iPhone 5 vs iPhone 5c

What is the Difference Between the iPhone 5 and 5c?

Are you trying to decide between the iPhone 5 vs iPhone 5C? While they have almost identical specs, these two models aren’t exactly the same. Yes, one is super colourful, but there isn’t just one fundamental difference between iPhone 5 and 5c. Instead, Apple made a handful of small tweaks and changes between the models. While these differences might have seemed subtle back then, they have wound up having a big impact on what it’s like to actually use one of these phones today.

Here are the main differences that you should know about.

At A Glance: iPhone 5 vs iPhone 5C

difference between iPhone 5 and 5C Diagram

iPhone 5

Released: September, 2012

Discontinued: September 2013

Compatibility in Canada: If Unlocked…

  • Rogers and its subcarriers
  • Telus and its subcarriers
  • Bell and its subcarriers
  • Limited: Freedom Mobile (certain models)

Current iOS Updates: No longer supported

Last iOS Version Supported: iOS 10.3.2 (May, 2017)

Colours: White, Black

Storage: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB

iPhone 5C

Released: September, 2013

Discontinued: September, 2015

Compatibility in Canada: If Unlocked…

  • Rogers and its subcarriers
  • Telus and its subcarriers
  • Bell and its subcarriers
  • Freedom Mobile

Current iOS Updates: No longer supported

Last iOS Version Supported: iOS 10.3.2 (May, 2017)

Colours: White, Pink, Yellow, Blue, Green

Storage: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB

Performance and Power

The iPhone 5 is powered by an Apple A6 System on Chip, a 32-bit processor, and has 1GB of RAM. After it’s release in 2013, the iPhone 5 was assessed to have 2.5 times better performance than its predecessor, the iPhone 4S. And just like the iPhone 5, the 5C is powered by an Apple A6 System on Chip, a 32-bit processor, and has 1GB of RAM. However, today in 2017, a 64-bit processor is considered standard, which neither the iPhone 5 or 5C is equipped with. That means you might experience lagging when using apps or multi-tasking when using either phone.

Camera

Both phones feature a 8mp back camera and 1.2mp front camera, facial recognition, and optical image stabilization.

Battery

The iPhone 5 is powered by a 1440mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery. This provides 225 hours of standby time and 8 hours of active talk time. In contrast, the iPhone 5C uses a 1510mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery. This provides 250 hours of standby time and 10 hours of active talk time, which beats out the iPhone 5 by a small (but not insignificant) margin.

Appearance

The overall design of the iPhone 5 has been carried over into later models like the iPhone 5S and SE, regarded as “the golden child of Apple phone design and a benchmark for phones in general”. The iPhone 5 features an aluminium-composite frame, which is about 4.8 inches tall, 2.3 inches wide, and only .3 inches thick.

In contrast, the iPhone 5C is the most colourful option out of Apple’s device lineup, using a coloured polycarbonate housing for the phone’s exterior. The change in material increases the iPhone 5C’s overall thickness compared to the iPhone 5 and increases its weight by about 20 grams.

Ports and Connections

The iPhone 5 has a bottom mounted headphone jack, separate Lightning connector charging port, and takes a Nano-sized SIM card. The iPhone 5 comes in 3 different sub-models, each supporting a different set of frequency bands. Because different carriers use different radio frequencies, switching between carriers on your iPhone 5 can be tricky— especially if you’re outside of North America. In Canada, the iPhone 5 will work on most major wireless networks if your phone is unlocked. The only notable exception is Freedom Mobile, which has limited compatibility with the iPhone 5.

The iPhone 5C has a bottom mounted headphone jack, separate Lightning connector charging port, and takes a Nano-sized SIM card. Unlike the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5C supports a wide range of frequency bands. In Canada, the iPhone 5C will work on most major wireless networks if your phone is unlocked, including Freedom Mobile.

 

The Big-Impact Difference Between iPhone 5 and 5C

Carrier Compatibility

Some people have been with the same carrier for 10+ years and they don’t plan on switching anytime soon. If that’s you, then I envy the stability you have in your life. A lot of people, especially those that travel, will care about their phone not holding them back when it comes to switching carriers. Choosing an iPhone 5 will ultimately give you fewer options abroad for LTE coverage in particular. Inside of Canada, only some iPhone 5 models will work across every single carrier. If you don’t feel like risking it, just opt for the iPhone 5C.

AppearanceBack of an iPhone 5 To Compare iPhone 5CBack of iPhone 5C To Compare iPhone 5

Honestly, this is probably the biggest difference between iPhone 5 and 5C. If you’re thinking about buying an iPhone 5 or 5C, think about which look you prefer. Yes, there are small variations in the hardware but these won’t impact your day-to-day experience for the most part. What you will notice is how your phone will feel in your hands and how durable it is, which is especially important if you’re buying used.

The iPhone 5 uses aluminum with a black or silver coating, depending on whether you buy the black or white model. This coating is notoriously easy to chip off, which is an issue that Apple has luckily addressed in later models. So while you can buy an iPhone 5 and take advantage of all the sleekness that it’s frame has to offer, you might want to avoid it if you’re looking for something that ages gracefully.

The iPhone 5C on the other hand is made out of a bright plastic material, which can scratch but doesn’t show damage in the same way the iPhone 5 does. That being said, the iPhone 5C does end up being a bit thicker and heavier as a result of the switch in materials. Probably not a deal breaker, but definitely worth noting.

Differences You Probably Won’t Notice

Battery Life

The iPhone 5C has a slightly upgraded 1510mAh battery compared to the iPhone 5’s 1440mAh version. In actual talk time, Apple says that you could see an extra 2 hours to your battery life if you’re using an iPhone 5C. That being said, we are filing this under “Differences You Probably Won’t Notice” because there is literally so much that goes into how long your battery lasts, the actual hardware difference here is negligible.

Camera Quality

Apple improved the front (selfie) camera on the iPhone 5C ever so slightly. It has the same megapixels as the iPhone 5, though a slightly different assembly so that the iPhone 5C’s camera can better handle photos in low light. Still, I can’t imagine anyone could tell the difference between iPhone 5 and 5C’s camera quality side-by-side.

Age

Once upon a time, we thought that because the iPhone 5 was produced earlier than the iPhone 5C, Apple would stop supporting iOS updates to the 5 sooner. We were wrong. In May of this year, Apple announced that iOS 11 and all future updates would only work on phones with 64-bit processors. That means that neither the iPhone 5 or 5C will have the latest software updates. And iOS updates is probably the biggest factor in figuring out whether an older iPhone will hold up with time. Everything else varies between individual iPhones because it has more to do with how a phone has been maintained over time and the condition its in.

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 5C: Our Verdict On Which is Better

Overall Winner: iPhone 5CWe Choose the iPhone 5C as a Better Buy

Looking at the specs alone, the iPhone 5C is the better phone between the two.

The biggest way you’ll see this play out is through the 5C’s ability to work on more networks worldwide. Aside from that, the 5C has a better battery life and a slightly better front-facing camera than the iPhone 5. But as we mentioned above, the slightly improved hardware won’t do much to impact your day-to-day use of the phone outside of network compatibility when you’re travelling or switching carriers. The similarities between the two phones means that you can pick them up at almost identical price points— starting at about $200 each for a used model. So ultimately the iPhone 5C wins in our books by a small margin.

Like the iPhone 5, the iPhone 5c is no longer available from Apple, but you can get a high-quality used device right here.

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