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iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c buyers guide

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!

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iPhone spec comparison

iPhoneiPhone 3GiPhone 3GSiPhone 4iPhone 4SiPhone 5iPhone 5ciPhone 5s
Code NameM68N82N88N90N94N41N48N51
Model NameiPhone 1,1iPhone 1,2iPhone 2,1iPhone 3,1iPhone 4,1iPhone 5,1iPhone 5,3iPhone 6,1
Launch OSiPhone OS 1.0iPhone OS 2.0iPhone OS 3.0iOS 4iOS 5iOS 6iOS 7iOS 7
Screen Size3.5 inches3.5 inches3.5 inches3.5 inches3.5 inches4.0 inches4.0 inches4.0 inches
Screen Resolution480x320 (163ppi)480x320 (163ppi)960x640 (326ppi)960x640 (326ppi)1136x640 (326ppi)1136x640 (326ppi)1136x640 (326ppi)1136x640 (326ppi)
Screen TypeIPS LCDIPS LCDIPS LCDIPS LCDIPS LCDIPS LCDIPS LCDIPS LCD
System-on-a-chipSamsung S5L8900Samsung S5L8900Samsung APL0298C05Apple A4Apple A5Apple A6Apple A6Apple A7
CPUARM 1176JZ(F)-SARM 1176JZ(F)-S600MHz ARM Cortex A8800MHz ARM Cortex A8800MHz dual-core ARM Cortex A91.3GHz dual-core Swift (ARM v7s)1.3GHz dual-core Swift (ARM v7s)64-bit 1.3GHz dual-core Cyclone (ARM v8)
GPUPowerVR MBX Lite 3DPowerVR MBX Lite 3DPowerVR SGX535PowerVR SGX535PowerVR dual-core SGX543MP4PowerVR triple-core SGX543MP3PowerVR triple-core SGX543MP3PowerVR G6430
Co-processornonenonenonenonenonenonenoneM7 Motion
RAM128MB128MB256MB512MB512MB1GB1GB1GB DDR3
Storage4GB/8GB/16GB8GB/16GB16GB/32GB16GB/32GB16GB/32GB/64GB16GB/32GB/64GB16GB/32GB/64GB16GB/32GB/64GB
Cellular DataEDGE3G 3.6HSPA 7.2HSPA 7.2HSPA 14.4LTE/DC-HSPALTE/DC-HSPALTE/DC-HSPA
SIMMiniMiniMiniMicroMicroNanoNanoNano
Rear Camera2MP2MP3MP/480p5MP/720p, ƒ2.8, 1.75µ8MP/1080p, ƒ/2.4, BSI, 1.4µ8MP/1080p, ƒ/2.4, BSI, 1.4µ8MP/1080p, ƒ/2.4, BSI, 1.4µ8MP/1080p, ƒ/2.2, BSI, 1.5µ
Front CameranonenonenoneVGAVGA1.2MP/720p, BSI1.2MP/720p, BSI1.2MP/720p, BSI
BluetoothBluetooth 2.0+EDRBluetooth 2.0+EDRBluetooth 2.1+EDRBluetooth 2.1+EDRBluetooth 4.0Bluetooth 4.0Bluetooth 4.0Bluetooth 4.0
Wi-Fi802.11b/g802.11b/g802.11b/g802.11b/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)
GPSnoneaGPSaGPSaGPSaGPS, GLONASSaGPS, GLONASSaGPS, GLONASSaGPS, GLONASS
SensorsAmbient light, accelerometer, proximityAmbient light, accelerometer, proximityAmbient light, accelerometer, proximity, compassAmbient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscopeAmbient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscope, infraredAmbient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscope, infraredAmbient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscope, infraredAmbient light, accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscope, infrared, fingerprint
MicSingleSingleSingleDualDualTripleTripleTriple
Connector30-pin Dock30-pin Dock30-pin Dock30-pin Dock30-pin DockLightningLightningLightning
Height4.52 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)
Width2.40 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)
Thickness0.46 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)
Weight4.72oz (135g)4.69 oz (133g)4.72oz (135g)4.83oz (137g)4.94 oz (140g)3.95oz (112g)4.66oz (132g)4.30oz (122g)
Battery1400mAh1150mAh1219mAh1420mAh1440mAh1440mAh1510mAh1560mAh
ColorsBlack and aluminumBlack/WhiteBlack/WhiteBlack/WhiteBlack/WhiteSlate and black/Silver and whiteBlue/Green/Pink/White/YellowSpace 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 Date6/29/20077/1/20086/19/20096/24/201010/14/20119/21/20129/20/20139/20/2013
Availability4 countries, 4 carriers by year-end 200770 countries, 16 carriers by year-end 200880 countries by year-end 200990 countries, 185 carriers by year-end 201070 countries, 100 carriers by year-end 2011100 countries, 240 carriers by year-end 2012100 countries, 270 carriers by year-end 2013100 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?

Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.