Apple has always been about quality, not quantity. The iPhone has never marketed itself as a cheap-to-own phone because it was never intended to be a cheap-to-own phone. As a piece of technology, the iPhone has driven change and innovation in the world of smartphones for more than a decade. Before the iPhone was invented, there were many different ideas about what a smartphone ‘should’ look like. Now, there’s only one – and it’s iPhone shaped. Similarly, every provider used to create their own operating software. Now, there’s only iOS and Android. Market-leading and boundary-pushing technology doesn’t come cheaply, and that’s why the iPhone never has either.
That whole school of philosophy we’ve just described has apparently come to an end at Apple’s head office, because the iPhone SE is a budget phone – and it’s one that, if the reviews are to be believed – is going to change the game for mid-range phones right across the market. The phones and phone manufacturers who have carved a niche by offering iPhone-like functionality and features for a decidedly non-iPhone price have been served notice; Apple are coming for you, and they’re likely to dominate the mid-range tier just as much as they’ve dominated the top tier. The iPhone SE might not look like much, but it means business. Big business.
The first thing most reviewers have noticed about the new iPhone SE is that it looks a lot like the 2014 incarnation of the iPhone 6. We’ve even seen some reviewers take photos of both devices side by side, and we must admit that they look virtually identical even to our eyes. Don’t let that fool you, though. Even if the casing is from 2014, the technology that’s underneath it is anything put. From a performance point of view, the SE makes the iPhone 6 look like a child’s toy – and that’s not a statement that we make lightly. The iPhone 6 was looked at as a fantastic piece of kit when it was brand new, but times have changed, and so have Apple. When you look underneath the hood, this handset has far more in common with the iPhone 11 than the iPhone 6.
The two most important aspects of any phone – whether manufactured by Apple or anybody else – are the processor and the software. In both cases, there’s no difference between the SE and the 11. This is the same core processor, the same operating software, and the same set of pre-installed apps. It’s just that the SE is over three hundred dollars cheaper to buy than the 11. There are of course reasons why you might want to purchase the 11 instead, and most of those reasons are self-evident, but if you’re just looking for a phone that you’ll be using for pleasure as opposed to work, you’ll probably find that the SE does everything you could possibly want it to do.
One of the areas it does fall down a little is screen size. The screen of the SE is only 4.7 inches, which by modern standards is minuscule. To make matters worse, it looks and feels a little dated and cumbersome because of the old-fashioned bezels and the home button. If the phone was only 5 inches tall and most of it was the screen, you could sell it as a sleek, stripped-back piece of modern kit. The top and bottom brackets instead make it look and feel like something from a bygone age of smartphones. You might have a high-performance phone in your hand, but your friends and colleagues might look at it and wonder why you haven’t upgraded your device at any time in the past five years.
With the price point being so much lower than its bigger brother, there are inevitably other cutbacks that have been made elsewhere on the phone, and here they are. You won’t get Face ID with the SE – although given some of the problems Apple has had with the introduction of Face ID, you might consider that to be a blessing. There isn’t a headphone socket, so you can’t charge your phone and use the headphones at the same time. Perhaps most crucially of all for the here and now, the phone isn’t 5G ready. You won’t notice that right now because the majority of the world isn’t using 5G. You may, however, notice it a lot in about a year’s time.
All in all, the phone is being reviewed and appraised as what it is – a cut-price Apple phone with most of the standard iPhone features, not a brand-new, top of the range iPhone. If you want top performance, you still have to pay top dollar. If you can’t afford to do that, this phone is an excellent compromise option. It’s also a welcome distraction for Apple, who’ve recently made headlines because of the iMessage hacking scandal. How serious the security flaw that led to the scandal was is unknown – some media sources play it up while Apple tries to play it down – but it still caused a series of unwanted headlines for the company. We should remember, though, that hackers approach their business like slots game players. Nobody who’s ever logged on to a new slots site UK expects success every time they spin the reels. Their success – and therefore, their money – comes through persistence, and repeating the same process until it works. That’s exactly how an online slots game works – the same way that hackers work – and it’s no less random. Hackers will always try to break into secure systems, and occasionally a large company will fall victim to them. There’s no evidence that Apple is any less safe than any other large mobile phone manufacturer or tech firm.
If your current iPhone is beginning to look tired, but you don’t want to commit to the cost of a new iPhone 11, the SE might be the best choice for you right now. If money is no object to you, though, and you want a backup phone just in case anything happens to your usual device, you could do a lot worse than having an SE in your drawer in case of emergencies. For a mere $400-$500, it allows you that flexibility.