Published On: Thu, Apr 23rd, 2020

Review: Apple’s inexpensive and contented iPhone SE

It’s admittedly difficult to have a analogous examination about a iPhone SE. This device isn’t unequivocally in a same area as a iPhone 11, even yet it’s furnished with a same plush carpeting and feathery armchairs.

The iPhone SE is a value offering. Even yet we will use comparatives via this square to assistance put it in a context of Apple’s lineup, that substantially doesn’t matter to a immeasurable infancy of intensity business for this device.

Simply, it’s a super value for a price, usually outstanding really. And a damn good phone. Alas, we am too used to no home symbol for it to be unequivocally appealing to me, yet this is going to be a good phone for millions of people. And speak about timing on a value side of things — $399 for an iPhone with Apple’s latest energy plant on house is huge.

The discerning response to a iPhone SE was that it was “an iPhone 8 with iPhone 11 internals.” That’s…well, that’s true. There was some entire view of shruggery about Apple producing a phone out of their “spare” parts. But, dear reader, your turn of fad about that is unequivocally approaching going to be tied closely to how many we can means to spend on a phone, how many we caring about camera peculiarity and how many of a priority a distance of your phone is to you.

Let’s start during a end.

Size and feel

It’s smaller, yet not too small. If you’re keening for a 4” phon we won’t find a condolence we enterprise here, yet it’s refreshingly skinny and light and unequivocally easy in a strech department. If those things are critical for you, it’s a usually diversion in city with uninformed internals.

I indeed bought an aged iPhone SE a while behind as a slot device, yet we found that we could no longer reliably form on a 4” phone.

The new iPhone SE is usually excellent in that regard, and 4.7” is what we cruise to be my reduce extent for typing reliably. That, of course, does not request if your hands are smaller or your fingers are shorter than mine. If that’s a case, we might still find a iPhone SE to be too vast for your tastes. But alongside stream iPhones it is many petite.

Touch ID creates an entrance on a iPhone SE — fortuitously as we enter a star where many of us will be facade wearers for some time and Face ID is naturally singular in a effectiveness.

Pushing a home symbol is so awkward. The violent continuance and application of a swipe-able interface presented in a iPhone X jumps out tough here. Those appropriate gestures are so healthy and organic now that violation them is no easy feat. If we are entrance from a stream Touch ID device you’ll be ok, yet it will be a large composition from, say, an iPhone X.

There’s not many some-more to contend given we’ve seen this pattern in a iPhone 8. It still feels good and modern.

I didn’t have adequate time to do a critical battery life exam yet it seemed…fine? It’s so tough to tell a initial integrate of days anyway with indexing and other credentials things happening. Apple also says that a new iPhone SE is IP67 rated for adult to 1 scale for 30 mins so it’s still asperse proof, one of a biggest reducers of random repairs to come to iPhone in a years given a initial SE.


The iPhone SE’s camera complement is a singular monocular further to a lineup. It’s a single, wide-angle camera with an effective 28mm focal length. This is somewhat narrower than we’re used to saying in iPhones these days, many of that strike around 26mm. This means a slightly closer stand on photos. There is no telephoto lens, usually like a iPhone XR.

The iPhone SE gets a boost from a totally new picture tube of a iPhone 11 and 11 Pro. The ISP and a Neural Engine of a A13 processor give it some-more assistance in a accumulation of ways, generally given that so many of what creates adult photography is in now unequivocally mechanism math.

Even with a unpleasant skip of a telephoto lens, this is still one of a softened smartphone cameras on a marketplace given it has a full imaging tube of a iPhone 11 behind it. If it didn’t, we consider that it would feel many “older” in terms of imaging quality, yet it speaks to how many of photography is driven by a CPU or GPU rather than a lens and sensor these days.

This proves out, as in my tests, a iPhone SE camera was many softened over a iPhone 8, and charity some-more mural modes than a iPhone XR. The additional modes concentration on slicing subjects out of a background. Their inclusion is tied directly to a ability of a Neural Engine (a apportionment of a A13’s chip dedicated to high frequency, low-lift appurtenance training tasks) to govern segmentation masking and semantic rendering.

It also annals stretched energetic operation 4K 30 fps video and 4K 60 fps video with cinematic stabilization.

The biggest unsentimental advantage of a pipeline, though, is a softened Smart HDR feature, that we lonesome in my iPhone 11 review. This unequivocally improves fact opposite large tonal ranges from splendid highlights to shade detail. While it does not magically make a iPhone SE a same difficulty of image-making device that a iPhone 11 is, it goes a prolonged approach to creation your normal picture demeanour a best it can.

It does, and should, blow divided a “old” iPhone SE when it comes to sharpness, tinge delivery and energetic range. It’s clearly softened than a prototype and clearly softened than a iPhone 8, that it will many directly reinstate in Apple’s lineup.

For those deliberation stepping downward in their choice of device, it’s value observant here categorically that scarcely opposite a house a picture peculiarity was usually battered by a iPhone 11 Pro. Which is, on one level, expected. The iPhone 11 Pro is a many some-more costly device.

The iPhone SE does not have Night Mode. It performs particularly worse than a iPhone 11 in dim areas given of this. It does have visual stabilization on a behind camera, that helps, yet don’t pattern a same opening in those tough conditions as a some-more costly phones.

Given that a camera performs good opposite many other vectors, this is substantially one of a biggest things in this difficulty to suggest a iPhone 11 over a iPhone SE. That is presumption that we’re even carrying that conversation. Given that so many people use a iPhone as their primary camera, however, we consider it’s one value having. If we are flattering gentle with “whatever” cinema a iPhone takes, a SE is going to broach with drifting colors. You get a garland of technical improvements and opening leaps behind a scenes and a solid, if not amazing, visual front end. Basically, “It is what it is.”


I cite a iPhone SE’s tinge delivery to a iPhone XR. Though, on paper, a Liquid Retina Display and a Retina HD Display should be flattering many a same opening wise, there’s always been something a bit off-putting to me about a XR’s tinge tinge — with True Tone off and during a same brightness, a iPhone SE tends to be some-more neutral comfortable with a iPhone XR finale adult on a cooler finish of a spectrum.

These observations are, by definition, anecdotal. And a panels that Apple is regulating in a iPhone SE are not unequivocally anything special — they are run of a indent “fantastic,” as is common for a iPhone. The iPhone 11 Pro’s OLED screen, of course, trumps simply on black levels, tinge and tone.

The categorical differences between a iPhone XR and a iPhone SE shade come down to a ‘edge-to-edge’ pattern of a XR’s wraparound arrangement and a SE’s some-more customary rectangle. Well, that and tap-to-wake.

The 32% disproportion in sum pixels between a dual inclination is a finish non-factor in my testing, by a way. Once again, not a outrageous warn given a same 326 PPI.

As with a gesticulate situation, we really, unequivocally skip tap-to-wake. Not being means to arise your phone to look during a shade with a hold is a step behind in usability for anyone who has formerly owned an iPhone with that feature, and we rarely inspire people deliberation a pierce “down” to a SE to cause in losing that utility.

If you’re entrance from another iPhone though it you’ll be fine, yet if we had it, you’re gonna skip it.

Greasing a chute

The iPhone SE adds lubrication to what has historically been a many frictional territory of Apple’s entrance trench to a ecosystem. Where Apple formerly relied on a shake of used inclination being put into a marketplace or handed down to family members as a “spackle” for a low-end on-ramp, it now has a initial celebration offering. One that is indeed an extraordinary value for a price.

That reduce cost indicate can be looked during by a quite useful prism: it’s cheaper, and it fills in gaps in Apple’s device pricing umbrella. The final time people suspicion Apple was creation a play for affordability was behind in 2013 during a subsidization epoch with a iPhone 5C. That didn’t indeed assistance with a on-ramp emanate given Apple did not dedicate to a “cheap phone” plan on any genuine level. Instead of a low finish phone everybody expected, it expelled a comparatively high-end phone as a branching ascent trail for iPhone 5 users.

This time around, we get to see accurately how a ‘cheap’ iPhone will perform.

I know Apple executives hatred that word, yet there’s a good UK jargon that I’ve always loved: inexpensive and cheerful. That’s accurately what a iPhone SE is. Attractive, inexpensive and pleasing to use. Not a bad tagline for a device.

But what does a association get out of it, really? Is undercutting a cost of a iPhone XR or other inclination value it in a prolonged run?

To entirely know a iPhone SE’s interest for Apple, here’s a few bullet points to consider:

  • People in Apple’s star spend income with Apple.
  • Once people enter Apple’s world, they are mostly unequivocally confident and do not leave.
  • People are rewarded for entrance with an intensely affordable device that will be upheld for 5 years or some-more — an easy attention peak.
  • Revenue generated per U.S. iPhone strike $80 in 2018.
  • Subscription income for U.S. mobile apps jumped 21% in 2019.
  • Worldwide app stores saw record consumer spend of $120B in 2019.

Back in 2018, researcher Horace Dediu remarkable that Apple seemed to be emphasizing a “lasts longer” plan for iPhones. The strategy, he noted, prioritized use and users over units sold, that became reinforced when Apple stopped stating section shipments information and increased a metrics it doled out about a Services category.

Basically, a longer that Apple keeps iPhones in circulation, a reduction they will sell on an particular basement — yet a longer they would keep people in a ecosystem.

All of this adds adult to a fact that Apple stands to benefit distant some-more from creation a front doorway wider than it does from creation a threshold higher. The iPhone SE opens adult new audiences for Apple. It’s an ideal phone for initial time iPhone users, immature buyers removing their initial device and people now on a budget.

Besides being a initial try by Apple during this marketplace in a complicated smartphone era, it’s also a initial iPhone given a association pivoted heavily into a services business. Apple saw that each iPhone indispensable to give a exhale of life to some-more business for a other groups as a marketplace for inclination entered a oxygen-saturation phase.

The iPhone SE will bring, or graduate, people into a Apple ecosystem and pull income into a services difficulty of a business for years to come. Even if they keep a device for years and never upgrade.

In a time of serious marketplace disruption, where large consumer purchases might take a behind seat, Apple has timed a iPhone SE ideally to offer a genuine need. The separator to entrance is reduce and business know that they will be served by this squeeze for 2-5 years with full subsidy of Apple’s program support and distant softened confidence and remoteness lane record than a rest of a field. Right now, as we’re all isolated, these slot machines make us some-more connected to one another and yield us a salvation of information about a best approach to stay healthy and safe.

As smartphones became entire and afterwards commonplace, they have taken on a purpose of renegade and victim for a series of governmental ills. The concentration on superficiality, mania with tiny things or even plain aged sloth. Now, all of those equations have been scribbled out. Just as relatives have re-thought a thought of shade time while we’re all sealed adult and amicable media has turn a critical apparatus for progressing a reason rather than bragging — we’ve also come to comprehend that maybe a smartphone stands between us and real isolation.

The iPhone SE has come along right as Apple has an event to make those advantages accessible to a widest audience.

This iteration of a iPhone is one of those singular moments where a business gets served, a users get served and everybody comes out of it with a good deal.

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