The New iPhones: Should You Upgrade?

Becky Worley
Special Contributor, Yahoo! Tech
Upgrade Your Life

Apple did something unusual: they announced 2 iPhones at once. There’s a budget model, the iPhone 5C, and a mid-cycle upgrade, the iPhone 5S.  My initial take is that the 5C will be a nice fit for many, but the iPhone 5S may have limited appeal, in part because of a rumor about the next iPhone.

5C Specs


Plastic shell
·     5 colors – white, pink, yellow, blue, green
·     4-inch retina screen (same as the iPhone 5)
·     A6 chip (same as the iPhone 5)
·     Rear- and front-facing cameras (same as the iPhone 5)
·     16GB $99, 32GB $199
·     Available September 20th
·     Battery – basically the same as the iPhone 5, with a little added talk time
·     Siri enabled

Finally a Cheap (well… cheaper) iPhone

The 5C feels young: be it the glow-in-the-dark colors that match the new IOS 7 or the “unibody polycarbonate shell” (aka, it’s made from a single piece of plastic). It has much of the same hardware that was in the iPhone 5 – which has been discontinued. This 5C is a way to offer the previous model at a reduced price, but have a shiny new package around it. And to that I say, “Awesome!” The 5C’s $99 price (with 2-year contract) makes it $100 cheaper than previous new iPhones, and it will be a huge seller for those looking to enter the smartphone market for the first time: flip phone converts, consumers in emerging markets, and teenagers. Also, depending on the unlocked price, the 5C could also be a huge hit for consumers who use prepaid phone plans and who had shied away from the iPhone because of sticker shock both up front and on a monthly basis.

[Related: New, Cheaper Smartphone Plans]

Also worth considering: the iPhone 5C will run Apple’s newest mobile operating system, IOS 7. While it will have lots of changes and new features, the real value of any Apple phone is the ecosystem. I have switched back and forth between Androids and iPhones over the last four years, and I personally feel that the biggest benefit of the iPhone is the usability of their software and the ecosystem of iTunes, the app store, and iCloud (okay, iCloud has some issues, but it’s still very user friendly).


5C - Go for it!
I say this is a good phone at a decent (still not cheap) price, especially for those who have been waiting to break into the smartphone or iPhone market.

iPhone 5S
The 5S question is a little more complicated, and that’s typical of mid-cycle upgrades.  Let me explain. First, the specs:

·     Fingerprint scanner: Use your finger or thumb on the home button, instead of a passcode, to unlock the phone. The fingerprint will be set up through iTunes, and you can have multiple fingerprints that unlock one device. You can also authenticate iTunes purchases with your fingerprint on the scanner. Great for preventing theft, and hopefully not a lock-out nightmare.
·     GOLD: The 5S comes in gold, silver, and “Space Gray”
·     A7 processor: This is a 64-bit SOC or system on a chip. While Apple says it’s “up to” 2X faster, leaked benchmarks indicate a 30% increase in overall speed. Real world tests will come soon.
·     M7 processor: Motion processor that works with health and fitness apps without draining the battery. This is a clear indicator of the iWatch rumors coming to fruition sooner rather than later.
·     Camera: Better at low-light pictures due to a bigger aperture and dual LED flashes, called True-tone Flash, which provide softer light for night shots to warm up skin tones.
·     16GB model $199, 32GB $299 with contract. Available September 20th.

So is it a good phone?

The 5S offers no design changes except for the fingerprint scanner, but I consider that a functional upgrade worth consideration. If it is a seamless process to input and manage your fingerprint identity with Apple, it could dramatically decrease phone thefts and make authenticating purchases much easier via the App store. The speed increases in the chip are good but not game changers. The camera improvements will make drunken bar photos much better. And, oh yeah, did I mention that the iPhone comes in gold now too? That’s classy.

But there are two reasons why I personally wouldn’t upgrade to the 5S: First, I like the phone I have right now (why pay more?), and 

rumors point to an early 2014 release of the iPhone 6. If Apple strays from its traditional, late-summer release cycle and drops the iPhone 6 in spring, I’d be annoyed if I’d upgraded to the 5S. Plus, by the iPhone 6 release, we could have a Blush Rose color, Deep Burgundy, and Sauvignon Blanc to go with the Champagne gold just released.

What about you: upgrading or not? Why? Let us know on our Facebook page.