iPhone 5S vs 5C in 2014: how iOS 8 changes specs vs price comparison

The iPhone 5S vs 5C debate continues even as Apple ramps up for a fall release of its next iPhone generation – and now the equation has shifted in the wake of the iOS 8 unveiling. Apple has made clear that the new operating system will be compatible with both current iPhone models. But how will its features translate to both pieces of iPhone hardware, whose specs are in some ways as different as their color schemes? And what will happen to iPhone 5S vs 5C pricing as we get closer to the launch of the next iPhone?

Apple has a habit of tiering its new iOS features depending on hardware. The new iPhone 6 will likely have new hardware components to take full advantage of new features like HealthKit and HomeKit. Those features may or may not work on the iPhone 5S or 5C. But even beyond specific features, there is the fact that newer software like iOS 8 tends to be written under the assumption of faster and more powerful hardware. The iPhone 5S runs on a very fast A7 microprocessor, while the iPhone 5C runs on a moderately fast A6 microprocessor. More centrally, the iPhone 5S has a secondary M7 processor to perform additional tasks. How many iOS 8 features will rely on the M7, and shut the iPhone 5C out in the process? Apple hasn’t fully fleshed out these details yet. That means price may be the only reason to consider the iPhone 5C at this late date – and those prices are about to change.

Currently Apple is still selling the iPhone 5S starting at $199 and the iPhone 5C starting at $99. Apple itself won’t cut those prices until the new iPhone is unveiled in the fall, but some third party retailers and carriers have already begun offering intermittent discounts on both. Those discounts will become more commonplace now that much of the public is aware a new iPhone is coming within two to three months. So long as the iPhone 5C remains $100 cheaper than the iPhone 5S, it can be seen as a valid value play. But the iPhone 5S is the better long term buy as Apple releases iOS 8 and beyond.

Phil Moore

Phil Moore

Phil covers tech for Stabley Times.