iPhone 5S 16GB OR iPhone 5C 32GB – Which Should I Buy?


Here’s the predicament everyone’s thinking about: the 16 GB iPhone 5S and the 32 GB iPhone 5C cost the same ($199 on contract, $649 on SIM-free/T-Mobile). So which one should you be buying?

If performance and having the latest iPhone was your concern, the iPhone 5S obviously wins hands-down. But considering that an iPhone 4S, released two years back, still works excellently and has competitive features in the smartphone market, we’re going to be at a cross-road trying to decide on the final selection.

The iPhone 5C is basically just the iPhone 5 in a steel-re-inforced plastic shell. It should, technically, feel the same except that you’ll be seeing colors on the back.

The iPhone 5S is no different in terms of looks except for that home button and the grey tone (gold too) but it’s a whole new world underneath the shell.

So Joe thinks of buying an iPhone 5S but for the same price, he can get an-almost-equally-good iPhone (5C) with twice the memory. That’s where the confusion kicks in.

Anyway, here are some of the core features where each phone has a genuine upper hand over the other:

One of the areas where Apple has worked very consistently and produced good results is the camera. On the iPhone 5C, the camera is pretty much the same as that on iPhone 5 (8MP, standard Apple camera). But on the iPhone 5S, Apple has leaped by a few miles. Here’s what’s interesting:

  • The 8 MP camera produces more resolution with the 1.5µm sensor. I think HTC was making fun of this but it matters a lot actually – both to Apple and to customers.
  • iPhone 5S’s camera has a f/2.2 aperture. Greater depth of field means more DSLR-like photos.
  • True Tone Flash means the LED flash is going to be as natural a light source under whatever environment you put it.
  • Interestingly, the camera is even more powerful in clicking crisp pictures. It does this by capturing multiple photos and picking the best ones – all within fractions of a second.

If camera is one of the main concerns, iPhone 5S 16GB wins hands-down.

TouchID Fingerprint Security
Obviously, this one’s for kicks. Although it’s so interesting as a feature and I’m sure it will change a lot in usability, but it’s a fancy feature in so far as security is concerned. TouchID does not change security largely. It works more as an easier way of authenticating your purchases, unlocking your iPhone etc.

As a feature, I think this should not be a major factor in your decision. If you’re used to an iPhone 4,4S already, iPhone 5C should be great.

The Performance
The CPU in iPhone 5S wins totally. It does not blow the competition out but it’s like the iPad 4 refresh that Apple threw as a surprise last October. The iPhone 5S is packed with A7 SoC which, Apple says, is 40% faster.

The iPhone 5C is not inferior as such but in comparison, the iPhone 5S leads here. The iPhone 5C should begin showing tell-tale signs of slowing down in late 2014 with more iOS 7 upgrades and stuff but that will still be manageable.

However, if you’re looking to stay ahead of the curve, the iPhone 5S is the best investment here.

Memory: iPhone 5C
Well, if you’re looking for more space, iPhone 5C’s 32GB for your $199 should be the obvious choice. There are a few users whose primary use of the iPhone is iMessage, Music, texting/calling, and a little web browsing. May be add a few small arcade games. This means good memory and iPhone 5C wins here.

Variety and Coolness: iPhone 5C
One more thing about the iPhone 5C is that it breaks the traditional monochrome of Apple’s color palette for iPhones. With this model, Apple’s breaking new ground: colorful iPhones. And they’re not inferior in terms of spec, either.

Ultimately, while there is no concrete way to put one of the iPhones over the other, the idea is to pick based not on fancy features that you’ll use only rarely but on things that you will be making use of – a lot.