Smartphones head to head: Apple iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C vs Samsung Galaxy S4

Apple iPhone 5C colour line-upApple has now unleashed the latest iteration of its world-conquering smartphone but, as predicted by the rumour mill, this time round there's a twist. 

Not only do we have the anticipated yearly upgrade - with the iPhone 5S following the bi-annual evolutionary step pattern of the 3GS and 4S - but Apple devotees get a new option in the form of the iPhone 5C. 

Scuttlebutt leading up to the announcement had the 5C pegged as a budget alternative with pricing said to be in the £200-300 region, but this proved to be way off the mark and Apple has set its off-contract RRP much higher. 

In hindsight we should not have expected the 'C' to stand for 'cheap'.

Assuming you weren't one of those queuing up early doors this morning you may well be weighing up the pros and cons of a shiny new upgrade right now. But as well as considering how the new iPhone measures against its Android competition there's also the 5C into account.

How do they stack up? Let's take a look at the key features of the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C and Samsung's top-end Galaxy S4 Android superphone.

  Apple iPhone 5S
Apple iPhone 5S
Apple iPhone 5C
Apple iPhone 5C
Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4
Display 4", IPS LCD, 640 x 1136, 326 ppi 4", IPS LCD, 640 x 1136, 326 ppi 5", Super AMOLED, 1080 x 1920, 441 ppi
Processor 1.7GHz dual core 1.3GHz dual core 1.6GHz quad core
GPU PowerVR 6 PowerVR SGX 543MP3 PowerVR SGX 544MP3
Chipset Apple A7 Apple A6 Exynos 5 Octa 5410
Internal storage 16/32/64GB 16GB/32GB 16/32/64GB
Expandable memory No No MicroSD up to 64GB
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n 802.11a/b/g/n 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Connectivity Bluetooth 4.0, 'Lightning' connector Bluetooth 4.0, 'Lightning' connector Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, Infrared, microUSB
Rear camera 8MP, 3264 x 2448, dual-LED flash 8MP, 3264 x 2448, LED flash 13MP, 4128 x 3096, LED flash
Front camera 1.2MP 1.2MP 2MP
Video 1080p/30FPS 1080p/30FPS 1080p/30FPS
Sensors A-GPS & GLONASS, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass A-GPS & GLONASS, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass A-GPS & GLONASS, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, temperature, humidity
Operating system Apple iOS 7 Apple iOS 7 Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Battery capacity 1560mAh 1510mAh 2600mAh
Battery life (estimate) 250 hours standby, 10 hours talk (3G) 250 hours standby, 10 hours talk (3G) 370 hours standby, 17 hours talk (3G)
Output 3.5mm audio, Bluetooth A2DP 3.5mm audio, Bluetooth A2DP 3.5mm audio, MHL video out, Bluetooth A2DP
Weight 112g 132g 130g
Dimensions (HWD) 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm 124.4 x 59.2 x 9mm 136.6 x 69.8 x 7.9mm
Build materials Aluminium, Corning Gorilla Glass Polycarbonate, Corning Gorilla Glass  Polycarbonate, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Colours Black, white, gold White, yellow, green, blue, pink Black, white, blue
Price (SIM free) £549 (16GB) / £629 (32GB) / £709 (64GB) £469 (16GB) / £549 (32GB) £420 (16GB)

What's new in the iPhone 5S?

The iPhone 5S hasn't changed a great deal from last year's model, but there are a few notable upgrades which might prove tempting.

The 'Touch ID' sensor neatly built into the 5S home button allows the user to unlock their iPhone simply by holding a finger on the sensor for a moment. Fingerprint scanners aren't new to smartphones, but Apple has done it's usual thing of improving an existing technology so it works with the minimum amount of hassle. There's been some fuss about the security provided by Touch ID, but the fact is that any determined attacker who has your phone will probably find a way in, and Touch ID will still deter a casual thief while also saving you from having to enter a code over and over again.

The camera has seen some improvements, with an increased pixel size and aperture which greatly increases its low-light capabilities, though this won't have much of a noticeable impact on daylight shots. The iPhone 5S remains one of the better smartphone cameras out there and a perfectly serviceable alternative to point and shoot cameras for most of us. 

Perhaps the most dramatic difference is on the inside: the iPhone 5S is sporting the new Apple A7 chipset, which is not only faster than before but also makes it the first smartphone to use a 64-bit architecture. Right now this isn't going to have much of an impact but in future 64-bit optimised apps should benefit from greater processing power and superior energy efficiency.

iPhone 5C - cheaper, but is it cheerful?

The 5C is essentially identical to last year's iPhone 5. It has much the same specification with the only real change being greater support for 4G networks which means it will work on all existing and forthcoming 4G services in the UK. 

What it does is fill the role normally held by older iPhones when a new flagship is released, providing plenty of power and features at lower cost, but this time they're trying a new marketing tactic with the bright colour scheme.

Those colourful plastic shells are a big change for Apple, of course, though as Nokia cheekily pointed out they have more than a passing resemblance to the Lumia range. 

Sadly the 5C isn't as affordable as anticipated. With prices starting at £469 it's only marginally cheaper the 5S, but then Apple has never been one to chase the budget market. It's going to be more appealing to anyone on a budget, but if you're really stuck then an older iPhone 4 or 3GS off eBay would be a better option.


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