPhone 5s. If all you want is the screen protector, you can get those too!

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Where could Apple go with the iPhone 6 and Apple A8 chipset?

Last year Apple launched their second generation custom CPU as part of the Apple A7 system-on-a-chip found in the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad mini Retina. Codenamed "Cyclone" it used the ARMv8 instruction set and was an industry first 64-bit. Thanks to some sleuthing and some new commit logs, Anand Lai Shimpi has presented a ton of technical details on what Apple has accomplished to date. Moreover, he's gone into the iPhone 6 and Apple A8 SoC, and what we might just see this year.

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iPhone 5s vs. HTC One M8: Camera shootout!

The iPhone 5s and the HTC One M8 arguably have two of the best smartphone cameras on the market. Sure the iPhone is 6 months old and the HTC One is brand new, but until Apple releases an iPhone 6, these are devices we have to choose from right now. The HTC One M8 tosses conventional megapixels aside in favor of UltraPixels, which is a fancy way of saying they suck in a lot of light. The iPhone 5s' iSight camera has smaller pixels, but twice as many. Even though both of them look great on paper, how they perform in the real world is what really matters. That's why we're putting the iPhone 5s and HTC One M8 head-to-head, camera-to-camera, in a full-on, in depth, photography shootout. So, which smartphone camera reigns supreme?

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What's on Richard's iPhone right now!

And so it comes back around to me, this time to guide you through what I use on my iPhone 5s. It's a little more tricky than when I talked iPad for one main reason. I use my iPhone a whole lot more and for much different reasons. If I told you about every single thing on my iPhone, we'd be here a very, very long time. You'd get bored.

That's because the majority of apps I try out – either for personal reasons or for my work here on iMore – are put onto my iPhone. Since it's always in my hand or my pocket it's a better device for this type of thing than my iPad. But, I do have a staple of apps which have a permanent home and which I use practically every day. So let's take a look at those, and my current choice of wallpaper.

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Apple engineer Greg Christie recounts the first iPhone development process

The history of the first iPhone is an interesting tale and no matter who tells it, it often involves some never before heard situations. This time around, it's one of the original iPhone engineers, Greg Christie who was made available to the WSJ ahead of the latest Apple vs. Samsung legal battle to discuss some of the development process behind the original iPhone.

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The new HTC One (M8) and the iPhone 5s

If you want an aluminum phone, you've come to the right place. The iPhone is no stranger to metal, of course. (And presumably it'll stay that course with the iPhone 6 later this year.) But today, Android smartphone manufacturer HTC announced its newest flagship with an old name — the HTC One. Like last year's version, this one's also milled from a single piece of aluminum. High-end smartphones, both.

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iPhone 5s review: 6-months later

The iPhone 5s launched roughly 6 months ago. It was greeted by the usual ennui over its unchanged design and un-embiggened screen, and skepticism over the real-world utility of its Touch ID fingerprint identity sensor and 64-bit Apple A7processor. The iSight camera was well received, even though some mourned the lack of optical image stabilization, and the new color option became the butt of late night jokes. Then it launch and Apple once again couldn't keep it on the shelves; it was veritable gold rush.

I published my original iPhone 5s review ten days later. Spoiler: Even though it was similar in so many ways to the iPhone 5, it was also better in many ways that really counted. Since then I've been using my iPhone almost every day, all day, for 6 months. So, has anything ended up being any better or any worse than I first experience? Has any of the hardware broken down or the software improved? Half a year later, how is the iPhone 5s holding up?

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Virgin Mobile dramatically cuts price of new iPhones once again

Virgin Mobile has once again slashed the price of off-contract iPhones, with an unsubsidized 16GB iPhone 5s available for $384.99. This is down from Virgin's previous low price of $460.

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