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iPhone 5C vs iPhone 4S head–to–head review


With many iPhone 4S owners likely to be coming to the end of their seemingly never-ending 24-month contracts, the time is right for a change. But, with Apple releasing two new devices last month, the choice is not so simple.

Many will no doubt be tempted by one of the new devices but with iPhone 5S stocks low and prices high, the iPhone 5C could prove enticing. Furthermore, coupled with its lower price is the fact the device comes in a raft of bold, brash colours, which could prove enticing to some users.

But is it worth upgrading, or should you stick with your 4S and find a new, cheaper SIM-only deal that can replace the contract? Similarly, for those who are tempted to buy an Apple smartphone for the first time but are put off by the iPhone 5S's high price tag, is it worth seeking a cheap 4S, or adding a little colour to your life with a 5C?

To date, at least nine million new iPhone 5S and 5C devices have been sold, underlining the huge demand for the new phones. However, Apple has not broken down these figures into the two phones, so it is unclear just how popular the 5C is proving. Given the rampant demand for the 5S at launch, it may be fair to say it has been somewhat overlooked by the buying public.

However, with the 5C now set to be available in a further 25 countries on Friday 11 October, including Austria, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Russia, South Korea, Spain, and Thailand, Apple will be hoping to entice more buyers in new markets to its colourful smartphone range.

Design and build
The most obvious difference between the two phones is the design. The iPhone 4S was the last Apple phone to have the smaller 3.5in screen and it really does seem a lot smaller than the 4in iPhone 5C.

Apple iPhone 4S v iPhone 5C head to head review devices flat showing width and design from aboveThe 5C also has softer, mellower edges compared with the more rectangular 4S, which give it a nicer feel, while the 5C's dimensions of 124x59x8.97mm make it very comfortable in the hand.

The 4S, by comparison is 115x59x9.3mm. As you can see from these numbers, the 5C is not just taller and wider, but it's thinner, by 0.3mm (pictured). While this is not much in the grand scheme of things, you certainly notice the difference.

This is also true of the weight. The 5C is feather light at 132g, while the 4S is 140g. This, again, is very little difference, but it is noticeable. The iPhone 5C also just has that sense of ‘newness’ with its design that feels more appealing. This is probably because the 4S, and the iPhone 4, are victims of their own success, with the design of these older iPhones having been so ubiquitous for the last few years that it is becoming somewhat dated.

Perhaps the only area where the 4S wins out is in build quality. The 5C is made of plastic, while the 4S is housed within a glass and metal body. That said, the 5C does not feel like a cheap phone and if you use your phone in a case, you'd never feel the difference anyway.

All in all, the 5C is the nicer phone to look at, as well as being lighter, thinner and more comfortable to hold. The 4S, like the iPhone 4, is still a nice phone to look at and use, but the 5C wins.

Winner: iPhone 5C

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

View Dan's Google+ profile

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