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 Outdated FaceTime camera.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.

The iPhone SE iSight rear camera has the exact same specs as the camera found in the iPhone 6s, in both still photography and video recording. It’s a 12MP camera (a bump up from the 5s’ 8MP) with 1.22µ pixels and a f/2.2 aperture, and includes all the other 6s camera features, such as Live Photos, True Tone Flash, 63MP panoramic photos, and so forth. 4K video recording at 30 fps is also supported on the high end of things. You’d think the 6s and SE would look nearly identical, and in some cases, you’d be right. Other times, though, we found slight differences. Perhaps that’s owing to the camera bump on the iPhone 6s, or maybe it’s just our perception. The differences are minimal, regardless.

In standard medium range shots, it was often impossible to tell the difference between the 6s and SE camera. For all of these shots, the SE photo is on top, and the 6s photo is below.


In another somewhat open mid-range shot, the differences are almost imperceptible once more.


We saw a bit more of a difference up close. The detail is very similar in these shots, with both cameras showing the wear on the lock. However, the colors are a bit different, and we find the 6s’ colors to pop a bit more, and be a bit more true to life.


Here the difference isn’t quite as pronounced, and the detail is very similar, but again, we feel there’s a bit more warmth to the latter shot from the 6s. It’s also a bit closer to the actual color of the tree bark. Not all comparative close-up shots gave us such differences, but we saw it often enough to point it out.


iPhone SE’s FaceTime camera is only 1.2MP, as compared to the 5MP FaceTime camera found in the 6s models. The SE FaceTime camera does have Retina Flash, which is an upgrade over the iPhone 6/6 Plus FaceTime camera, but it probably wouldn’t have taken much to include the current 6s model FaceTime camera. We thought this was a puzzling decision by Apple, but honestly, we took quite a few shots and didn’t notice that much difference. Not enough to push a prospective buyer one way or the other, even if he or she is fond of selfies. (We don’t know if this pug is truly fond of selfies or not.)


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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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