Apple iPhone SE review: Apple reanimates the 4in iPhone


Apple’s iPhone SE is going to make a lot of people very, very happy. If you’ve been doggedly clinging to a now-battered iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s, and steadfastly refusing to embrace the new generation of big-screened 5in phones, then the iPhone SE is your dream made real; a retro-sized smartphone with all the power of Apple’s high-end handsets – and for less than £500.

Apple iPhone SE: Design 

For a man who’s spent the past few years with an iPhone 6 Plus in his pocket, the iPhone SE both looks and feels disconcertingly tiny. Design-wise, Apple has done away with the rounded edges of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, and returned to a more squared-off profile – one that’s more than a little reminiscent of the old iPhone 5 and 5s. If you were hoping for a carbon copy of the iPhone 5s, you’re in luck.

In fact, according to Apple’s specifications, the iPhone SE is literally the same size and weight as the iPhone 5s. At 7.6mm thick, it’s chunkier than any other iPhone in the range, but this is largely a good thing, making it a little more wieldy in larger hands. And weighing in at 113g, it’s 30g lighter than the iPhone 6s and 25g lighter than the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact. 

Frankly, if you thought 2013’s iPhone was the perfect size and shape, then you’re probably already clicking through the various options on Apple’s site in another browser window. The only question is whether you want to pre-order it in Silver, Gold, Space Grey or Rose Gold, and whether you want it in 16GB or 64GB flavours. Decisions, decisions.

Apple iPhone SE: A miniature iPhone 6s?

Although the iPhone SE looks like a slightly refined iPhone 5s on the outside, it’s got the heart of an iPhone 6s on the inside. It’s not literally a shrunken iPhone 6s, though. To keep prices below the £500 mark, Apple has made some changes. It’s done away with the pressure-sensing 3D Touch technology, and also made do with a first-generation Touch ID sensor. 

If you’ve gotten used to the lightning-quick fingerprint recognition of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, then you’ll have to be a little more patient with the iPhone SE. The other differences are fairly subtle, though, so I’ll get into those a little later on.

“The iPhone SE does take a little getting used to if you’ve acclimatised to larger phones.”

The iPhone SE does take a little getting used to if you’ve acclimatised to larger phones. I have big hands, and equally outsized fingertips, and I found I had to type slower to stop myself from making mistakes. To its credit, though, Apple’s onscreen keyboard does a good job of dealing with outsized mitts – it doesn’t take long to get used to the smaller screen size, even if typos are a more regular occurrence.

There are benefits to that small screen, though. One of those is that the iPhone SE doesn’t need the Reachability feature of its larger brethren. For all but the smallest of hands, it’s easy to reach every corner of the screen without having to adjust your grip or stretch your fingers uncomfortably.

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