iPhone 5se details leaked ahead of expected spring release

For the last two years, upgrading to an up-to-date iPhone has meant also opting for a larger one. With even the smaller of the two 6 and 6s handsets touting a display size many iPhone owners found cumbersome, those who preferred a smaller smartphone had two options: hold onto their older iPhone and forsake the latest upgrades, or switch to another brand of smartphone.

Now, Apple has introduced a third option in the form of the 5se, a new 4-inch handset whose details we now know thanks to 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman. The 5se, whose letters Gurman reports may represent a "special edition" of the vintage 4-inch screen size or an "enhanced" version of the iPhone 5s, will replace the aforementioned model as Apple's entry-level iPhone.

Besides having the same dimensions as the 5s, Gurman reports the physical appearance of the new handset will vary from its predecessor in two main areas. The chamfered edges of the 5s will be replaced with curved glass, similar to that seen on the 6 and 6s models. Plus, while the iPhone 5s is only offered in two colors, the new 5se will come in the same color configurations as the current flagship iPhones: silver, space grey, gold and rose gold. 

On the inside, the list of innovations is far longer. While early rumors of the product suggested it would boast the same A9 processor that powers the 6s series, Gurman now reports that they will instead contain the slightly slower A8 chip that can be found inside the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. While it won't pack the same punch as initially estimated, the A8 processor is still a significant upgrade from the 5s's A7: about 25 percent faster in CPU tasks and about 50 better in graphics tasks, according to Apple. 

The new device will also parallel the iPhone 6 in camera quality, according to Gurman, with both handsets coming equipped with an 8 megapixel rear camera and a 1.2 megapixel front camera. While these numbers are identical to those of the 5s, the iPhone 6 benefited from an improved image sensor and image signal processor in its A8 chip, improvements it will pass on to its smaller counterpart.

Not all of the 5se's upgrades will come from the iPhone 6, however. Gurman reports that the upcoming iPhone 5se will feature the same LTE, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity chips as the iPhone 6s, meaning it will be among Apple's best connected handsets. The phone will also include an NFC chip, meaning it will support Apple Pay. 

Notably absent from the iPhone 5se's list of expected features is the 3D Touch functionality, which Apple unveiled alongside its iPhone 6s and 6s Plus this past September.

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