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

iPhone 5c review: 6-months later

Editor's note: The iPhone 5c was released 6 months ago today. Since I've been using the iPhone 5s almost exclusively since then I wanted someone else, someone who's been using the iPhone 5c day in and day out, to write the follow up for Apple's other new phone. Someone perhaps not as steeped in the world of Apple and technology. So... I asked my mom. Here's her review.— Rene

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China Mobile added 1 million iPhone customers in February alone

Apple's new iPhone partnership with China Mobile looks to be off to a good start with the carrier announcing it added around 1 million iPhone customers to its 4G network in just February alone. Better still, the iPhone accounted for the large majority of customers joining China Mobile's 4G service.

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Best wallet cases for iPhone

Pad & Quill vs. Twelve South vs. DODOcase vs. Ayano Kimura vs. Vaja in the ultimate iPhone wallet case showdown!

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Eight Android phones to buy instead of the 8 GB iPhone 5c

Apple on Tuesday quietly introduced a new iPhone 5c model to select European and Asian markets today with a lower price tag but half the storage capacity; 8 GB, for - in the UK anyway, about £40 less than its 16 GB counterpart. Interested in what else you can get for the money? How about Android phones?

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Apple launches 8GB iPhone 5c, on sale today

After first hearing about it yesterday, Apple's 8GB iPhone 5c has today gone on sale in the UK. So far the Apple Store and UK carrier, O2, have both added the new option to its listings and will sell it from today. The unsubsidized Apple price is £429, which represents only a £40 saving on the 16GB model.

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Ayano Shadow wallet case for iPhone review

Bling my Thing's Ayano Kimura Shadow wallet case for iPhone 5s and and iPhone 5 is for those who want something closer to a wallet than a case. Not only does it fit your iPhone snugly, it has a full-sized pocket for your paper money so you don't have to fold or otherwise mangle your bills just to carry them around. And... there's a change purse and even a key holder!

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How can Apple avoid another iPhone 5c?

Apple doesn't break out sales numbers for individual iPhone models, but other companies keep an eye on things. And since the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s were introduced last fall, one thing's become clear: the iPhone 5c sales haven't burned up the charts. How can Apple avoid that going forward?

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Best iPhone carrier in 2014

There was a time when major U.S. carrier — Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile — plans and rates were constant. We'd constantly pay too much and they'd constantly give us okay to terrible service in return. But now the constant is changing. Whether it's a reflection of the maturing smartphone market or simply the results of one carrier going rogue is arguable. What's not arguably is that a lot has happened changed from when we last compared carriers back when the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c launched in September of 2013. That means we have to take another look at what the Big Four offer, and help you figure out how to get the best bang for your buck.

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Apple rumored to be readying an 8GB iPhone 5c for launch... tomorrow? [updated]

Word is beginning to filter through the web that Apple is set to announce an 8GB variant of the iPhone 5c tomorrow. At least in Europe, anyway. The various mutterings arrive along with a report from UK site Coolsmartphone that claims to have received a tip off that at least 2 UK carriers have stocks already arriving ahead of launch:

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Is iOS 7.1 worth giving up your jailbreak for?

iOS 7.1 brings a few new features, some great accessibility updates, and some much needed bug fixes to the iPhone and iPad. If you want it, however, you're going to have to give up your jailbreak to get it. That's because, unlike iOS 7.0.x, iOS 7.1 has been jailbroken yet and, as is increasingly the case, there's no word yet on when or how long it'll be until iOS 7.1 is jailbroken. So, is iOS 7.1 enough of an improvement that you'd be willing to give up your tweaks, customizations, and jailbreak apps?

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