Is it worth upgrading to iPhone 5S or iPhone 5C?

Is it worth upgrading to iPhone 5S or iPhone 5C?
"Should I upgrade?" – this is the question that will keep many an iPhone 5 owner awake tonight. And we sure know why – the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C are now official and are here to succeed the said model. Half of those who own an iPhone seem to have their minds made up already, but is replacing the iPhone 5 with one of the newer iPhones really worth the expense? Well, it depends on a number of factors, primarily what one uses their iPhone for.

So let's break things down here and start with some thoughts on the high-end iPhone 5S model.

Should I upgrade to an iPhone 5S?


If performance is of utmost importance to you, or if you are an avid gamer, then replacing an iPhone 5 with an iPhone 5S makes sense. The new model is equipped with an A7 system-on-chip, which is touted as the first SoC to bring 64-bit processor architecture to a smartphone. It also has an updated instruction set with twice the general-purpose registers and twice the floating-point registers. As a result, up to twice the CPU and GPU performance should be expected, according to Apple, so apps will be executed faster while games will be loaded with more eye-candy. And speaking of games, Apple has brought OpenGL ES 3.0 support to the iPhone 5S. The tech will allow top-of-the-line games, such as Infinity Blade III, to look amazing. Not that the A6 inside the iPhone 5 isn't fast, of course, but if you demand the very best, then the newer model should be right for you.

In addition to the new chip, the iPhone 5S packs an upgraded camera. Its resolution stays at 8MP as before, but the tech around the module itself has been taken to the next level. That is why the iPhone 5S camera might be worth upgrading for in case you use your iPhone as your primary camera. For example, there's a new lens system on the iPhone 5S. Its sensor comes with 15% larger pixels and wider aperture, which should result in improved low-light photos. Speaking of which, the new dual-LED flash should now deliver better color tones when used. On top of all that, you get slow-motion video at 720p and intelligent software that takes multiple shots each time you press the shutter, then leaves only the best pic in the bunch. 

There's more that makes the iPhone 5S special, but the rest of the new features it introduces don't really fall in the "must-have" category. Having a fingerprint sensor, for example, is undoubtedly pretty neat, but it isn't really something worth upgrading for. The new gold color is also very good-looking, but it is just a new paint-job that you won't be noticing much a week after buying an iPhone 5S. Besides, you'll probably place the handset in a case anyway, so its color won't matter as much. 

Should I upgrade to an iPhone 5C?


Now that's a question that isn't as tricky to answer, and we're leaning towards a negative response. That's because switching to an iPhone 5C from an iPhone 5 wouldn't be an upgrade really, rather a downgrade in some ways. For example, the iPhone 5C is heavier and thicker, not to mention that it sports a colored plastic shell, while the iPhone 5 is slim, light, and made of metal. And since they share the same 4-inch Retina display, the same A6 processor, and an identical 8MP camera, then you can't expect any improvements in these categories either. Even on the software side, both smartphones will get iOS 7 and will run any app from Apple's software marketplace.

However, the iPhone 5C would be a great pick for those who are still holding on to an iPhone 4S or an older iPhone model. In fact, that's the audience we assume Apple is targeting the handset at – them and those switching over from another platform, yet can't afford getting the 5S model. Or any youngster looking for a colorful mid-range handset. All in all, the iPhone 5C should not be underestimated as it would be one of the best mid-range smartphones around once it is released so keep an eye out if that's the kind of smartphone you're looking for.

Related phones

iPhone 5s
  • Display 4.0" 640 x 1136 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A7, Dual-core, 1300 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 1570 mAh(10h 3G talk time)
iPhone 5c
  • Display 4.0" 640 x 1136 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A6, Dual-core, 1300 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB
  • Battery 1507 mAh(10h 3G talk time)

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59 Comments

1. apple4never

Posts: 1064; Member since: May 08, 2013

5c is a waste get the iphone 5 on kijiji or craigslist for 400. 100$ less than the 5c and have tos of case options from the start or, get a 5s

49. imran86

Posts: 208; Member since: Sep 14, 2012

When a new iphone is released, the previous model price decreases about a $100, now why would someone buy Iphone 5C that has the specs of iphone 5 with plastic body when they can get a new 5 at the same price and specs?

51. simplynutty

Posts: 3; Member since: Sep 11, 2013

The iPhone 5 will no longer be for sale. Instead of dropping the price on the current model Apple is introducing a legitimate lower cost model along side it's flagship phone. I use an iPhone 4 and passed on the iPhone 5 last year but am interested in an iPhone 5C. I will get it for cheaper than those who bought the 5 last year. :) Smartphones are all good enough these days. Don't buy into the hype that each new model is that much better, regardless of brand.

56. Beefiron

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 16, 2013

Your logic is pretty wrong-headed. The 5c is a direct replacement for the 5, but it's thicker, heavier, and made of cheaper materials. The battery is the only feature it has that beats the 5. Yes, the 5c is €100 cheaper than the 5 was at launch, but the 5 is a year old now, and so is cheaper now that a new 5c. On what level does it make sense to get a 5c over a 5, right now? And yes, I know the 5 has been discontinued, but you can still get one for a while.

57. simplynutty

Posts: 3; Member since: Sep 11, 2013

@Beefiron Wrong-headed? It's just an opinion. I believe buying a 5C makes sense on the level that I would like to spend less money. Is that such a crazy idea? I think not or companies wouldn't bother offering products at various price points. Aside from those reading about tech. and posting comments on blogs, most people don't care that the 5C is a tweaked version of the iPhone 5. It's a newly released product which will sell better than simply downgrading the 5. Not everyone has talked themselves into needing whatever some company says is the latest and greatest. I pre-ordered a 5C for my wife and I'm undecided as to wether I'll grab a 5S or stick with my 4.

58. Beefiron

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 16, 2013

Sorry - maybe it was a little extreme to call it wrong-headed. I'd like to address a few of your points to show my problem with your logic/opinion. You say "I will get it for cheaper than those who bought the 5 last year. :)" Well, of course you'll get last year's specs for cheaper than they cost last year. How is that in any way good for you? The 5c has a new design, but the internals of the phone are almost identical to those of the 5. It is selling for the same price now as the 5 would be (now) if it were still available. I also find it interesting that you use the phrase "simply downgrading the 5". You have used the word 'downgrading', which has negative connotations, to describe Apple's previous policy of 'reducing the price' of the existing model when a new one is introduced. How is reducing the price of the 5 a downgrade of that model? I'd finally like to offer a scenario and have your honest opinion on it: Suppose Apple followed their usual pattern by reducing the price of the 5, but also introduced the 5c at the same price, giving you 3 options: The 5 @ $99, the 5c @ $99 and the 5s at $199. What would you have bought for your wife, given those options? What would you buy for yourself? I'm gneuinely interested in this, so please reply if you have time. For me, the 5c is the 5 wrapped in cheaper materials and sold at the same price. I don't see the value in it over the 5, and I think discontinuing the 5 was just a cynical move by Apple to shift more of the 5c and the 5s, because the 5 would have cannibalised the sales of both.

59. simplynutty

Posts: 3; Member since: Sep 11, 2013

@Beefiron I think you are making an assumption that a person should only ever purchase the best (subjective to opinion) device available. If you take away that assumption then what I'm saying makes more sense. I'd love a Tesla Model S but it's not a smart financial move right now so when my Corolla was totalled I picked up a 2010 Jetta TDI. Was it wrong to buy an older care instead of a fancy new one? I know that's a bit apples and oranges but the differences in the cost of a phone when combined with the high cost of some plans is enough to make a lower priced phone worth it. Also remember the context in which a person might be upgrading. If I had an iPhone 5 then it would be silly to pick up the 5C unless I was in love with the fruity colors. However I have an iPhone 4 and passed on both the 4S and 5 so despite being a tweaked version of the 5, the 5C would be a major upgrade. I didn't mean to imply anything negative toward the 5 by using the word downgrading. Perhaps shifting is a better choice. In either case I didn't come up with the model of offering older models for a cheaper price on the arrival of new a product. In the scenario where there are 3 models available then I'm not sure what I would have bought my wife. I sent her the page showing both new phones and she was the one who picked the 5C. I assumed she'd want a white (silver?) 5S but I was wrong. Apple must know my wife better than I do. :) I'm guessing the presence of the 5 wouldn't make her choose a 5S so if she chose a 5 it would essentially be the same choice as a 5C right? I have to think Apple believes the mental aspect of it being a newly released device (not to be confused with significantly new device) vs. a discounted older model would yield better results. Wether Apple's move was a good one or not is fuzzy. I guess we'll wait for the numbers. What do you think might happen if they went with tradition and didn't create a 5C? Someone used to buy the previous year models but I'm not sure who and if it was profitable. I bit the bullet and decided to go for the 5S and I'm waiting for the AT&T store to open now. I forgot that even if I'm happy with the 4 I'd be missing out on LTE speeds. To be honest I was unhappy after upgrading my phone to iOS 7 that I was considering checking out an android phone and/or possibly switching to an MVNO to save money. Crazy right? :)

2. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

I'll sum up the whole article in less than twenty seconds. If you have a iPhone 4 or 4S, yes the upgrade is worth it. iPhone 5? No. Different OS? Sure, but you'll notice the difference between what you're used to what you're forced to get used to. All done.

6. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

I can sum it up even easier. Don't get an iphone.

7. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

I was debating between getting the Note 3 and the iPhone 5S. Guess who I'm throwing my money to on October 2?

16. 1113douglas

Posts: 200; Member since: Jul 04, 2013

NOTE 3 IS IS IN A WHOLE DIFFERENT BALL PARK!

33. RoyalPayne

Posts: 458; Member since: Aug 07, 2013

Coz it was knocked out of the real park by Sony Z1! =D

23. darkkjedii

Posts: 31019; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Enjoy the note 3 Smurf, it's a beast of a device. You can't go wrong with it. I think next year will be an even better year for phones, Sammy apple, and HTC will all have major redesigns.

36. tedkord

Posts: 17349; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

We dint know that yet. It does look like a beast, though.

52. sriuslywtf

Posts: 297; Member since: Jul 09, 2013

Agree, to date, Note 3 offers more practical applications. Not saying that 5s aint good, but compare to note3, Note 3 is way more practical. If you can wait for a little while, you might as well get the Iphone 6 to see major improvements. Best option? Get them both. With Note and Iphone combo, you can never go wrong.

54. garlic456

Posts: 251; Member since: Dec 24, 2012

Wait for the Xperia Z1 Mini, man.

15. Gemmol

Posts: 793; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

this the same with every other phone......galaxy note to galaxy note 2 is not a big change.....galaxy 2 to galaxy 3 was not a big change.......n any other phone.......if you want a big change wait 2 years to upgrade....if you got the 4s then going to 5s would be best thing.....but if you got the iphone 5 then wait for iphone 6.......

17. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Changes in the OG Note to Note 2 and the GS2 to GS3 were the greatest leap forward for Samsung. GS3 successfully sold well over 30 million devices and Note 2 sold over 10 million.

42. maccess

Posts: 742; Member since: Jan 16, 2013

c'mon smurf.. gs3 has sold more than 50 million now..

8. GeekMovement unregistered

Well, the iPhone5S will surely be a huge upgrade for apple fans out there because all they know is the iPhone and it is slightly better than the iPhone5 so ... they\'ll most likely cash in on it.

9. kanagadeepan

Posts: 1255; Member since: Jan 24, 2012

The title must be "Are you really upgrading by buying iPhone5S or 5c"????

12. Satnamreg

Posts: 29; Member since: Aug 23, 2013

Apple RIP

29. rodneyej1

Posts: 3576; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

That\'s not likely... To many sheep.

13. bfuller2006

Posts: 85; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

I currently have a White Galaxy S4 not really interested in an iPhone but id get one just to get the gold one, that one is pretty.

18. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Not trying to sound like a douchebag or anything, but did you just say 'pretty?'

21. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

In my opinion gold iPhone looks tasteless.

37. tedkord

Posts: 17349; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Gold is gaudy. But the gray/black one is beautiful.

14. rodneyej1

Posts: 3576; Member since: Jul 06, 2013

My Nokia Lumia 920 is still light years ahead of this... The 1020 is way better than this, and the 1520 will blow this away... iOS7 just seems to be a copy of WP, but it does look a lot better.. With all that said,, No❕.. iPhones quit being worth it long time ago.. Nevertheless, this is just my opinion, and I'm sure many will enjoy their new iPhones as usual,, bit that's only because they most likely are to scared to try anything else.......

19. PhoneArenaUser

Posts: 5498; Member since: Aug 05, 2011

I think that it doesn\'t worth, better wait for iPhone 6.

20. guest

Posts: 372; Member since: Jun 13, 2012

We are going to read about the iPhone 5c in business class text books of what not to do. Imagine you are an adult and want to upgrade would you pick up the Fisher Price version or the sophisticated adult version? Think Chinese people are any different? Which serious exec would pull out a 5c during a business meeting? The \"discount\" for the 5c is a joke as well. They should have stuck to their normal discounting schedule and released a 5c that was seriously cheaper with less features. The 5c is pointless. I would be scouring eBay for a used 5 over the 5c.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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