iPhone SE full review

Apple has launched the iPhone SE 'Special Edition' for all those out there wanting a smaller smartphone. It's the first 4in iPhone since the iPhone 5S but what's the difference and should you upgrade? Here's our iPhone SE vs iPhone 5S comparison review.

Note that since the iPhone SE was announced on Monday (alongside the new iPad Pro), we've not had a chance to see it in the flesh yet so we're comparing specs for now.

iPhone SE vs iPhone 5S comparison review: Price and availability

The iPhone SE is the cheapest iPhone to date going by its launch price of £359. However, that certainly doesn't mean it's the cheaper option here and since the iPhone 5S is now pretty old you can pick one up for just over £200 on Amazon. Meanwhile, retailers like John Lewis have the iPhone 5S for £379 but Carphone Warehouse has a more sensible price of £279.

The question you're probably asking is 'should I upgrade to the iPhone SE?' and that's what we're going to help answer for you.

iPhone SE vs iPhone 5S comparison review: Design and build

When it comes down to it, there's almost no difference between the iPhone 5S and iPhone SE in design. Apple has used the blueprint for the older phone for this new model. The dimensions are identical at 59x124x7.6mm, although the iPhone SE is 1g heavier at 113g – shock horror. You shouldn't have any problems using a 5S case on the iPhone SE.

iPhone SE colours

The main difference is that the iPhone SE is available in Rose Gold as well as the usual Silver, Gold and Space Grey. Hopefully that's not enough to convince you to spend a wad of cash on the upgrade but there are many upgrades which you can't see which might persuade you.

iPhone SE vs iPhone 5S comparison review: Hardware and specs

The big news on the iPhone SE is that it has a 4in screen, making it the first phone from Apple with this size since the iPhone 5S. Both phones use a 640x1136 resolution resulting in Apple's classic 'Retina' 326ppi pixel density.

While the screen is the same, there are other hardware features which might be worth upgrading for. Although at this point we should point out that the iPhone SE does not feature 3D Touch as found on the iPhone 6S.

What it does have which you'll find inside the iPhone 6S is the Apple A9 processor making it a big performance jump from the iPhone 5S which uses an A7 chip. The firm says the iPhone SE two times the CPU performance and three times the GPU performance compared to the 5S.

iPhone SE vs iPhone 5S performance

Alongside the A9 is Apple's M9 motion coprocessor which connects to things like the accelerometer, for ?tness-tracking. It also means the iPhone SE supports always-on "Hey Siri".

The iPhone SE is available in either 16- or 64GB storage capacities and there's no Micro-SD card slot as usual. Meanwhile, the 5S comes in those two sizes, plus 32GB – although you'll probably struggle to find anything larger than 16GB if buying new.

As well as the processor, the other major upgrade is the camera which is the 12Mp iSight camera featuring on the iPhone 6S. It offers phase detection autofocus, 4K video recording, Slo-mo at 240fps and Live Photos – none of which are available on the iPhone 5S. Although the front FaceTime HD camera at the front is still 1.2Mp, it supports the Retina flash.

As you'd expect the Touch ID fingerprint scanner in on-board but the iPhone SE supports Apple Pay via the NFC chip which the iPhone 5S does not. You'll also get better wireless on the new iPhone with 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, faster 4G speeds, more LTE bands and Wi-Fi Calling support.

There's no difference on the software side of things since the iPhone 5S is upgradable to iOS 9.3 but the A9 processor is much better suited to run the latest software and as mentioned, the iPhone SE supports things like Live Photos and Hey Siri which are partly software features.

Reasons to buy the iPhone SE

•    Rose Gold colour
•    Apple A9 processor
•    12Mp camera
•    Apple Pay support
•    Better wireless

Reasons to buy the iPhone 5S

•    Cheaper
•    Same design
•    Same screen
•    Available in 32GB
•    Upgradable to iOS 9.3


iPhone SE: Specs

  • iOS 10
  • 4in Retina display
  • A9 processor with M9 motion co-processor
  • 16/64GB storage
  • 12Mp iSight rear camera
  • 1.2Mp FaceTime front camera
  • Touch ID
  • 7.6mm
  • 113g