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 Outdated FaceTime camera.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.

Apple’s own claims show the iPhone SE’s battery life should rival, or be better than its other recent iPhones, and our tests showed this to be the case. iPhone SE’s battery is 1624 mAh, which is in between the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6s. However, iPhone SE is running the presumably more efficient iOS 9.3 from the get-go, and the phone doesn’t have to power a huge display, either. Improved battery life is a genuine reason to switch to the iPhone SE if you find yourself on the fence. We put the iPhone through our Wi-Fi browsing, video watching, and gaming tests, all at 50 percent brightness and 50 percent volume.

In our Wi-Fi browsing test, iPhone SE ran for 10 hours and 40 minutes. This falls short of Apple’s claims, but as we’ve seen in the past, that always seems to be the case. The key point is that it easily bests the times we saw from the iPhone 6s and iPhone 5s — it even outperformed the iPhone 6s Plus.

Our demanding gaming test saw iPhone SE hold out for nearly 7 hours straight running Dumpling’s Dashy Crashy — an active, constantly moving game which might be popular on a smaller screen like the SE’s. Though it’s a different game than we’ve used for our iPhone 6/6s/Plus tests, iPhone SE clocked in just below the iPhone 6s Plus, which makes sense. Our video test was a stunner, as the SE almost got to the 15-hour mark, besting the iPhone 6s Plus. Sure, you probably won’t want to watch that much video on the 4” screen, but it’s nice to know you can.

iPhone SE recharged with the included adapter in 2 hours and 33 minutes, which is a bit slower than both the 5s and 6s, but it’s close. As with all these battery tests, there are always unforeseen factors that may have an effect, and things may change over time with software updates. That being said, we’re confident in our results, and in the iPhone SE’s place as an excellent performer when it comes to battery life.

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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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