On March 21st Apple had their latest conference presenting the world with their newest batch of goodies. The highlight of the conference was a new addition to their current crop of iPhones, the iPhone SE (Which as it turns out stands for Special Edition not one of the more “creative” names twitter came up with). With orders for the iPhone SE starting yesterday and shipping out on the 1st of April let’s have a look at Apples latest offering and decide whether or not the iPhone SE is worth upgrading to.
Apple have always prided themselves on being innovators of design which is why it is somewhat surprising to see them present what is essentially a rehash of the iPhone 5 generation design for the SE. The iPhone SE has a 4 inch screen an uncommon size for a modern high end smartphone but not necessarily an unpopular one as Apple claim to have sold 30 million 4 inch smartphones last year. There are some slight changes from the 5th gen, including a new colour (Rose/White to go along with Gold/Silver, Black/Silver and Silver/White), the Apple logo in matching colours from the 6th gen as well as matte chamfered edges on the frame, but basically it looks the same as an iPhone 5s.
While some may accuse the iPhone 6 SE’s design of being dated there is no way of levelling that same accusation when it comes to its hardware. The SE has much of but not all the same hardware as you find in Apples top iPhone the 6s.
The SE has the same 12-megapixel rear camera found in the 6s, a big bump up from the 8-megapixel camera found in the 5s and 6. The SE will also be able to shoot 4K video just like the 6s. The front facing camera is less impressive at 1.2 megapixels the same as the 5s and the 6, but it will have retina flash making it a slight improvement over these early models. Thought it is still a step down from the 5-megapixel front camera found on the 6s
Processing & Storage
The internals of the SE are essentially identical to the 6s (64 Bit A9 processor, 2 Gb RAM, Dual Core 1.84GHZ CPU and PowerVR GT7600 GPU) giving it the same processing capabilities. The only difference between the two is that the SE is only available in 16 or 64Gb models missing out on the beefy 128Gb version.
The SE comes with a Li-Po 1642mAh battery which is a greater capacity than the 5s (1560mAh) but lower than both the 6 (1810mAh) and the 6s (1715mAh) despite the decrease in capacity the Wall Street Journal found that it lasted 2 hours longer than both the 6s and almost three hours longer than the Galaxy S7 in stress testing.
While larger phones with bigger displays (Such as the iPhone 6/6s and their plus counterparts) are the current norm, a return to the 4-inch design is not necessarily a backward step. There is no denying that ergonomically the 4-inch design fits excellently in both your hand or pocket and is much more useful for active people than carrying around a phablet all day. Personally after using both larger android devices and the iPhone 6 I have found the 4-inch design of my 5s to be a much more comfortable fit. Add onto that the inclusion of most of the hardware from the 6s and you have a big increase in power from the 5s. For the people who require a large screen on their phone for photography, watching videos or playing games the smaller display of the SE will be off-putting but they will likely have upgraded already to the 6 or 6s. For those who are still holding on to their 5/5s/5c like me the SE is the perfect upgrade allowing them to retain the familiar compact design while still getting a big boost in hardware.
As unusual as it is to see apple looking retrospectively for design choices overall the iPhone SE is a return to a well liked and very effective design with internal hardware almost equivalent to the 6s at a much cheaper price.