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Apple iPhone 5s vs Apple iPhone SE: The Battle of Siblings

Every time Apple(NASDAQ:AAPL) unveils an iPhone, the industry buzz and excitement of fans hit the ceiling! The rumor and industry buzz regarding the upcoming 7th incarnation of the iPhone is high. However, before launching the much anticipated model, Apple has launched a smaller variant of the iPhone, namely the iPhone Special Edition or SE. While the SE is in many ways an upgrade to the older iPhone 5S, debates have appeared regarding the worthiness of the upgraded version. The iPhone 5S has certain similarities with the newly released SE though the latter does have certain clear advantages in the final analysis. 

Display and resolution

The size and display of iPhone 5S and newly released SE remain the same. The 4 inch size makes the devices smaller than most other rival smartphones in the market. Even the existing Apple iPhone 6S has a bigger screen. The small form factor is actually liked by a lot of users. Those with smaller palms want a manageable device that can be handled easily with one hand. The iPhone 5S and the new SE are also quite lightweight. Both the devices sport same 1,136 x 640 pixels resolution on LED-backlit IPS LCD screen.


As far as design goes, you will be hard pressed to differentiate iPhone 5S from newest SE. If the phones are placed to face down on a surface, you may think they are the same. The metal body and chamfered edges feel the same. However, the SE does come with new hues.


Nearly all models of iPhone have been lauded for their superior imaging prowess and the iPhone 5S was no exception. iPhone 5S had a 8-megapixel sensor which supported FullHD recording. The new version aka SE tramples it with a 12 MP rear lens supporting 4K recording. The iPhone 5S does not support Live Photo which the new version does. However, both the models still use the same 1.2MP selfie cameras.

Spec and hardware

The iPhone 5S may look exactly like the SE from outside, but the internals have changed a lot. The A7 processor used in the iPhone 5S does not find any place in the successor. The SE sports a more powerful A9 CPU of Apple. The M9 Co processor in the SE is also a step up from the older generation M7 used in the iPhone 5S. The older device has 1 GB of RAM while the SE sports double of that amount. Overall, the performance of the iPhone SE is better than that of its predecessor- as is evident from the beefy hardware and spec. However, the storage options for both the devices remain the same.

Battery life

The battery in iPhone 5S was not very impressive, but the SE manages to make some progress on that ground. Despite having the same small dimension overall, the newer device ships with a 1715mAh battery. The iPhone 5S has a 1510mAh battery which is rather puny. Apple’s in house analysis shows the SE makes drastic improvements in real world performance despite a minor boost on paper.


Just like its devices, Apple continues to pack in new and impressive features in the software too. Both iPhone 5S and SE run the same OS inside, namely the iOS 9.3. One nice thing is that, compared to Android, Apple continues to provide software updates for older devices. As it is, compared to the predecessor the SE version is likely to receive more future software updates.


This is where Apple usually does not deviate from its trend. Apple products have always been costlier than others and despite that they sell like hot cakes. However, to ensure iPhone takes on the low priced android rivals in global markets, Apple has gone low key for pricing of the iPhone SE. Starting at just $399, the launch price of iPhone SE is lower than the launch price of iPhone 5S, truth be told!

Where it all leads to

So, the new iPhone SE actually offers some strong reasons to upgrade from the ageing iPhone 5S. True, the display and touch technology remains the same on both devices. The looks are also the same and inside the phones run the same OS. However, the raw processing power and hardware have got a huge boost in the SE. The rear camera and imaging technology have also received a major upgrade. The battery life has also received a moderate boost. The best part is the SE costs less than what the predecessor used to cost when it was unveiled.

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