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Apple iPhone SE vs iPhone 6S: Which is best for me?

The newly unveiled iPhone SE may look like a 5S, but in truth, it more closely stacks up against the current top dog, the iPhone 6S.

iPhone SE vs iPhone 6S: At a glance

  Apple iPhone SE Apple iPhone 6S
Screen Size 4-inches 4.7-inches
Screen Resolution Retina (1136x640) Retina HD (1334x750)
Weight 113 grams 143 grams
Processor Apple A9 Apple A9
Storage 16GB, 64GB 16GB, 64GB, 128GB
Battery 1642mAh 1715mAh
Rear 'iSight' Camera 12-megapixels 12-megapixels
Front 'FaceTime' Camera 1.2-megapixels (f2.4) 5-megapixels

iPhone SE vs iPhone 6S: Design

No points for guesses as to where Apple might have got its design inspiration from, as the SE is essentially a carbon copy of the old iPhone 5S. That means an aluminium body (unconfirmed as to whether it uses the same 7000 series aluminium employed by the 6S, but it’s likely) with chamfered edges and glass ‘caps’ on the upper and lower portions of the phone’s back. The biggest new addition is a rose gold option – a colour which until now, was an iPhone 6S and 6S Plus exclusive.

Apple iPhone SE design

The 6S, like its predecessor, is unsurprisingly taller, wider and heavier than the SE (143 grams vs 113 grams), but it’s also 0.5mm thinner at 7.1mm, which paired to its smooth, rounded sides and curved surface glass give it a much more elegant look and comfortable feel in the hand.

There is one small advantage to rocking the thicker SE however; it doesn’t have a camera bump. Unlike the 6 and 6S lines, which have a protruding camera surround, the SE has a completely flat back with a camera that sits flush. For some users, this is a big deal.

Read next: 4 things we love about the new iPhone SE

iPhone SE vs iPhone 6S: Screen and media

If you’re frequently watching videos, sorting through long emails or perhaps reading eBooks, then the 6S is the smarter option here. The 4.7-inch Retina HD display packs a resolution of 1334x750 giving you 326 pixels per inch. What’s more, it has a significantly better contrast ratio of 1400:1, versus the SE’s 800:1.

With the same 326ppi, but the tighter constraints of a 4-inch panel, you can expect text and imagery to be scaled down by comparison on the phone’s Retina display, potentially making it harder to read or view content. On the upside, both phones boast the same 500nit-strong backlighting and great viewing angles to boot.

Apple iPhone 6S 3D Touch

The other big consideration is 3D Touch; the 6S has it, the SE does not. Apple’s newest iPhone doesn’t sit quite as high up in the hierarchy as the flagship 6S, meaning it misses out on the pressure sensitive interaction methods that the larger phone offers users. Whether this is a make or break omission is down to your wants as a user.

Both phones also feature a single offset loudspeaker at their base. Your palm could easily cover it, but it’ll dole out respectable audio quality and decent overall volume in most situations if unobstructed.

Read next: 5 actual uses for 3D Touch

iPhone SE vs iPhone 6S: Features

There’s a lot that these iPhones share on the inside as well as out, but when it comes to laying down some cash, there is one notable difference worth taking into account – storage.

Apple, for some unknown reason, continues to produce iPhones with 16GB of non-expandable internal storage. For most users a few photos, videos, apps and updates can max out this available space in a few short months. Nonetheless both phones start as 16GB options, jumping to 64GB and for the SE, that’s the storage ceiling. If you want to carry more media around in your pocket, you’ll have to opt for the 6S, which can be had with an impressive 128GB of internal storage, provided you can handle the inflated price tag that it comes with.

Apple iPhone SE Touch ID

There’s a distinct difference in security too. Both phones rock Apple’s Touch ID sensor, which accepts fingerprints for unlocking the device, authenticating app downloads and even verifying purchases using Apple Pay – another feature that both phones support. However, the SE uses the older Touch ID sensor found on the iPhone 5S. The only real difference is speed, as the Touch ID experience on the 6S is lightning fast, reading your print in under a second – the experience offered up by the sensor on the SE will likely be a little slower.

iPhone SE vs iPhone 6S: Performance and battery life

Arguably the best thing about the SE is that it’s powered by internals very similar to that of the 6S. Both phones rock Apple’s 64-bit A9 chipset and early benchmark tests revealed that the SE also matches the 6S with 2GB of RAM. With the lesser demands of the lower resolution screen to take into account too, the SE should feel as fast, fluid and responsive as the 6S, if not more so.

Apple iPhone 6S gaming

Apple cited twice the graphical performance of the 5S too, so if you’re a gamer and you can manage with the smaller display, games will look very good and run very well. It's worth noting that whilst the A9 chipset does also boast Apple's integrated M9 coprocessor, the version on the SE loses out on the barometer, so the phone can't log altitude when tracking fitness data, a feat still possible with the M9 chip on the 6S.

Going by the numbers alone, the larger 6S gets a more capacious battery (1715mAh), however despite looking like a 5S, Apple has upped the battery inside the SE to 1642mAh, which based on the company’s own estimates gives it comparable longevity to the 6S in most areas, such as standby time and superior longevity it aspects like video playback.

iPhone SE vs iPhone 6S: Cameras

The camera experience on the 6S was something of a milestone when it surfaced, being the first Apple smartphone to support a sensor with a double digit megapixel count, the first capable of shooting video in 4K and the first to leverage a front-facing Retina Flash.

Apple iPhone SE camera

Thankfully, nearly all of that impressive camera experience has been translated over to the SE, making it the smallest, most compact smartphone on the market with 4K video capability. It also shares in the 6S’s 240fps slow motion video recording, can capture 63-megapixel panoramas and also gets that Retina Flash.

There is one area where it lags behind though. It may share in the 12-megapixel glory of the 6S on the back, but move around to the front camera and you’ll be presented with a 1.2-megapixel unit with an f2.4 aperture. Those are the same numbers as the front camera found on 2012’s iPhone 5 and it’s a far cry from the 5-megapixel front-facer the 6S uses.

iPhone SE vs iPhone 6S: Price

Now the big question, how much is the iPhone SE? Whilst the larger iPhone 6 and 6S have proven popular with Apple fans, there’s always been a contingent who have longed for the old days of smaller iPhones and with the SE, Apple is clearly catering to that demographic. A smaller phone also, thankfully comes with a smaller price tag and the 16GB SE will cost just £359. That’s £180 less than the equivalent 6S, for a phone, which offers wholly similar performance.

Apple iPhone SE iPhone 6S storage price comparison

The larger 64GB SE is still £100 cheaper than the 16GB 6S at £439 and the equivalent 64GB 6S costs £619. With such a notable price gap, the iPhone SE looks like it’ll be the best value for money iPhone out there and broaden its appeal to users who didn’t were put off by the £600 price tag of its larger sibling.

Read next: Apple iPhone SE price and release date

You can read our full iPhone 6S review here and stay tuned for our iPhone SE review, very soon.

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