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Apple iPhone SE vs iPhone 5s: Which is best for me?

Apple has just launched the iPhone SE, a new 4-inch phone packing modern specs and tools like Touch ID but lacking some of the iPhone 6s’ big features, including 3D Touch. So how does the iPhone SE compare to Apple’s last 4-inch phone, the iPhone 5s, and which is best for you considering the price difference?

We didn’t expect Apple to release another 4-inch handset after the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which boosted that standard size up to 4.7 and 5.5-inches. However, after a year of rumours, the iPhone SE is finally official.

Read next: What is the iPhone SE’s specs and features?

iPhone 5s vs iPhone SE: At a glance

Phone iPhone 5s iPhone SE
Screen size 4-inches 4-inches
Screen resolution 640×1136 640×1136
Weight 112g TBC
Processor Apple A7 Apple A9
Storage 16GB, 32GB 16GB, 64GB
Battery 1560mAh TBC
Rear ‘iSight’ camera 8MP 12MP
Front ‘FaceTime’ camera 1.2MP 5MP

iPhone 5s vs iPhone SE: Design

The iPhone SE sports an almost identical design to the iPhone 5s. In terms of dimensions, they’re the exact same – an iPhone SE will fit into a protective case designed for the iPhone 5s, and vice versa. That means the iPhone SE is 7.6mm thick, 124mm tall and 59mm wide, just like the iPhone 5s.

Read next: 4 things we love about the iPhone SE

In terms of look and feel, the phones are also pretty much the same. You once again have a glass front panel, surrounded by a flat metal edging and brushed metal back panel. However, the iPhone SE comes in Apple’s new Rose Gold colour too.

iPhone 5s vs iPhone SE: Screen and media

Both the iPhone 5s and iPhone SE pack a 4-inch Retina display. There’s no difference at all in terms of resolution (1136×640) or image quality; you’ll get realistic colours, wide viewing angles and a strong maximum brightness with either handset, as you’d expect from Apple.

Neither phone supports Apple’s new 3D Touch screen feature, which differentiates between a soft and hard tap to do different functions. Right now that’s not a problem, as 3D Touch offers very little worthwhile functionality. However, this may well change with future versions of Apple’s iOS software.

Read next: Five uses for Apple’s 3D Touch feature

iPhone 5s vs iPhone SE: Features

One of the big differences between the iPhone 5s and the iPhone SE is the storage options. While you can only pick up the iPhone 5s in 16GB or 32GB flavours these days, the iPhone SE can be snagged with 16GB or 64GB of storage.

If you plan on carrying a lot of apps, movies and music around, or taking a lot of photos on the go, then the 16GB model will be very limiting. Not only will that space fill up fast, but you’ll also struggle when it comes to iOS update time, with very little space to download those hefty installation packages.

Both phones boast a TouchID fingerprint sensor, so you can securely unlock your iPhone SE and iPhone 5s with just a tap. But the iPhone SE boasts better LTE connectivity and NFC support, for the likes of Apple Pay.

iPhone 5s vs iPhone SE: Performance and battery life

One of the biggest differences between the iPhone 5s and the iPhone SE is their everyday performance.

The iPhone 5s sports Apple’s ageing A7 processor, which can run iOS 9 reasonably smoothly but shows the occasional stutter during regular use. You’ll see prolonged pauses when opening apps too.

By contrast, Apple has packed its A9 processor into the iPhone SE, unveiled at the end of 2015. You can expect buttery smooth performance at all times and the iPhone SE should be able to play the latest memory-intensive games with ease, with thre times the graphical prowess of the iPhone 5s.

As for battery life, the iPhone 5s – with its 1560mAh cell – can just about make it through a full day without too much abuse. Here’s hoping that the iPhone SE can survive a full 24 hours without trouble too.

iPhone 5s vs iPhone SE: Cameras

There’s also a big difference when it comes to the camera tech.

The iPhone 5s still holds up well with its respectable 8-megapixel snapper, which can capture well-lit, attractive shots in most everyday conditions. You can also shoot 1080p video with built-in image stabilisation, along with slow motion and time-lapse footage. It may not be as strong as modern rivals, but it’s still a solid enough camera for most users, and more than up to the job of capturing your family and mates for social sharing.

That said, the iPhone SE boasts Apple’s all-new 12-megapixel iSight camera, which packs impressive levels of detail into every shot. There’s the new ‘Live Photos’ feature, which briefly animates your snaps with a video clip as you scroll through your gallery (admittedly a pointless addition). And you can shoot up to 4K video now, for greater clarity when viewing your home movies back on a big screen.

Apple has also improved the front-facing FaceTime camera for the iPhone SE. While the iPhone 5s’ 1.2-megapixel lens was simply fine for capturing your mug or getting your video chat on, the iPhone SE’s 5-megapixel camera shoots more detailed pics, performs slightly better in low light and also boasts a makeshift flash feature, where the screen lights up to illuminate your face. That’s good news if you’re obsessed with club selfies. However, it still maxes out at 720p video, just like the iPhone 5s’ FaceTime camera.

iPhone 5s vs iPhone SE: Price

We’re expecting iPhone 5s prices to rapidly drop across various UK retailers after the iPhone SE announcement, especially as Apple’s latest handset boasts vastly improved specs for little extra cash. Check out our guide to the iPhone SE UK prices and best tariffs, which we’re updating as we get fresh info.


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