The new iPhone SE, which essentially takes the powerful processor from the iPhone 6S and puts it into a 4-inch design. Apart from the new rose gold color, it’s almost completely indistinguishable from the iPhone 5 or (now-discontinued) 5S. Same chamfers, same screen, same bezels. If there’s any surprise, it’s that Apple didn’t skimp on anything here (except, of course, the storage). The camera is the same 12-megapixel shooter you’d get on an iPhone 6S, except here it’s even better because it doesn’t stick out at all. One advantage the iPhone SE will have in the market is that it’s a ‘new’ phone. By going with iPhone SE and dropping any numbers from the branding it leaves marketing teams from Apple and all its carrier and retail partners to push this as a new phone, as opposed to an update to (arguably) a four-year old design.
It has everything you’d expect from the latest iPhone: The A9 processor is three times faster than the chip in the 5s. There’s a 12-megapixel camera that also captures 4K video. It has Touch ID. You can get it in rose gold and it starts at $400. The only glaring omission is3D Touch functionality.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in Monday’s announcement was the starting price of the iPhone SE — at just $399 for 16 gigabytes, it’s Apple’s most affordable new iPhone model ever. There are two iPhone SE models: 16GB and 64GB. Without a two-year contract, the 16GB model costs $399 and the 64GB model costs $499. The iPhone SE will be sold direct from Apple and carrier locations. Each carrier offers a plan where you pay no money up front but instead pay for the phone over time, such as AT&T Next.
Despite the low entry price, the handset still has Apple’s latest-generation A9 processor and 12-megapixel camera, capable of recording 4K video. Really, compared to an iPhone 6s, the only thing missing from the iPhone SE (aside from a larger display) is pressure sensing 3D Touch.
Sprint and Verizon will sell the iPhone SE for no money down with a two-year contract. AT&T and T-Mobile, however, have both done away with two-year contract plans — you’ll have to pay the full price upfront or opt for a payment plan.
Once we got our hands on it, we could really see how the most petite iPhone we’ve seen since theiPhone 5S (also 4 inches) matches the larger iPhone 6S and 6S Plus on speed and features. It’s zippy. The phone slipped easily into a shirt pocket and disappeared, just like old times.
When it comes to camera quality, the SE should be just about as good as Apple’s other top-end phones. Apple doesn’t skimp on the 12-megapixel camera, another 6S carryover. Low-light selfies work on here, too, because the screen flashes to illuminate an otherwise-dark scene. 4K video is there, as well.
The absence of 3D Touch is somewhat disappointing, but it’s likely a technical issue that Apple isn’t able to pull off. And the handset maxes out at 64 gigabytes, so those with a large library of photos, videos and apps will need to go for a larger form factor to get 128 gigabytes.
It’s available in two storage capacities, four color choices and will launch with the usual carriers. You have your choice of silver, gold, space gray and rose gold. You also have your choice of four carriers in the US — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon — or SIM-free (unlocked).