The differences between the iPhone 6s and the new iPhone SE

By , Mar 21, 2016

iphone se tech specs vs iphone 6s tech specs

Apple unveiled its new four-inch iPhone at Monday’s ‘Let us loop you in’ event. The new smaller iPhone has been given the name iPhone SE, and in this piece, we’ll talk about how it scales up to the already popular 4.7-inch iPhone 6s and go over the individual differences so you have a better idea of what model is going to be right for you.


Both models of iPhone will come in all four of the popular anodized aluminum colors: Space Gray, Silver, Gold, and Rose Gold. With that in mind, there’s very little difference to go over here. The iPhone SE, on the other hand, still carries the small glass inserts for the top and bottom rear of the device, while the iPhone 6s is very much a full aluminum unibody.


In terms of capacity, the iPhone 6s is going to offer more choices. With the iPhone 6s, users can opt for either a 16GB, 64GB, or 128GB storage capacities, which is going to be useful for keeping all that Ultra-HD 4K video footage on your device. The iPhone SE, on the other hand, comes in limit storage quantities of 16GB and 64GB only, so you don’t get that larger 128GB option.

Weight and dimensions

One iPhone is significantly larger than the other – the iPhone SE is intended to be a little economy phone that is smaller and easier to take around, while the iPhone 6s is intended to be a fair upgrade and the larger display makes media consumption much more appetizing.

In terms of width, the iPhone SE is 2.31 inches (58.6 mm) wide, while the iPhone 6s is 2.64 inches (67.1 mm) wide. Length once again puts the iPhone SE smaller at 4.87 inches (123.8 mm) long, while the iPhone 6s is 5.44 inches (138.3 mm) long. In depth, the iPhone SE is actually thicker at 0.30 inch (7.6 mm) deep, while the iPhone 6s is 0.28 inch (7.1 mm) deep.


In terms of the displays, the iPhone SE has a 4-inch Retina display with a 1136 x 640 resolution at 326 PPI, while the iPhone 6s has a 4.7-inch Retina display with a 1334 x 750 resolution at 326 PPI. Both displays have an LED back lit display, but the iPhone 6s has a much more accurate display of color with a contrast ratio of 1400:1 compared to the iPhone SE’s 800:1.

Both models’ displays have a 500 cd/m2 max brightness rating, full sRGB standard, and a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic display coating, as well as support for displaying multiple languages and characters simultaneously.

The iPhone 6s is the only model that showcases Apple’s unique 3D Touch display, which allows the device’s display to be firmly pressed on as an input gesture. Doing so on the iPhone SE will do nothing. iPhone 6s also offers Reachability because of the larger display that can be harder for some people to reach, while the iPhone SE keeps the thumb-friendly display and doesn’t need the feature. iPhone 6s is also the only model among both with display zoom features.


Both the iPhone 6s and the iPhone SE house a powerful 64-bit A9 chip with an M9 motion co-processor, but there aren’t enough details yet to know if the iPhone SE has a throttled down chip compared to the iPhone 6s to save power and keep the smaller battery alive.

iSight camera

iPhone 6s and iPhone SE have essentially the same camera technology in the back side. It’s a 12 megapixel sensor with 1.22µ pixels, however Apple cites the iPhone 6s to have a “newer” sensor technology. Both cameras sport the following features:

  • Live Photos
  • Autofocus with Focus Pixels
  • True Tone flash
  • Panorama (up to 63 megapixels)
  • Auto HDR for photos
  • Exposure control
  • Burst mode
  • Timer mode
  • ƒ/2.2 aperture
  • Five-element lens
  • Hybrid IR filter
  • Backside illumination sensor
  • Sapphire crystal lens cover
  • Auto image stabilization
  • Improved local tone mapping
  • Improved noise reduction
  • Face detection
  • Photo geotagging

One of the major differences in the camera is that the iPhone 6s Plus, which isn’t technically related to this 6s vs SE showdown, is that the 6s Plus has optical image stabilization, while neither the 6s or SE do.

Video recording

Video recording performance between the iPhone 6s and iPhone SE should be right about the same being that both support Ultra-HD 4K video recording at 30 FPS, 1080p HD video recording at 30 ot 60 FPS, or 720p HD video recording at 30 FPS.

Both cameras also support the following video recording features:

  • True Tone flash
  • Slo-mo video support for 1080p at 120 FPS and 720p at 240 FPS
  • Time-lapse video with stabilization
  • Cinematic video stabilization (1080p and 720p)
  • Continuous autofocus video
  • Improved noise reduction
  • Taking 8 megapixel still photos while recording 4K video
  • Playback zoom
  • 3x zoom
  • Face Detection
  • Video geotagging

Just like with photographs, only the iPhone 6s Plus has optical video stabilization. Neither the iPhone 6s or iPhone SE have this feature either, so both video cameras are on pretty level ground.

FaceTime HD camera

When it comes to the front-facing FaceTime HD camera, the iPhone SE is going to be rather junky compared to the iPhone 6s. The iPhone SE keeps an older 1.2 megapixel sensor, while the iPhone 6s has a 5 megapixel sensor.

Both cameras support 720p HD video recording, Auto HDR for photos, backside illumination sensing, exposure control, Retina Flash, burst mode, timer mode, and face detection, but there are some additional key differences to look at.

For example, only the iPhone 6s supports auto HDR for videos, and the iPhone 6s has a slightly better aperture at ƒ/2.2 rather than the iPhone SE’s ƒ/2.4.

The iPhone 6s FaceTime HD camera just kicks the butt of the iPhone SE’s FaceTime HD camera; there’s no excuse about it.

Touch ID

Both the iPhone 6s and iPhone SE have a Touch ID sensor that can be used to unlock the device, make purchases from Apple’s digital content stores, and use Apple Pay.

Notably, as Apple points out, the iPhone 6s has an upgraded second-generation Touch ID sensor, while the iPhone SE has the slower first-generation Touch ID sensor.

Cellular and wireless

If you’re looking for an iPhone that’ll work best as world communications device, the iPhone 6s might be a better option. The iPhone 6s supports a wider range of LTE bands (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30) compared to the iPhone SE’s limited (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 29) bands. Other communications, like TD-LTE, TD-SCDMA, UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA, CDMA EV-DO Rev. A, and GSM/EDGE are the same for both devices.

In terms of Wi-Fi, both devices support 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, although only the iPhone 6s supports MIMO, a multi-antenna system that can help improve data transmission speeds back and forth between wireless devices.

Bluetooth 4.2, a low energy communications medium, and NFC for wireless payments, are included in both devices.

External buttons and connectors

The iPhone 6s and iPhone SE have a slightly varied design. The iPhone SE takes on a dated design, while the iPhone 6s takes on a slightly newer one; nevertheless, both devices carry the same buttons and connectors, with a couple of differences.

Both devices have a Touch ID-enabled Home button on the front, as well as a set of volume buttons on the left side and a ring/silent switch right above that. On the other hand, the sleep/wake button on the iPhone SE is found on the top right, while the sleep/wake button on the iPhone 6s is found on the right side of the device.

Both devices have a 3.5 mm headphone jack at the bottom left, a Lightning connector at the bottom center, and built-in speaker at the bottom right. The iPhone 6s has a microphone on either side of the Lightning connector, while the iPhone SE has a microphone only on the side of the 3.5 mm headphone jack.

Power and battery

The iPhone SE might be a little better on battery life than the iPhone 6s under certain conditions. The iPhone 6s is rated for 14 hours of talk time on 3G, just like the iPhone SE is, but in terms of internet usage, this is where things get a little different:

Internet use on iPhone 6s:

  • 10 hours on 3G
  • 10 hours on LTE
  • 10 hours on Wi-Fi

Internet use on iPhone SE:

  • 12 hours on 3G
  • 13 hours on LTE
  • 13 hours on Wi-Fi

Battery life in audio playback is the same 50 hours for both devices, and the battery life in standby mode is the same 10 days for both devices.

Both devices also support recharging their lithium-ion batteries by way of the included Lightning to USB cable through the AC adapter or the computer, but it’s worth noting that the iPhone 6s is going to have a higher-capacity battery and may take longer to charge than that the iPhone SE.


The iPhone 6s has all of the sensors that the iPhone SE has, but the iPhone SE lacks the barometer that the iPhone 6s has. The barometer is an air pressure sensor that can allow your device to detect vertical movement without the use of a GPS, and so the iPhone 6s may be a little more efficient in location tracking because of this.

System requirements

Both devices need an Apple ID for some system features, as well as internet access. Both devices also require iTunes on a Mac running OS X 10.8.5 or later or a PC with Windows 7 or later.

The only difference here is the iPhone 6s works with iTunes 12.3, and the iPhone SE requires iTunes 12.3.3, which was released the day of its announcement.

Wrapping up

These are the main differences between the iPhone 6s and iPhone SE. The price point is going to be the major selling factor, as well as the size of the device itself. Some people really liked the smaller display, while others really prefer the larger ones that are becoming much more mainstream in the tech market today. The iPhone 6s starts at $649, while the iPhone SE starts at $399.

Which iPhone would you prefer to have? Share in the comments!

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  • Nathan

    To be honest, I’d drop the money on this phone or the 6s (if I had the 5s). The iPhone 6 is pointless at this point.

    • Cristian B

      Yeah, especially because of the fact that the 6 is barely any more powerful than than the 5S. And the SE is just as good as the 6S minus 3D Touch. You would be a fool to get an iPhone 6 now.

      • @sexyhamthing

        No lol.

        You want a decently sized phone, But dont want to pay 6s prices for more or less the same phone?

        Not everyone is richie rich

      • Cristian


    • JazzyUK

      And yet millions flogged to get the 6s thanks to Apple’s marketing machine conning people into buying phones with out dated specs.

  • Joaquim N.

    “The only difference here is the iPhone 6s works with iPhone 12.3, and the iPhone SE requires iPhone 12.3.3, which was released the day of its announcement.”

    I think you meant iTunes 12.3 and iTunes 12.3.3.

    • RayRayBeav

      Glad I’m not the only one who realized this.

    • Oops. I updated the post. Thank you

      • Jackson Grong

        “The iPhone 6s has a microphone on either side of the Lightning connector, while the iPhone SE has a microphone only on the side of the 3.5 mm headphone jack.”
        Not true, the 6S has 2 microphones, one next to the 3.5 mm port, and the other in between the camera and flash.

  • Rook HD

    ok guys I know how the iphone SE 2 will look like (spoiler alert: like the iphone 6/6s)

  • Patrick

    I really don’t like how this article feels like it was written towards a dumb audience.

    • Max Payne

      Unfortunately it’s comments like this that will have you barred from iDB and I should know. You also get labelled a troll from some which is unfair and also unfortunate. A lot of blog/tech sites are forcing commenters to become more sterile in an antiseptic environment. Good news is the pendulum always swings back so hang in there. 🙂

  • Rook HD

    Tim Cook is so badly brainwashed by Jony Ive’s design magic that he didn’t realize this new iphone SE looks exactly like the iphone 5s

    • Bradley Hines

      That was the point though. The whole idea was to make it almost entirely like the IPhone 5s just with updated specs lol. People wanted the iPhone 5s size just with updated specs. Not everyone wants a 4.7 and 5.5 inch screen phone. The whole purpose was intentional. No one was brain washed.

      • 5723alex .

        Not only that but the SE is compatible with 5s cases, battery packs… so no need to buy new accessories.

      • I still have my iPhone 5S and I love the screen size, I personally love use my iPhone with just one hand without look dumb for the bigger size, like the original iPhone commercial say once: “you can go from here to there with just one hand” now you need to use mods to change your screen, so you can use just one hand or two just for go to one corner, is useless for me.

  • OWashe

    If the processor is not throttled down. This iPhone will have better graphics performance when compared to the other iPhones

  • besrate hogsa

    btw ios 9.3 was just released to the masses

  • Pablo

    What about RAM?

    • 5723alex .


      • Eric

        Where is this confirmed?

      • Robin

        It’s confirmed nowhere. I sure hope so that the SE will get 2GB ram but in the comparison at iMore they seem to believe it’s only 1GB of RAM (like the iPhone 6) instead of 2GB ram like in the iPhone 6s (Plus).

  • JazzyUK

    I didn’t know people still use 4′ phones in our day and age.

    • Eric

      I’ve known many people that held onto their 5s because of size. This iPhone is not for everyone but for someone.

      • Robin

        I’m one of them. Really love the size (and look) of my iPhone 5s. Really fits well in my pocket of my jeans. Larger sized phone can’t stay in my pocket while riding my bycicle from home work. Aside from that I really love that i don’t need to press the home button an extra time to get ‘reachability’ feature or use two hands to use my iPhone. I don’t have such big hands.

    • tariq

      I would go back to smaller phone if smaller phones would get the same specs and design as the bigger phones. Like battery and edge design..

    • Ja1lBreak K1nG

      I guess it’s good to have options.. not to long ago 4′ was the only option!

      • JazzyUK

        That was 4 years ago. Nowadays people use phones for browsing, movies, etc. I can’t imagine doing these on a 4 inch screen as it may hasten the deterioration of my vision.

      • Ja1lBreak K1nG

        that’s what I meant! It’s good to have options: 4′, 4.7 and 5.5 inches.. so people can buy the size they prefer!

  • jaysoncopes

    Alrighty, usually I don’t comment about the article itself, but TBH this had a lot of potential and kinda let me down. Not really interested in reading all of that, and there were no highlights and a lot of “well here they’re the same”. I’d love to see some more TL;DR in the future 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  • Yet another Apple release without upping their entry level storage size?! I’m over the Apple fad now and will just stick with my 6s Plus for a few years. Maybe by then they could possibly figure out 16GB is too small for mobile devices. Pretty pathetic they haven’t figured that out by now….
    They also need to offer more cloud storage because only 5GB for free is also pathetic.
    I’m all for Apple, but have recently been around a lot of Droid phones and have realized Apple is in no way superior to Samsung. At best they are about even, but the expandable memory and much better displays are starting to make me want the next Galaxy Note that gets released. The Note 5 is one sweet one and anyone that tries to say otherwise has their head way too far up their own ace.

  • Andrea Verocio

    Lack of barometer and 3D touch ruined the SE for me. And maybe i could even live without 3D touch but the barometer was the first thing i looked for. I really wanted to get a iPhone of my own this summer (one with a square bezel and a 4″). I already own a nano which is great. what a let down 🙁