Wondering whether to upgrade your existing iPhone to one of Apple's new models the iPhone 5c or iPhone 5s? If you have an iPhone 5, iPhone 4s, iPhone 4 or even an earlier iPhone such as the 1st generation iPhone you may be wondering what feature you will gain if you upgrade. We'll outline how the iPhones compare in this article which we have updated following the launch of a new, lower-priced, entry-level iPhone 5c. 

We have more informaiton about Apple's new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in this article: iPhone buying advice: Should I buy an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 5s, or iPhone 5c, or wait for iPhone 7

If you're still using an iPhone 3GS or earlier you can safely assume that it's time to upgrade. That first generation iPhone is more than seven years old!

We're going to look at the six things everyone wants from a smartphone and compare what each model offers. You will be able to see how the iPhone has evolved over time.

You can read all our iPhone reviews here:

iPhone 5c review

iPhone 5s review

iPhone 5 review

iPhone 4s review

Apple iPhone 4 review

iPhone 3GS UK review

iPhone 3G review

iPhone (first-generation) review

iPhone design: how the iPhone's changed

The design of Apple's iPhones has evolved over time. In 2007 Apple launched the iPhone with its black plastic case. Then came the identical iPhone 3G which was a tiny bit bigger to accommodate the 3G aerial and came in a choice of black or white plastic. The iPhone 3GS was identical to the 3G.

Original iPhone

The iPhone 4 launched in June 2010 and was the first iPhone to sport a metal frame. The iPhone 4 was also the first iPhone to sport a high-resolution Retina display.

iPhone 4

The iPhone 4s launched in October 2011 and has a very similar case to the iPhone 4, in fact the dimensions are identical (115.2mm x 58.6mm x 9.3mm), but the iPhone 4s weighs 3 grams more at 140g.

In September 2012 came the iPhone 5. This phone was taller than those before it, offering a bigger 4in display. The iPhone 5 was available in black & slate or white & silver. This time the metal was iodized aluminium rather than the steel of the previous iPhones.

Best free iPhone apps

The iPhone 5c marks a return to plastic cases and the first time the iPhone has been available in bold colours. You can get the iPhone 5c in blue, yellow, pink, green and white.

iPhone 5c

The iPhone 5s looks similar to the iPhone 5 but like the iPhone 5c there's a bit more colour this time round. As well as the white – now called silver - and black – called Space Grey – models, there is a gold version. We expected this gold version to be a bit bling but it's actually quite stylish.

The dimensions of the new iPhone 5s are the same as the iPhone 5 at 123.8mm x 58.6mm x 7.6mm and 112g, the iPhone 5c is slightly bigger and heavier at 124.4mm x 59.2mm x 8.97mm and 132g.

iPhone camera

The first two iPhones offered 2-megapixel still cameras, video arrived on the iPhone 3GS as did 3-megapixel images. The iPhone 4 was the first iPhone to feature a camera on the front for FaceTime video calling. It also had a 5-megapixel camera that offered an f/2.8 aperture, an LED flash and a 5 times digital zoom, along with HD video recording.

The iPhone 4s gained a better camera with 8 megapixels. It features a five-element lens with a larger f/2.4 aperture, and facial recognition. There is an image processor in the A5 dual-core chip so the Camera app launches faster and shots can be taken faster than on the iPhone 4. Video can be shot in full 1080p HD resolution and Apple introduced a new image stabilization feature for smoother videoing on this iPhone. The FaceTime camera on the front offered the same VGA resolution as the iPhone 4. However, when iOS 6 launched the iPhone 4s gained Panorama style shots, something that the earlier iPhone models are unable to take advantage of.

With the iPhone 5 Apple redesigned the 8-megapixel camera with a new sapphire crystal lens for clearer images. Video gained even better image stabilization, video face detection for up to 10 faces and the ability to take still photos while recording.

While the iPhone 5c has the same 8-megapixel camera as the iPhone 5, the FaceTime camera on the front is new and is better for low-light FaceTime calls and selfies.

The iPhone 5s camera, on the other hand, is a completely new 8-megapixel camera with a larger f/2.2 aperture and a larger sensor. Some smartphones have more megapixels but it's the size of the sensor that is important and as a result of this the iPhone 5s camera offers better low-light performance. In addition, Apple's A7 processor includes a new image signal processor that makes auto-focus quicker and photo capture faster – perfectly demonstrated by the Burst Mode feature, which can take 10 images in one second on the iPhone 5s. You also get automatic image and video stabilization with this new camera.

The iPhone 5s also has a True Tone flash – this flash is a world's first and it means that photos taken with a flash appear more natural. The iPhone 5s has the same FaceTime camera as the iPhone 5c.

In the iOS 7.1 update the iPhone 5s camera gained the new HDR Auto feature which means it can take a photo with HDR only when it will improve the shot.

Read our iPhone camera comparison

iPhone speed

When Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007 it had a processor running at about 412MHz. By the time the iPhone 4 with its A4 processor launched in 2010 that processor speed had almost doubled to 800 MHz. The iPhone 4s uses a dual-core A5 processor, also running at 800 MHz.

The iPhone 5 and 5c both use the same dual-core A6 processor running at 1.3 GHz.

The iPhone 5s uses Apple's new A7 chip that also runs at 1.3 GHz but has a 64-bit CPU, which makes it incredibly fast.

One way to measure a chips power and performance is through benchmarking. The Geekbench results for the iPhones show that the iPhone 5s is more than twice that of the iPhone 5c.

iPhone 5s Geekbench 3 results

  • iPhone 4         210
  • iPhone 4s       412
  • iPhone 5         1302
  • iPhone 5c       1180
  • iPhone 5s       2556

According to these tests, it turns out that the iPhone 5 is a bit faster than the iPhone 5c, while the older iPhones are left for dust.

iPhone storage

When it launched in 2007 the iPhone came with the option of 4GB or 8GB storage. The 4GB model was eventually discontinued in September 2007 and a 16GB model was launched in February 2008.

The iPhone 3G launched with 8GB and 16GB options.

The iPhone 3GS offered 8GB, 16GB and 32GB - the 8GB version remained on sale until September 2012.

The iPhone 4 was available in 8GB, 16GB or 32GB varients. The 8GB version remained on sale in the UK until September 2013, and continues to be sold in some territories.

When the iPhone 4s launched it was available in a new 64GB version, while the 32GB and 16GB versions remained. An 8GB version of the iPhoen 4s remains on sale.

The iPhone 5 launched with 16, 32 or 64GB storage.

The iPhone 5c offers 16GB, 32GB, and a new 8GB versions.

The iPhone 5s is available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB versions.

One of the biggest criticisms of the iPhone is the fact that users cannot add storage, many alternative smartphones allow removable storage to be added in the form of SD cards. For iPhone users there are two ways to add more storage: use a WiFi storage device to access and stream media, or use Apple's iCloud and download content when you need it.

iPhone Connectivity: 4G/3G, Wi-Fi and more

When it comes to connectivity, Apple's iPhones do vary. Only the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c work with all 4G networks, While the iPhone 5 is only compatible with EE's 4G, so if you are on O2 you are out of luck with that model.

This means that the iPhone 4s, iPhone 4, and iPhones 3G and 3GS are only compatible with 3G, and won't work with 4G at all. If you know anyone still using an original 6 year-old iPhone they won't even be able to get on the 3G network.

The two newest iPhones have slightly speedier Wi-Fi, but all of them have Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, with the exception of the iPhone 4, which has Bluetooth 2.1, like the iPhone 3GS, and the original iPhones that had Bluetooth 2.0.

The iPhone 4 had some problems with the antenna – in fact the issues were so bad that Apple gave away a case that covered the sides of the phone since holding it a particular way could cause problems with reception.

Apple improved the antenna in the iPhone 4s and later to fix the issue. 

The iPhone 5 and later have a directional microphone, which means better audio for voice calls.

Another feature that's on some iPhones and not others is Apple's AirPlay, which lets users stream videos, music and photos wirelessly to devices including the Apple TV and third-party speaker-systems. It is only available on the iPhone 4s and later, so those with the iPhone 4 or earlier will miss out on this feature.

There are some other features that won't work on older iPhone models either. Siri won't work on the iPhone 4, and nor will Apple Maps turn-by-turn navigation. If you plan on making FaceTime calls over a cellular connection you'll also need an iPhone 4s or later.

Other features found in iOS 7 that won't work on older phones include Safari full-screen view and tab view, which require an iPhone 4s or later, and AirDrop, which needs an iPhone 5 or later to work.

iPhone battery life

Apple claims similar battery life for each of the newer iPhone models, but we found that, when it comes to video, the iPhone 5s lasted more than 11 hours. The iPhone 5c was close behind with 10 hours and 19 minutes. The iPhone 5 lasted 9 hours and 37 minutes while the 4s lasted 8 hours and 31 minutes.

The iPhone 4 seems to be struggling with iOS 7, and users have reported significant drop in battery life of the older phone since updating. 

You will get more battery life from your phone if you close apps as they can draw power when they are running in the background.

The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s have less impressive 3G talk time. Apple claims up to seven hours for iPhone 4, eight hours for iPhone 4s, and up to 10 hours for the iPhone 5, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s.

Another way to save battery life, users of all five iPhone models can turn of iOS 7's parallax effect, ensure that apps aren't running in multitasking mode, and turn off location services.

One more thing…

There is one other feature that the iPhone 5s has that the other phones don't – Touch ID.

This enables you to use your fingerprint to unlock your phone. 

Read our comparison reviews of the various iPhones below: 

iPhone 5S vs iPhone 5C comparison review

iPhone 5c v iPhone 5 comparison review

iPhone 5 vs iPhone 5S comparison review

Also: Should I keep my iPhone 5 or buy an iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c ...