Has the iPhone SE and its 40,000-ish price tag managed to pique your interest? If the answer is yes, Apple has done its job.
Spurred by the success of the iPhone XR and iPhone 11, Apple is adding one more iPhone to its ‘iPhones that you can afford without being subject to lame kidney jokes’ portfolio. It’s the sequel to 2016’s iPhone SE. It’s still called the iPhone SE, but it’s bigger, and it’s better. And taking into account the four-year gap that it has taken Apple to launch it among other factors including the current pandemic scenario, at a starting price of Rs 42,500, you can say that it’s also cheaper. The original was launched at a base price of Rs 39,000.
By now I am sure, many of you are wondering, what’s the catch? There are quite a few actually but before I list them out for you, there’s an even bigger question to be addressed first. Has the iPhone SE and its 40,000-ish price tag managed to pique your interest? If the answer is yes, Apple has done its job. If not, let me explain to you how the second-generation iPhone SE is a stroke of genius from Apple.
It’s an iPhone
There was a time when Apple peddled cheap plastic in the name of giving buyers an accessible iPhone. The iPhone 5c failed not because it was bad, it failed because it went against everything that Apple ever did, or does, to this day. The original iPhone SE and not the iPhone 5c was the first truly affordable iPhone and for good reason. It had a premium all-metal design and powerful hardware. It was reliable and very solid.
Apple said the whole point of the iPhone SE, in addition to being an iPhone that most people could buy, was that there was still demand for a smaller screen iPhone. Even as the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus (launched the same year) would cater to those looking for more. Over the years, the way we use our phones has changed dramatically. Screens are becoming bigger. Apple’s own iPhone 11 Pro Max stands tall at 6.5-inch. Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra are touching the near 7-inch mark.
But just because there’s a rise in large screen phones, it doesn’t mean people don’t want a smaller phone anymore. A phone that’s easy to pocket, easy to carry around, and easy to operate with one hand. That’s still the dream, for a lot of people out there — including myself. But a 4-inch iPhone SE in 2020, no, that won’t be right. The second-generation iPhone SE, maybe.
The iPhone SE in 2020 has a 4.7-inch display. The body is around 5.5-inch though. That’s both a good thing and bad. It’s good that you can’t really call the iPhone SE tiny — the original iPhone SE was tiny. It’s bad that the iPhone SE has wide chunky bezels, so the actual viewing real estate becomes smaller (4.7-inch). In an alternate universe, I would absolutely have loved Apple to update its iPhone 8-esque design, shaving off bezels, making it, you know, look like a 2020 iPhone. That’s the first catch, and in fact, something to really think about, should you be interested in buying the iPhone SE.
But here’s another way of looking at it. The design of the iPhone SE is classic Apple. It’s a design that Apple knows so well, it could make it, with a blindfold. And here’s the thing about classic Apple, it can never go out of fashion. Naysayers won’t necessarily agree with that, because Android phones have finally come of age, when it comes to looking good but Apple iPhones, have ALWAYS looked good. And the iPhone SE looks very, very good.
The iPhone SE design is a throwback to the iPhone 8 from 2017. It’s made of glass and metal. It has the same straight lines and rounded top and bottom, and yes, there’s also an all-familiar Touch ID ‘physical’ fingerprint scanner, in an all-familiar position below the main display.
It’s a recycle alright, but it’s made of really good recycled parts — and that’s what really counts.
It’s got power to spare
The biggest reason to buy the iPhone SE will be its powerful hardware though. Apple isn’t cutting any corners here. The iPhone SE has the same core innards as the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. An iPhone powered by Apple’s A13 Bionic processor can wipe the floor with any new Android phone out there rocking the latest and greatest Qualcomm/Exynos/Kirin chip — with power to spare. And while we don’t know how much RAM the iPhone SE tags along, there’s no doubt, it will be more than sufficient for literally anything that you can throw at it including high-end gaming.
The A13 Bionic and its eight-core neural engine is what will also bring high-end photography elements to the iPhone SE. Apple is using the same 12MP f/18 main camera with OIS inside the iPhone SE as the iPhone 11 with a few limitations. You can say that the camera on this one will be closer to the iPhone XR in terms of functionality, with the exception that like the iPhone 11, the iPhone SE will have access to Apple’s next-generation Smart HDR. So even though you won’t be able to use as many features, particularly Apple’s impressive Night Mode, the all-round output should be really good. It will support Portrait Mode, using both rear and front (7MP) cameras, though it will only work on human faces — and not, say, your pets. Like the iPhone 11, the iPhone SE will also support six Portrait Lighting effects. Plus, it will be able to record 4K videos @60fps.
Moving on, Apple is also bumping up the storage in the sequel — the iPhone SE will be available in three configurations, 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. Expandable storage is not an option, like all iPhones. Like the iPhone 8, the iPhone SE doesn’t have a headphone jack either. It still charges via Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector. Battery capacity is not known though Apple claims up to 13 hours of video playback on a single charge. The iPhone SE does support 18W fast charging. There’s also wireless charging. The iPhone SE is also IP67-certified for water and dust resistance.
Last but not the least
The iPhone SE is an iPhone with power to spare. But its real USP is Apple’s software. This is an iPhone running Apple’s latest and greatest iOS 13 operating system with a guarantee of upwards of four years of major iOS updates — at least. This is what adds value to an iPhone. An iPhone ages gracefully and that’s the reason why users are able to hold on to them for so long.
The iPhone SE isn’t meant for everybody, and then again, it is. Many will beg to differ, but here’s the thing:
The iPhone SE has a premium all-metal design and powerful hardware. It is reliable and very solid. It’s a classic Apple. And even though there may be better, more premium, more powerful, even cheaper options available in the market today, nothing compares to what Apple is trying to pull off here. In a world that’s changing so quickly, Apple wants you to just sit down, take a minute, reflect on the good old days, and even though all of this will basically be hogwash for a lot of you (especially for Android users) you can always make a list of the pros and cons of potentially buying the iPhone SE. Look closely, and you’ll find the iPhone SE is indeed a stroke of genius from Apple in 2020. Now, let’s just wait for some discounts and cashbacks to kick in!