Review: Apple iPhone SE | iLounge

Review

Review: Apple iPhone SE

B+
Recommended

Company: Apple

Model: iPhone SE

MSRP: $399-$499

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Phil Dzikiy

Pros: A smaller, lighter iPhone. Reasonably priced. Users with smaller hands should find it easy to use. Familiar 5s design is still an attractive winner. Upgraded internals (A9, M9, 2GB of RAM) allow phone to leap past the iPhone 5s and compete with the iPhone 6/6 Plus — it’s faster than you might expect. Camera is largely on par with iPhone 6s. Battery life is excellent. Has no issues with running newest iOS update at this point, and shouldn’t for a while.

Cons: Smaller phone means smaller display. Not introducing any new technology. No 128GB option, and we wouldn’t recommend the base 16GB option to anyone at this point. No 3D Touch. Outdated FaceTime camera. Onscreen keyboard harder to use for those with larger hands. Slower Touch ID. Standard LTE/no MIMO Wi-Fi.

Though some may have been skeptical regarding last autumn’s rumors about Apple making a new iPhone with a 4” display, that skepticism shouldn’t have lasted for too long. After all, how many times have you heard friends or family members expressing their own skepticism upon seeing the larger sizes of the iPhone 6/6 Plus or iPhone 6/6s Plus — comments such as “how do you use that?” Or “does it fit in your pocket?” While we’ve found for us that the answers to these questions are generally “easily,” and “fine,” some users either can’t get past the size of the larger iPhones, or simply prefer a smaller, more pocketable, less visually invasive smartphone. Or a cheaper smartphone. Enter the iPhone SE.

The new 4” iPhone was originally rumored — or maybe assumed — to be named the iPhone 6c, which made sense, considering the past iPhone 5c’s positioning as a sort of “alternate” iPhone. But reports noted that the body would be metal, not plastic, and perhaps Apple wanted to distance itself from that fading plastic memory. Eventually the true name came out. While we were expecting something more like the iPhone 6 mini, after seeing the iPhone, we understand the SE name a bit more. It’s not a perfect moniker — throwing “S” in there might confuse some folks — but it’s workable.

iPhone SE ($399/16GB, $499/64GB) is technically a new phone, sure, but really it’s a bit of a FrankeniPhone, pulling parts from all sorts of other past iPhones, as early teardowns have revealed. That’s a smart move by Apple, and it’s something that may work for consumers, as well — it’s not like the parts can’t work together.

In the following pages, we run down the ins and outs and pros and cons of Apple’s newest iPhone. Though the SE certainly could be seen as a relatively “safe” purchase — considering its lower price and modest size — we’ll try to figure out the most notable benefits. Along the way, we also to hope to shed more light on the idea of downsizing, as a significant number of iPhone 6/6s/Plus users have considered doing.

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Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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