When Apple reinvented the phone in 2007 they changed not only an industry, but popular culture forever. As consumers, we became fluent in the use of apps, music and telephone calls bonded on the same device and after computer scientists had toiled on touchscreens for decades, Apple went and put a beautiful little one, on a phone. Almost a decade on, Apple have seen their first ever decline in sales for their super-star product but it remains the standard bearer for an industry.
The newest iPhone on the market, is a curious one. The iPhone SE harks back to the 5S and its four inch screen looks odd given how we’ve grown accustomed to the 5 inch or bigger screens we see so much of these days. Getting an iPhone set-up and working is still child’s-play. Power it up, enter your Apple ID credentials or create a new one and you’re ready to go. If you own another iOS device your content, contacts and emails will start to sync up for you or if you’re a first time Apple user, this remains the most intuitive set-up process of any phone-maker.
Small but stylish, the SE it’s available in silver, space-gray, gold and rose-gold and comes in 16GB or 64GB configurations. I don’t carry a huge collection of music on my phone and I always transfer my photos to my laptop so the 16GB version was just about good enough for me. The first physical difference I noticed compared to its older brother was the addition of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. A welcome addition, this can save you a little time every time you pick up your locked phone by recognizing your fingerprint and unlocking your phone instantly.
Despite being smaller than the iPhone 6 models, it’s the guts of this phone that help make it its mark. It uses Apple’s A9 processor and has the same rear 12MP camera as the iPhone 6S. The camera focuses quickly, manages light well and shoots video in 4K. The front camera is the 1.2MP that you’d find on an iPhone 6 and it’s well designed ensuring decent photos. The screen size and definition were market leading a few years ago and it’s surprising Apple didn’t upgrade the screen quality but it’s still sharp and easy to read.
It is a little difficult to get used to the size again. Apple’s bigger screen phones allowed those of is with awkward thumbs to type more easily and it took some time for me to get used to typing on this smaller screen again. Once I got over the scaled down size though, the performance is stunning. This phone works fast and moves seamlessly between apps and loads up complicated emails or 3D games in a snap. In such a small phone, I was concerned about battery life, but as a reasonably frequent phone user I was easily getting a day and a half between charges.
Yes, this phone’s performance is excellent, and the camera is superb but I’m not sure I’d buy an iPhone SE. The screen definition is just not good enough, the minimum memory of 16GB is a little mean, and I’ve gotten used to bigger screens. Upgrading iPhone users would be better served going to an iPhone 6 or 6S with the SE being suitable for those moving to Apple’s ecosystem for the first time. The iPhone helped the entire phone industry evolve but the iPhone SE feels like it’s only treading water.