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

2013 iPhone buyers guide: How to choose the perfect gold/white, silver/white, or space gray/black iPhone 5s for you!

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.

Distraction dangers

Both the gold/white and silver/white iPhone 5s have white faceplates, which means white is the color you'll see most when looking at the screen - something you'll be doing a lot. TV sets are almost always black for a reason: when you're watching a show or a movie, or playing a game, you want the TV set to disappear, so you can enjoy what you're doing without noticing a big colored rim around it.

The same goes for the iPhone. Some people find having a white faceplate very distracting when they're watching videos or gaming, and others just don't like the contrast between the white border and the black screen when the device is off. It's very "panda". Conversely, if you do more messaging than media, white can actually blend better into Messages, Mail, Safari, etc.

I've had both a Black & Slate and a White & Silver iPhone 5, and a black and white iPhone 4, and have never been distracted nor irked by either one. If a white faceplate catches your eye, however, you might want to stick with black.

Discoloration doubts

Rumor has it Apple delayed the launch of the white iPhone 4 in order to improve the UV protection and prevent discoloration. Regardless, they took a long time to figure it out and get it right, and the white iPhone 4 has been on the market for over two and half years now and there haven't been any widespread accounts of discoloration. My own white iPhone 4 looks as white now as it did the day I bought it back in 2011.

So, whether you get the iPhone 5s in white and silver or white and gold, you won't have anything to worry about.

Coolness concerns

Black is almost always the most popular color for electronics and electronics accessories. That's why it's so common. It's literally the hot little black number. However, true black is incredibly hard to anodize, which is why the dark iPhone 5 was closer to charcoal and the iPhone 5s is closer to graphite. Gray may not look as cool as blackout black, but it'll likely still be the default for many people.

That said, some people just love white phones. At the end of the day, you need to buy what you like. White iPhones stand out more and can be more obvious with brightly colored cases. Black phones tend to disappear more, and let the accessories be the star.

Likewise, for some people gold looks hot, or portents prosperity. Others might worry it comes off as chintzy or tacky. It's neither of those things. It's just new. If you like it, if it appeals to you, if it represents what you want in an iPhone color, than it absolutely doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.

Withstanding wear

The iPhone 5s has an aluminum unibody. On the silver iPhones, it's clear coated but not otherwise treated. That means if there's a scratch or chip, it's not particularly noticeable unless the light hits it just so. The space gray iPhone is anodized. That means if there's a scratch or chip, it may be more easily noticeable under a wider range of lighting conditions.

Some people don't care. Like any great object, some people feel wear makes it look even better. Call it Millennium Falcon chic. However, the old iPhone 5 slate and black iPhone showed damage a lot more, which is probably why the new one is space gray and black instead. Apple may have mitigated a lot of the previous concerns with this change. Only time will tell.

If the idea of wear bothers you, however, you'll want to skew towards the white models.

Cases closed

Cases closed

For many people the color of the phone they get is of only passing concern, because they'll lock it up in a case the moment it leaves the box. However, depending on the case areas of the iPhone 5s will still show through. Many don't cover the face plate. Some cut out the Apple logo and the buttons and ports.

Just because you're wearing a jacket doesn't mean the clothes you have on beneath won't still peak through. Choose a color you love, then add a case you love to it to complete the look. (They're accessories because they accessorize!). If you already have a case you love, pick the iPhone 5s color that either makes it pop (black) or helps it shine (white). Either way, make sure you love the phone you get regardless of the accessories you may or may not add - or keep - to it later.

Who should get the space gray and black iPhone 5s?

If you want a color that won't distract you when you game or watch video, that absolutely won't discolor, even if it does show wear and tear a little more visibly, that's closer to timeless even if it's also more reserved, then get the space gray and black iPhone 5s.

It's the classic for a reason.

Who should get the silver and white iPhone 5s?

If you want a color that draws more attention in its own right and stands out better from the crowd (without being overly fussy about it), that may be more of a distraction but that doesn't show damage as much, then get the silver and white iPhone 5s.

Apple's senior vice-president of design, Jony Ive, is most often seen with it, after all.

Who should get the gold and white iPhone 5s?

If you want everyone to know that you have the latest, greatest iPhone 5s, and you want to stand out as much as possible while doing so, that you're also not as easily distracted and enjoy that it doesn't show damage as much, then get the gold and white iPhone 5s.

It's the bling thing.

Still undecided?

If you're still not sure about gold and white, silver and white, or space gray and black - or as I like to think of them, Threepio gold, Stormtrooper white, and Fett gray - jump into our iPhone discussion forums and the best community in mobile will happily help you out.

At the end of the day, the only real answer is get the color you like better. Everything else is manufactured anxiety at this point. Just close your eyes, picture your iPhone in your hand, and carefully look at what color you're picturing. Then buy that. And if you change your mind later, you can get a case. Once you've decided, though, et me know - which color did you go with and why?