The iPhone 5S and 5C – Should you upgrade?

Backbencher September 13, 2013 1

Now that we’ve had time to digest news of the new batch of iPhones announced by Apple earlier this week, it’s time to ask the all important question: should you upgrade? And which device is right for you, the 5S or 5C?

Well obviously the answer to these questions depends entirely on what phone you currently have, and I can tell you now with no written justification whatsoever, if you have an iPhone 5 it isn’t worth your time to upgrade to the 5C. The 5S, on the other hand, provides slightly more of a dilemma as it introduces a few neat new features and a host of upgrades under the hood. The introduction of a fingerprint scanner to the home button is certainly a nice addition that adds extra security, but unless you’re due a subsidised upgrade on your device, it seems a lot to pay upwards of £500 for if you’re already sporting an iPhone 5.

Already have an iPhone 5? With almost identical innards, it might be worth giving the colourful iPhone 5C a miss.

Already have an iPhone 5? With almost identical innards, it might be worth giving the colourful iPhone 5C a miss.

If you’re still rocking the iPhone 4 or 4S, however, it’s well worth looking at. Not only will you then be upgrading the internal specs of your phone quite drastically, and getting the all important fingerprint scanner, you’ll also enjoy the changes Apple made last time around by making the device slimmer, lighter, while increasing the size of the display to 4”, which remains the same in both the 5C and 5S.

The iPhone 5S brings a number of new features, including a new fingerprint scanner and 64-bit processing.

The iPhone 5S brings a number of new features, including a new fingerprint scanner and 64-bit processing.

I can’t help but feel though, that while slight changes to the hardware are welcome, the biggest changes are going to come on the software side of things, with iOS 7. The new operating system is going to be available to iPhone 4 and 4S owners, though, as well as those with any one of the iPhone 5 series, which suggests to me that whether you upgrade your hardware or not you’re going to reap the biggest rewards anyway by upgrading to iOS 7.

My other issue is simply that the 5C just isn’t that cheap. We noted earlier in the week that the device may primarily be aimed to emerging markets, such as China and India, but it seems to me that Apple is stuck in the middle of maintaining its ‘premium’ brand image and making iOS more accessible, as the majority of their profits come flooding in long after the device itself is sold, through app, music and video sales; the more people that can afford to use iOS, the more people throw money at Angry Birds. The iPhone 5C starts at £469 unsubsidised, which if you ignore the extortionate precedent set by previous iPhone launches, is pretty expensive. Go back a few years and you wouldn’t dream of paying such a hefty price for the smartest phone around, and now we’re supposed to consider it budget.

The biggest changes with the new iPhones will be on the software side of things. With iOS 7, Apple have completely overhauled the look and feel of their mobile operating system.

The biggest changes with the new iPhones will be on the software side of things. With iOS 7, Apple have completely overhauled the look and feel of their mobile operating system.

My final concern for now is that, though Apple will stop selling them in store, it’ll be a long while before you are unable to buy a decent iPhone 5 from a third party, and if the prices are comparable, then there is no contest between the internally identical devices, given the more premium feel of the iPhone 5 compared to its plastic successor.

So to sum up then, back to the original question, are the new devices worthy upgrades? I’d say potentially, but if you already have an iPhone 5 then have no qualms about skipping this generation of iPhone. Certainly don’t rush and buy one at full price. If you have an iPhone 4 or 4S you may well be due an upgrade on a 2 year contract anyway, in which case go for it, but again, don’t rush out and spend over £500 on either of these models. If you haven’t dabbled in iOS before and are considering switching ecosystems, then either of these phones would make good entry points, especially with the brand new look of iOS 7.

As always with Apple though, the biggest issue is price, but that’s never stopped us before. And hey, maybe you’re just a sucker for colour.

 

By Rob Nichols.

Twitter: @R0bNichols

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