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iPhone SE vs iPhone 6S vs iPhone 6 - Which should you buy?

Expert Reviews logo Expert Reviews 21-03-2016 Seth Barton
iPhone 6C rumours hero shot© Expert Reviews iPhone 6C rumours hero shot

Apple is just about to announce its latest smartphone, rumoured to be called the iPhone SE. The question is, if you’re looking to upgrade your aging iPhone is this a good alternative the current iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S models? Presuming of course that you can’t hold out, or are unwilling to pay, for the iPhone 7 when that arrives in September

Now, Apple has succeeded in being pretty secretive about the new, cheaper, smaller handset. There’s a fair bit we think we know about it, though and we’ll be working on that speculation until we can update this article with all the facts.

Screen

We expect the new iPhone SE to use a similar 4in display to previous Apple handsets of this size. That means a fairly modest 1,136x640 resolution. It may not sound like much but on that considerably smaller screen it still amounts to 326ppi (pixels per inch). It was this resolution that Apple originally coined the terms Retina Display for, the idea being that you can’t see the pixels at the usual distance you hold the phone from your face.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S have larger 4.7in displays, which in turn have bigger 1,334x750 resolutions, but this still works out to 326ppi. The big gain here is simply a bigger display, a 4in screen feels cramped by modern standards, with even mobile-friendly websites being challenged by a lack of screen space. Watching movies and games will also suffer too. By upgrading to a 6 or 6S you’re getting 38% more screen area.

Design

The new iPhone SE is certainly going to be made of plastic, not metal or glass. Not to worry though as Apple has proved itself perfectly capable of making a great-looking plastic phone in the iPhone 5C. It also means we should get some swish colour options, which is much more fun than the largely metallic monochrome efforts you get on flagship handsets these days.

Performance

Rumours point to the new phone performing somewhere in between the aging iPhone 5S and the last year’s iPhone 6. That would make the most likely choice an Apple A8 system-on-chip, which is the same hardware used inside the iPhone 6. This may then run at a slower speed in order to differentiate it from the bigger phone and improve battery life from what is likely to be a smaller capacity cell.

Camera

Apple’s cameras have always been excellent, with the iPhone 6S currently using a 12-megapixel sensor, with a bright F2.2 lens and dual LED flash for more natural colours. We can’t see Apple equipping its cheaper handset with the same camera as its current flagship. However it may well receive the same 8-megapixel sensor as the iPhone 6, which would make it a more than capable snapper, even if the dual-LED flash was omitted here.

Price

This is the one thing we really can’t say much about. Apple’s previous lower-cost phone, the iPhone 5C turned out to be only slightly less expensive than the outgoing iPhone 5, with a saving of some £80 over that handset’s cost at launch. We’re really hoping that Apple is brave this time around, producing a phone that costs around £300, in order to move aggressively into the mid-range handset market and give iPhone users a genuine alternative to the company’s top-end handsets.

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