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iPhone SE vs iPhone 5S – time to upgrade NOW

iPhone SE vs iPhone 5S hero

If you've been holding onto your iPhone 5S waiting for a suitable replacement, this iPhone SE is it. Here's why

Apple managed to beat all expectations when it released the iPhone SE recently. Rather than this being the cut-down, plastic and cheap iPhone that we’d all been expecting, it was a slimmed-down iPhone 6S in the body of the much-loved iPhone 5S. Normally, these comparison articles look at the pros and cons of each handset, giving you the right information to make a buying decision. With these two phones, I think it’s fair to say, up-front, that the iPhone SE is the phone you should buy now if you’ve been waiting for a smaller handset. Here are all the reasons why you’ll want to make that change.


Dimensions: Given that the two phones share a common body, there’s absolutely nothing between them. They both measure 124x59x7.6mm and weigh 112g. Both phones are slightly thicker than the current 6S range, but in a smaller handset, this is a good thing, as it gives you more to grip.

Materials: Both old and new smartphone are made from aluminium, with the same quality body that we’ve come to expect from Apple. Build quality is excellent and the iPhone SE looks as good today as when the iPhone 5S was launched.

Colours: This is where the SE has the advantage, as it has a wider choice of colours, with a rose gold edition joining in with the original gold, silver and space grey options. I’m a big fan of the new colour and means that there’s plenty of choices no matter what your preference is.

iPhone SE vs iPhone 5S on top of each other


Screen size: Both phones have a 4in screen. This is a little small by today’s flagship phone’s standards, but who cares? This is the reason that the iPhone SE exists: to give people a smaller handset, instead of making them upgrade to a larger model.

Screen resolution and technology: Both phones have an IPS LCD display, with a resolution of 1,136×640. This sounds a little low, compared to the best flagship phones, but it gives a pixel density of 326ppi: the same as the iPhone 6S. In my opinion, this is sharp enough, and text looks clear on both screens. The iPhone SE’s display is a little newer, a little brighter and colours are that bit more vibrant than on the iPhone 5S, but there’s little in it. If you love your iPhone 5S’ screen, you’ll love the SE’s.

Performance and battery life

Performance: The iPhone SE blows the iPhone 5S out of the water in terms of performance. It has the latest Apple A9 chip, as used in the iPhone 6S range. This is one of the fastest processors we’ve seen, storming through every task and demolishing high-resolution games. The iPhone 5S with its Apple A7, simply can’t keep up. And, to top it off, the iPhone SE has 2GB of RAM, compared to the iPhone 5S’ 1GB. That means you can work on bigger documents and switch between apps more quickly, as more information can be held in memory.

Battery: The battery size for both phones is similar, but the SE has a more efficient processor, so it lasts longer. While the iPhone 5S lasted 14h 31m in our video playback test, the iPhone SE lasted a whopping 16h 46m. Both phones are charged via their Lightning ports at the bottom.

iPhone SE vs iPhone 5S Lightning ports

Storage: The iPhone 5S isn’t available anymore, but it was available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB configurations. The iPhone SE is available in 16GB and 64GB configurations: 16GB is too small by today’s standards, so I recommend buying the 64GB version.

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