iPhone SE: Hands-On Re­view

iPhone Life Magazine - - Front Page - BY TODD BERN­HARD


Ev­ery­thing old is new again, thanks to the iPhone SE. Ap­ple's 4-inch iPhone fea­tures most of the guts of the iPhone 6s in the fa­mil­iar cas­ing of the iPhone 5s. For some users, this form fac­tor may turn out to be just right.


If you dis­missed the Ap­ple iPhone SE ($399) as an en­trylevel smart­phone for the masses, you would be mis­taken. While the SE is the cheap­est of Ap­ple's lineup and likely the most at­trac­tive to cost-con­scious con­sumers, there are a num­ber of rea­sons why the SE is bet­ter than larger iPhones at any price. Mil­lions of users, this writer in­cluded, pre­fer the smaller, pock­etable size of the 4-inch iPhone. I'm also par­tial to the squared-off edges of the SE as op­posed to the slip­pery, curved edges of the iPhone 6s, which make the de­vice eas­ier to drop. An­other perk of the SE is that it works with all iPhone 5 cases, giv­ing you a greater num­ber of fea­tures, col­ors, and prices to choose from.

After two years of own­ing larger iPhones, switch­ing to the iPhone SE has taken me back to the era of the iPhone 5, a sim­pler time when iPhone con­sumers had fewer size choices. Truth be told, I pre­fer the smaller size, even though the trend has been to­ward larger phones in re­cent years.

The SE is Ap­ple's recog­ni­tion that there's a mar­ket for a smaller iPhone. In­deed, the num­bers bear this out. Ac­cord­ing to mo­bile an­a­lyt­ics provider MixPanel.com, more than 30 per­cent of iPhone own­ers are us­ing older mod­els such as the iPhone 5, 5s, 5c, or even iPhone 4 and 4s. Given that larger iPhones have been avail­able for two years, it's likely these cus­tomers pre­fer the size, are cost-con­scious, or both. In ei­ther case, the iPhone SE would be the next log­i­cal up­grade for them.


Thanks to Ap­ple's mo­bile ecosys­tem that in­cludes the Ap­ple Watch, the iPad mini, and larger iPads, the iPhone no longer needs to be my pri­mary de­vice. For ex­am­ple, if I didn't own a tablet, I might feel com­pelled to buy a larger smart­phone to more eas­ily browse the web, read books, play games, and watch videos. But since I own an iPad, I don't need my iPhone to have a big screen.

Sim­i­larly, hav­ing a smart­watch means I don't have to dig out my smart­phone to view and re­spond to no­ti­fi­ca­tions, text mes­sages, or even phone calls. As a re­sult, the size of my phone isn't as im­por­tant as it used to be.


The iPhone SE is $250 less than a com­pa­ra­ble iPhone 6s. Those sav­ings can help jus­tify spend­ing on an Ap­ple Watch, iPad, or, as I would rec­om­mend, more stor­age for the iPhone SE.


That's not to say that the iPhone SE of­fers ev­ery­thing the iPhone 6s does. 3D Touch is miss­ing, which de­tects harder presses on the screen and re­acts ac­cord­ingly. How­ever, to be hon­est, I found that fea­ture to be a gim­mick, and I don't miss it at all. The iPhone 6s also has a 5-megapixel front-fac­ing cam­era for Face­Time and self­ies com­pared to 1.2 megapix­els

for the SE. That's a sig­nif­i­cant dis­tinc­tion, es­pe­cially if you are cre­at­ing self­ies to try to break the in­ter­net!

The other mi­nor ad­van­tage of the iPhone 6s is that it uses a newer, faster Touch ID sen­sor. I haven't no­ticed any de­lays with the SE, ex­cept dur­ing the ini­tial fin­ger­print pro­gram­ming process, which seemed to take longer. STOR­AGE LIM­ITS

I orig­i­nally bought a 16 GB model, but even with­out pho­tos, videos, mu­sic, or even games, I could not man­age to in­stall all of my apps. Ul­ti­mately I ended up ex­chang­ing my phone for a 64 GB model. Un­like the 6s, there is no 128 GB model for the iPhone SE. But once I up­graded to 64 GB, my stor­age prob­lems went away. THE IPHONE 7 DILEMMA

My dilemma will come in Septem­ber, when Ap­ple should re­lease an iPhone 7. The 7 is ex­pected to mimic the styling of the iPhone 6s. There will be a base model and a Plus model, but both will be larger than I pre­fer. How­ever, if Ap­ple adds wire­less charg­ing, sig­nif­i­cant bat­tery life, and a more rugged screen—all of which would re­move the need for a pro­tec­tive case—then that could be a com­pelling rea­son for me to switch.


Pros: • Most of the fea­tures of the 6s in a smaller size • Costs $250 less than the iPhone 6s • Squared-edge de­sign ap­peals to many Cons: • Selfie cam­era is lower res­o­lu­tion than iPhone 6s • No 3D Touch, if that mat­ters to you • Touch ID sen­sor isn't as fast as iPhone 6s THE FI­NAL VER­DICT:

With mil­lions of users, young and old, one size doesn't fit all. For­tu­nately, with the in­tro­duc­tion of the iPhone SE, those of us who pre­fer the com­pact 4-inch form fac­tor don't have to com­pro­mise on fea­tures, with the ex­cep­tion of the selfie cam­era.

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