Less than a year after the release of the iPhone 5, Apple is taking it back off the market in favor of two new iPhone models. The iPhone 5c packs all the power of last year's landmark device in new, candy-coated packages, yet it costs just $99 with service plan renewal. Meanwhile, the iPhone 5s has twice the power and performance of its predecessor, and adds some new camera and security features that have never been seen before on smartphones. Whether you're on a budget or you crave next-gen technology, Apple has you covered.
iPhone 5c: Does Plastic Make Perfect?
As the new entry-level iPhone, the iPhone 5c takes the guts of last year's iPhone 5 and slips them into a polycarbonate plastic shell. That shell is smooth, seamless and beautifully glossy, yet rigid enough to take a lot more punishment than earlier models. The phone's front face is the same silky black glass we've come to know and love, but its new plastic shell makes a bold statement in one of five gleaming colors: bright white, lime green, sky blue, lemon yellow and valentine pink.
A few of the iPhone 5c's internal components have been replaced for better performance. Its new steel antenna doubles as reinforcement for the phone's plastic shell. This opens up some room inside the case for a larger battery and a new HD camera on the front of the phone perfect for HD Facetime calls with your friends and loved ones. And of course, the device will run iOS 7, Apple's completely redesigned mobile operating system. Each phone even comes pre-loaded with a wallpaper that's color-matched to its polycarbonate shell.
iPhone 5s: The World's First 64-bit Phone
While the iPhone 5c is the perfect choice if you're on a budget, the iPhone 5s is probably the best smartphone you can buy. Every other phone still uses 32-bit architecture on its CPU. They can't compete with the 64-bit processors you'd find in modern desktop computers. Apple's new A7 chip, designed specifically for the iPhone 5s, is the world's first 64-bit processor for smartphones. It's twice as fast at the iPhone 5's A6 chip and just about every other phone on the market, to boot.
One of the features the new 64-bit chip powers is enhanced camera hardware and software. The five-element lens on the back of the phone sports a larger aperture and a bigger sensor with wider, 1.5-micron pixels. This adds up to richer colors and sharper images, but it's just the beginning. Apple has paired the camera with a new LED flash that can change its color to warmer or cooler tones to match the ambient light in a scene.
Every photo the iPhone 5s camera takes is, in fact, a series of photos that the new 64-bit chip sorts through and combines into a stabilized, sharpened image, in real time. The camera can shoot in burst mode at 10 frames per second, with every one of those frames getting the same stabilization and sharpening treatment as single photos would. You can even take video at 120 frames per second, which gives you the option of watching portions of your movies back in slow motion.
Along with the new processor and the much-improved camera, the iPhone 5s packs a third feature: Touch ID. A 360-degree fingerprint scanner has been integrated into the iPhone 5s home button, completely removing the need for passcodes to lock your phone or buy music from iTunes. The scanner uses a sapphire lens and a specialized Touch ID sensor to take pictures of the sub-epidermal layers of your finger. It then cross-checks the images against security data that's encrypted and stored on an isolated part of the new A7 chip nothing else on the chip can ever see or interact with the data, and it's never stored on iCloud, so your fingerprint can't be stolen.
Tried and True or Fresh and New?
Now you have a decision to make: In the iPhone 5s vs. 5c battle, which do you buy? If you're on a budget, the iPhone 5c is the clear choice. With the proven might of the iPhone 5 nestled beneath that new candy-coated shell, it's a $99 phone with a Retina display, a beautiful camera, the new iOS 7 operating system, and all the applications you can download from Apple's App Store. On the other hand, if you're interested in experiencing a smartphone that's twice as fast as anything else on the market, with new security technology and a camera that will take DSLR-quality pictures, the iPhone 5s will make your year.