The Ways iPhone 5S and 5C Are Different

Update, Nov. 2015: Apple has discontinued the iPhone 5C. The 5S is still available in 16 GB and 32 GB models. Buy the iPhone 5S on Amazon.com.

Understanding the exact differences between the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C can be tricky. The color of the phones is one obvious difference, but all the other differences are in the guts of phone—and those are hard to see. Check out these key differences between the 5S and 5C to understand how the two phones differ from each other and to help you buy the right model that's right for you.

Curious about how the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus differ? Check out this article.

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Processor Speed: The 5S is Faster

Apple A7 processor
Apple A7 processor. Public Domain/Wikipedia

The iPhone 5S has a faster processor than the 5C. The 5S sports an Apple A7 processor, while the heart of the 5C is an A6. The A7 is newer and more powerful than the A6, particularly because it's a 64-bit chip (the first in a smartphone). Because it's 64-bit, the A7 can process chunks of data twice as big as those handled by the 32-bit A6. Processor speed isn't as big a factor in smartphones as it is in computers (many other things affect overall performance as much, if not more), and the A6 is fast, but the A7 in the iPhone 5S makes that model a bit speedier than the 5C.

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Motion Co-Processor: The 5C Doesn't Have It

Apple M7 motion Co-processor
Apple M7 motion Co-processor.

The iPhone 5S is the first iPhone to include a motion co-processor. This is a chip that interacts with the iPhone's physical sensors—the accelerometer, compass, and gyroscope—to provide new feedback and data to apps. This could include much more detailed fitness and exercise data in apps, and the ability to know whether the user is sitting or standing. The 5S has it, but the 5C does not.

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Fingerprint Scanner: Only the 5S Has It

Touch ID set up
Setting up Touch ID.

One of the iPhone 5S's headline features is the Touch ID fingerprint scanner that's built into its Home button. This scanner lets you tie the security of your iPhone to your unique, personal fingerprint, which means that unless it's you (or someone has your finger!), your phone is very secure. Set up a passcode and then use the fingerprint scanner to unlock your phone and enter passwords. The scanner is available on the 5S, but not the 5C.

Related: Learn how to set up and use Touch ID here

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Camera: The 5S Offers Slow-Mo and More

iPhone camera app
The iPhone Camera app in action.

When taken just on the specs, the cameras in the iPhone 5S and 5C don't look very different: they both max out at 8 megapixel still images and 1080p HD video. But the subtle details of the 5S's camera really stand out. It offers two flashes for truer-to-life colors, the ability to record slow-motion video at 120 frames per second in 720p HD, and a burst mode that takes up to 10 photos per second. The 5C's camera is good, but it doesn't have any of these advanced features.

Related: Learn how to use the iPhone's built-in Camera app

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Colors: Only the 5C Has Bright Colors

iPhone 5C
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If you want a colorful iPhone, the 5C is your best choice. That's because it comes in many colors: yellow, green, blue, pink, and white. The iPhone 5S has more colors than previous models—in addition to the standard slate and gray, it now also has a gold option—but the 5C has the brightest colors and the biggest selection of them.

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Storage Capacity: The 5S Offers Up to 64 GB

iPhone 5S
iPhone 5S. image copyright Apple Inc.

The iPhone 5S has the same maximum amount of storage as last year's iPhone 5: 64 GB. This is enough to store tens of thousands of songs, dozens of apps, hundreds of photos, and more. If your storage needs are big, this is the phone for you. The 5C matches the 16 GB and 32 GB models that the 5S offers, but it stops there—there's no 64 GB 5C for capacity-hungry users.

Update, Nov. 2015: The iPhone 5S is now only available in 16 GB and 32 GB models.  

Related: Can You Upgrade iPhone Memory?

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Price: The 5C is $100 Less

iphone 5s vs 5c price
iphone image is copyright Apple Inc.

The iPhone 5C is Apple's "low-cost" iPhone. Just like the 5S, it requires a two-year contract with a phone company. When you do that, the 5C costs just $99 for the 16 GB model and $199 for the 32 GB model. By contrast, the iPhone 5S costs $199 for a 16 GB model, $299 for a 32 GB model, and $399 for a 64 GB model when purchased with a two-year contract. So, if saving money is a priority for you, the 5C is your best bet.

Update, Nov. 2015: The iPhone 5C has been discontinued. The iPhone 5S 16 GB model is free with a two-year phone contract, while the 32 GB model is $49.