iPhone SE review

Product Apple iPhone SE
Website Apple
Specifications 64-bit A9 chip with embedded M9 coprocessor, Touch ID sensor, 4in 640×1136 326ppi IPS LCD display, iOS 9.3, 16GB or 64GB storage, 12MP rear-facing iSight camera with dual-LED flash and 4K video, 1.2MP front-facing camera with 720p HD video, 1,624mAh battery offering 14 hours of talk time, 123x59x7.6mm, 113g. 
Price From £359, £439 as reviewed. 

THE LAUNCH of the iPhone SE was one of Apple’s most low-key to date, but we’ve come to the surprise conclusion during our time with the 4in handset that it’s one of the firm’s most interesting releases so far. 

Not only is the iPhone SE Apple’s cheapest smartphone, it’s the most powerful. Unlike the plastic-clad iPhone 5C before it, the latest cut-price iPhone offers near-identical specs to the flagship iPhone 6S, stuffed inside a smaller shell and powering a downsized 4in display. 

The iPhone SE offers a throwback to the iPhone 5S in the design department, sporting the same boxy two-tone aluminium chassis, albeit with slightly tweaked matte chamfered edges and an added Touch ID sensor in the home button.

We thought it would be difficult to get used to the small design and 2013 button placement, but we soon felt as comfortable as ever using the pint-sized handset and just as quickly became au fait with the placement of the standby button on the top of the phone. 

iPhone SE design

What’s more, having been using an iPhone 6 for the past 18 months, we quickly warmed to the compact size, which sits much more comfortably in a skinny jeans pocket and in the hand. Good news for Donald Trump. This meant the iPhone SE quickly, and surprisingly, replaced our iPhone 6 as our go-to device for on-the-go gaming, as we found it much more comfortable to play Threes (yep, still playing it) one-handed than on the 4.7in device.

The iPhone SE is also much lighter than Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6S smartphones at 113g compared with 129g and 143g respectively. 

Opting for Apple’s smaller smartphone doesn’t mean compromising when it comes to display quality, as the iPhone SE’s 4in 630×1136 screen offers the same 326ppi pixel density as the larger 4.7in screen on the iPhone 6S.

This sounds disappointing compared with the likes of the QHD screen on the Samsung Galaxy S7, but the screen on the iPhone SE, just like that on the iPhone 5S before it, is bright, crisp and clear, and it’s unlikely that many will notice the missing pixels. Colours are not as punchy as those offered by the Super AMOLED technology on the Galaxy S7, for example, but we prefer the iPhone’s more natural palette. 

iPhone SE display

We have no complaints when it comes to screen quality, but we did at times get frustrated by how small the 4in screen feels. Reading emails felt cramped on the display, and we often found ourselves hitting the wrong letters when quickly bashing out a text message. We’d have got used to this over time, but it’s a point worth considering for those considering downsizing to an iPhone SE. 

Given that we’ve been using the iPhone 6 until now, we didn’t miss the lack of 3D Touch on the iPhone SE. Some users might, of course, but if we had to choose between a pressure-sensitive screen tech and a price that’s almost £200 cheaper than the iPhone 6S, we’d go for the latter.

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