Wikimedia User Zach Vega
Ever since the launch of the iPhone 6, many unsatisfied Apple customers have been asking for a phone that isn’t the size of a small bus. After a year, Apple answered by releasing the iPhone SE in late March. The iPhone SE sports a 4-inch aluminum chassis similar to that of the iPhone 5s, but packs the new A9 processor and functionality of the iPhone 6s.
While the new processor will account for most noticeable changes in user experience between the iPhone 5s and SE, these improvements should be considered marginal at best, as many applications that users will install are not too resource-intensive.
The iPhone SE comes with Apple’s latest system-on-chip, the A9, which is a massive jump from its predecessor found in the iPhone 6. The new chip boasts a 70 percent increase in CPU processing speed and a 90 percent increase in GPU processing speed, allowing users to run more apps, have a better browsing experience and generally use the phone with greater ease.
Additionally, the SE inherits most of its other hardware from the 6s. Aside from the obvious differences in screen and case size, the only distinguishing features of the SE are its battery, front-facing camera, wireless antenna and lack of a 128 GB storage option and barometer.
These departures from the iPhone 6s will arguably have little impact in most use cases. Even with a downsized battery, the SE can match the battery life of the 6s thanks to its smaller display; the front-facing camera is simply similar to that of the 5s; the antenna is only sacrificing support for a wireless standard that is not available in most places; the largest storage option of 64 GB should be plenty with a reasonable backup schedule; and a barometer will be useful for just a few niche applications.
But the internal hardware of the iPhone SE is impressive when considering Apple’s pricing scheme ― the SE starts at an MSRP of $399, while the 6 starts at $150 more and the 6s at $250 more. Even for customers who are open to using phones with larger displays, the SE represents the best overall value among Apple’s current offerings.
For people who are looking to upgrade from one of Apple’s previous 4-inch devices and are fond of the compact screen, the iPhone SE may be a worthwhile option, especially if budget is a concern. However, they should not expect the practical differences between the SE and the 5s to be huge.
For those who are looking for more innovative options, it may be wiser to wait until the fall, when Apple is expected to launch the iPhone 7.