iPhone SE Vs iPhone 5S – How the Two Stack Up Against Each Other?

Well, so maybe you’re one of those who have decided to still hold on to their iPhone 5S. Perhaps you’re just too fond of its small size, or, maybe, you don’t want to break the bank by going for one of the latest versions of the iPhone.

Regardless of what your reason is, however, Apple has probably decided to do its best to win you over by coming up with the iPhone SE, a 5S-like iPhone that it claims to be the most powerful 4-inch smartphone.

However, it may still not be easy for you to decide whether to consider upgrading to the SE or not, especially given that there are many other tempting alternatives out there being offered for the same or an even lower price than the SE.

But there’s also the fact that the 5S has now been discontinued and Apple doesn’t seem keen to offer support and software updates to the device in the future. Hence, you may want to find out what exactly the SE brings to the table compared to the outdated iPhone 5S.

So let’s have a detailed comparison between the two and find out how exactly they stack up against each other.

iPhone SE vs. 5s

iPhone SE vs iPhone 5s specs comparison

Design and Display

Well, let’s not forget that Apple is probably trying to offer a better alternative to the 5S without making the users miss the outdated device. Perhaps for that reason alone, the iPhone SE looks surprisingly similar to the 5S, and the design is just as identical too.

The only noticeable (barely) difference as far as the design is concerned is that the SE is a mere .04 ounces heavier. Other than that, pretty much everything is same on the design front, including the slightly chubby aluminum body.

On the display front, The SE has the same screen size and resolution as the 5S. Similarly, everything on this front ranging from the button layout to the mic/speaker location is the same as well.

Taking all the design and display similarities into consideration, it would probably be wise to say that you aren’t getting anything better on these fronts over the 5S for sure.

The Power Aspect

Apple makes sure it backs up its claim of the iPhone SE being the most powerful 4-inch smartphone on the market with some really impressive improvements on the hardware front. The SE does seem to be coming with noticeable improvements on this front over the 5S. In fact, many believe the SE is actually kind of a 6S packed in a 5S body.

While whether that’s exactly true or not is another story, the SE does seem to be getting many of its features from one of the latest iPhones out there, the 6S.

The SE comes with an A9 chip and a M9 coprocessor, which means that its two generations ahead of the iPhone 5S, that has got an A7 chip and a M7 motion coprocessor. However, what many believe to be the biggest improvement on this front is the 2GB RAM that the SE boasts of, as against the 5S’ 1GB RAM.

This probably means that the SE is significantly faster and more powerful than the 5S. The users may notice an appreciable improvement as far as the response time, app loading and installation time, as well as the stability is concerned.

Another thing you may want to know about is the software upgrades. The 5S comes with the iOS 7.1 (but isn’t sold by Apple anymore), and can be upgraded to the iOS 9.3. However, things get a little worrying when it comes to the future updates, as the 5S’ outdated hardware may not be capable enough of running them. Needless to mention, Apple may not even care if the future iOS updates are suitable for running on the 5S or not, as it has already decided to discontinue offering the device.

On the other hand, the iPhone SE comes with the latest iOS 9.3, and may very well be able to run the foreseeable future updates pretty smoothly.

Finally, coming to the battery life, which definitely isn’t considered any less important compared to the other specs, the SE seems to have got a slight edge on this front as well. While the 5S has got a 1,560mAh battery, the SE comes with a slightly better 1,642mAh battery. However, don’t expect any major improvement as far as the battery life is concerned, as the difference may not be quite noticeable.


Nowadays the camera is considered one of the most important features of any smartphone. If you’re one of those who share this view, you may be pleased with what the SE has to offer as far as its camera features are concerned.

The most noticeable difference over the 5S on this front is that the SE boasts of a 12-megapixel, rear-facing camera as against the 5S’ 8-megapixel one. However, the SE features the same 1.2-megapixel camera as the 5S on the front. The pixel size on the SE is smaller too, though, which translates to better quality pictures.

Coming to the video quality, there seem to have been just as many improvements on this front as well. The SE comes with more advanced video capabilities, allowing you to record videos at various resolutions and speeds, including 1080p at 60 fps, 4k at 30 fps, and more.

On the other hand, the 5S ends up being the loser again, as it just comes with limited video recording capabilities, with the resolutions and speed offered including only the 1080p at 30 fps, and 720p at 120 fps (as well as the slow-motion).

Overall, the SE certainly seems to be offering much more on the camera front, including the video recording capabilities, than the 5S. However, given that the 5S is now around 3 years old, it isn’t really surprising that its updated version (kind of) comes with better camera features.

To sum it up

Apple has apparently left no stone unturned in trying to make the iPhone SE the best 4-inch smartphone on the market. As mentioned earlier, it’s considered to be a 6S-like phone packed in a much smaller body.

Coming to the price, it requires you to shell out around $400, which may vary quite a bit depending on your location (if you’re not in the US). While the price may definitely seem quite attractive for the features offered, there may actually be two ways of looking at it.

Firstly, for those who prefer nothing but phones with a small screen, the price may seem on the lower side. This is simply because they are getting what they want without compromising much on the features most high-end phones come with.

On the other hand, if you’re someone who don’t really care that much about the size, the price may not seem all that attractive to you, as you may find many other phones with better specifications. However, this is only applicable to you if you’re not looking for an Apple-only device.

Finally, it goes without saying that Apple not only wants the SE to be the best small-sized smartphone on the market, but also a much better alternative to the 5S for users who have refused to upgrade to any of the latest iPhones for whatever reason.

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