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 Outdated FaceTime camera.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 iPhone SE isn’t initially impressive. As a hodgepodge of other iPhones without any new technology, it’s hard to get too excited about it. Our thoughts leading up to the announcement were generally that this new iPhone would be a great iPhone for late upgraders. It would be a fine option for people who didn’t really care too much about smartphones. We all have these friends and family members who fit into these categories. The iPhone SE would certainly be seen as “good enough” by these users, and there’s little chance they’d be disappointed. Not everyone follows this stuff for a living, or even as a hobby. There are millions of people who don’t care about the latest and greatest, or what their phone can’t do. The iPhone SE takes nice pictures, it’s fast, it’s not limited within iOS, and its battery will probably last most users all day without issue.

But beyond that, even more discerning technology types have expressed interest in using the iPhone SE. The now-classic design has lured them in, and of course, so has the lower price. The iPhone SE won’t blow you away, but it does everything well enough. It truly is going to come down to what you value more: a larger, more versatile display, or a smaller phone that may be easier to handle, and is certainly easier to carry in a pocket. And though we’ve already seen new SE cases, the phone also works with iPhone 5s cases, which can be found for cheap.

We personally still prefer the larger iPhone models, and more specifically, the iPhone 6s Plus. We appreciate the 6s Plus’ top-of-the-line appeal, to be sure, but more than anything, we missed the big screen when using the SE. Some may be troubled by two-handed use of a smartphone — it doesn’t really bother us considering the other numerous benefits of Apple’s biggest iPhone. If you’re still on the fence about downsizing to the SE, we’d recommend going to the Apple Store and comparing all the phones side-by-side: hold them, use them. For most of our Apple-centric audience, we’d recommend sticking with an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, or waiting for the iPhone 7. But if you want something a little easier to tote around, if you’ve got small hands, or if you simply compared price tags and consider the SE to be “good enough,” we can’t really blame you. The iPhone SE may not be cutting-edge, but it’s a strong performer, and it earns our strong general recommendation.

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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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