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Which iPhone accessories will work with the 5s and 5c?

Dan Frakes | Sept. 30, 2013
We've been testing various gadgets and gear with the new iPhones, and here's what we've found

iPhones

Each time Apple introduces a new iPhone model, we get many questions about compatiblity: Will the accessories you already own--cases, speakers, chargers, and the like--work with the new model? In some years, such as when Apple replaced the iPhone 4 with the iPhone 4S, there are few physical and electrical differences, so almost everything works. Other times, Apple changes both the size and the electronics of the phone: The iPhone 5, for example, had both a different shape and a completely different charge/sync connector.

This year, we get a little bit of both, as Apple has introduced both the iPhone 5s, which is nearly identical on the outside to last year's model while being significantly upgraded on the inside, and the iPhone 5c, which uses a completely new exterior design while retaining the guts of the iPhone 5. How well will your current iOS accessories work with these new models? We've been testing various gadgets and gear, and here's what we've found.

Cases
iPhone 5s Case, which fits the iPhone 5 just fine.

I say "most" because there's one possible hangup here: While the back camera lens is roughly the same size, and in the same position, on the iPhone 5s and 5, the iPhone 5s flash uses two LEDs, whereas the iPhone 5 uses one. Some iPhone 5 cases have a teardrop-shaped camera opening—wider on the left to accommodate the camera lens, but narrower on the right for the LED; and a few actually use separate, custom-fit openings for the lens and the flash. These kinds of cases may partially obscure the iPhone 5s flash, or may be close enough to obscuring it that the case affects photo quality. If you want to use a case not specifically made for the iPhone 5s, be sure the opening(s) for the camera and flash are large enough to avoid this problem.

If you've got an iPhone 5c, on the other hand, it has a completely new design with a new body style and different dimensions than the 5 or 5s. The iPhone 5c requires new cases specifically made for it.

Charge/power/sync accessories
Like the iPhone 5 and recent iPad and iPod touch models, the iPhone 5s and 5c use Apple's Lightning connector for all wired connections. (The phones ship with a USB-to-Lightning-connector cable for charging and syncing.) So any iPhone 5-compatible charging or syncing accessory—cables, docks, external batteries, car chargers, and the like--should work fine with the iPhone 5s and 5c.

The exceptions, of course, are products that don't physically fit. As with cases, the iPhone 5s will work with iPhone 5 battery cases, while the iPhone 5c will not. If you've got an iPhone 5c, you'll need to wait for iPhone 5c-specific models.

 

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