iPhone SE vs Z5 Compact vs OnePlus X: Small Phone Face-off

Apple claims its customers asked the company to keep its line of 4-inch iPhones going, so the company obliged by releasing a new 4-inch iPhone to replace the two-year old iPhone 5s: The iPhone SE.

While the newest iPhone doesn’t have a number, it’s clear that Apple took many of the components from the iPhone 6s, and crammed them into a new, sleeker aluminum frame. The iPhone SE starts at $399 for the 16GB model or $499 for the 64GB version, and features a fast A9 CPU, 12-megapixel iSight Camera, 4-inch 1136 x 640 display and a Touch ID fingerprint reader.

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To see how the iPhone SE fares against some of our other favorite small phones, we’re pitting it against the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact and the OnePlus X to see which pint-sized handset is right for you.


At 4.87 x 2.31 x 0.3 inches and weighing 4 ounces, the iPhone SE definitely has a size advantage over the Sony’s Xperia Z5 compact and OnePlus X. However, despite a larger 4.6-inch screen, the Xperia Z5 Compact comes pretty close, measuring 5 x 2.55 x 0.35 inches and weighing 4.86 ounces. The One Plus X is largest of the three at 5.51 x 2.71 x 0.27 inches and 4.86 ounces, though it also has the largest screen at an even 5 inches.


The 5-inch OnePlus X.

The 5-inch OnePlus X.

Starting at $399, the iPhone SE sits between the $249 OnePlus X and the $430 Z5 compact, which is somewhat unusual for Apple, as its products normally land on the more premium side of the price scale. There’s also a $530 Z5 compact with an increased 3GB of RAM, which gives Sony’s phone a small advantage when it comes to configurations.


The iPhone SE features almost the same components as the iPhone 6s which was released last fall, which should outgun the Snapdragon 810-powered Z5. Win an older Snapdragon 801 processor, the One Plus X is definitely not the phone to pick if you want top-notch performance in a smaller device.

As for screens, the iPhone SE's 1136 x 640 4-inch display is not only the smallest, it's also the one with the lowest resolution. The Z5's 4.6-inch screen has a resolution of 1280 x 720 and the 5-inch OnePlus X gives you a 1920 x 1080 full HD experience.

The iPhone SE is also the only phone of the three with a fingerprint sensor, although conversely, it's also the only device without a micro SD card slot, so it's up to you whether you prefer more storage or the improved security and ease of use a Touch ID brings.


Megapixels aren’t everything, which is why Apple equipped the iPhone Se with the 12-MP camera from the iPhone 6s instead of opting for a high-res beast like the 23-MP rear cam on the Z5 Compact. The One Plus X’3s 12-MP rear camera is in the same neighborhood as the iPhone SE, but if the SE’s camera performance is anything like what we’ve seen from the iPhone 6s, it should be the best shooter of the bunch.

In front, the iPhone SE’s low-res 1.2-MP camera may have selfie fans keeping their distance from Apple’s new phone. Selfies may end up looking a little lacking next to 5- and 8-MP shots from the Z5 Compact and OnePlus X. At least the iPhone SE's display lights up as a flash.


Look, colors don’t matter to everyone, especially those for people that hide their phones away in a case, but you can’t deny that color options have an impact on buying decisions. In keeping with recent Apple phones, the iPhone SE comes in four colors: silver, space gray, gold and rose gold. The One Plus X is limited to just white or black. The Z5 Compact trumps them all with seven colors, ranging from coral pink to a foresty slate green. 

Bottom Line

While we'll have to wait to test the iPhone SE, Apple's new 4-inch phone looks to be a strong option for those looking for a small, but feature packed phone. The SE comes with the speed and impressive rear camera performance you get on the iPhone 6s, but in a much more compact, yet still premium design.

However, with a starting price a $399, the OnePlus X remains a really attractive option for those who don't want to fork over four or five Benjamin for a phone. And if you're not a big fan of iOS, the Z5 Compact offers a really great option for Android fans, with its attractive glass-backed design and wealth of color options.

Sam is a Senior Writer at Engadget and previously worked at Gizmodo as a Senior Reporter. Before that, he worked at Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag as a Staff Writer and Senior Product Review Analyst, overseeing benchmarks and testing for countless product reviews. He was also an archery instructor and a penguin trainer too (really).