We use the term loosely, but the iPhone is no longer a “one size fits all” smartphone. Today’s Apple event marked the introduction of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, and beyond price, the two devices are separated by several unique features. Considering your own desires for gaming, photography, security, style — and yes, your budget — it’s likely that one phone is a better fit for your needs. So join us after the break as we explore the finer points of Apple’s latest smartphones.
Apple’s 64-bit A7 mobile processor takes center stage in the iPhone 5s, which promises twice the computing and graphics performance as compared to the iPhone 5c. Naturally, the new chip positions the iPhone 5s as a better fit for gamers (which supports OpenGL ES 3.0), but it also offers unique advantages photographers. Thanks to the A7 chip, you can shoot slow-motion 720p video at 120 fps, and as for stills, you’ll find a burst-shooting mode that captures up to 10 images per second. Digital image stabilization is also in the mix this time around, which is important for low-light photography.
Speaking of low-light situations, the iPhone 5s captures more light in two ways. First, it features a new lens setup with a wider f/2.2 aperture (as compared to f/2.4 in the iPhone 5c), along with an imaging sensor that’s 15 percent larger. And for times when ambient light alone won’t cut it, the iPhone 5s includes a new dual-LED flash dubbed True Tone that promises better color balance and more natural skin tones.
Regardless of your age or occupation, you probably have private data that you’d prefer keep to yourself. Yes, a security code on the lock screen is a relatively effective method, but the iPhone 5s offers a more convenient — and potentially more secure — alternative that relies on fingerprint-scanning. The setup is known as Touch ID, which integrates a fingerprint reader into the phone’s home button. In addition to serving as a lock screen unlock method, the new Touch ID system can eliminate the hassle of typing in your password every time you purchase apps, music and books.
Apple’s new M7 motion-sensing coprocessor probably wasn’t on your list of must-haves within a new smartphone, but it opens an intriguing new way of measuring your physical activity. If you’ve ever wanted to keep tabs on your exercise but considered fitness bracelets too much of a hassle, the iPhone 5s might eliminate the need for wearable accessories. We still need to see how many app developers actually leverage the chip, but as an encouraging sign, Nike is already in the ring with its new Nike+ Move app. Beyond that, the M7 coprocessor also introduces new conveniences in everyday use. For example, during navigation, the iPhone 5s will automatically adjust directions when you stop driving and proceed on foot to your destination.
Needless to say, the iPhone 5s is the more refined and professional-looking of the two smartphones, which features an aluminum enclosure that’s available in three finishes: gold, silver and space gray. When compared to the iPhone 5c — which offers 16GB or 32GB of internal storage — the iPhone 5s is the only one of the pair to feature a 64GB option. Beyond storage, the iPhone 5s is well-suited for globe trotters, thanks to its support for a dizzying array of up to 13 different LTE bands, along with quadband GSM / EDGE and pentaband UMTS / HSPA+ support.
Pricing: $199 (16GB), $299 (32GB), $399 (64GB) on-contract; $649 (16GB) $749 (32GB), $849 (64GB) unlocked
The bottom line: The iPhone 5s packs many niceties, but few necessities. Still, if it’s within your budget, it’s easily the more capable of the two smartphones.