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Apple iPhone SE review

8.2/10 AVG.
RATING



8.2/10
Informr score
The Apple iPhone SE currently has an Informr score of 8.2 out of 10. This score is based on our evaluation of 47 sources including reviews from users and the web's most trusted critics.

What's good

  • Slick and smooth performance
  • Generally sharp and color accurate screen
  • Easy to use one-handed
  • Detailed and vibrant pictures
  • Good battery life

What's bad

  • Can be uncomfortable to hold
  • Screen is very cramped
  • Difficult to use keyboard
  • Poor forward facing camera

Despite the growing size of smartphones, Apple released the SE, the only current phone with a screen smaller than 4.7 inches. On first glance, many reviewers mistook it for the iPhone 5S, and that's because it sports a very similar chassis as its predecessor. Still, while it might sport the same sharp edges, they did notice some significant differences such as the matte edges to replace the chamfered ones. While a small difference, critics note that it made the device less prone to scuffs and easier to grip. Still, many still found the hard edges uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time.

The screen itself is a mere 4 inches and has a resolution of 1134 x 750 pixels. Although not the sharpest in the lineup, it is still high enough to be considered retina. While it offers up decent colors and vibrancy, when compared to the newer generation of iPhones experts noticed the blacks were fairly weak. And, due to its small size, they also found everything felt too cramped from websites to apps. More often than not they could not view everything on a site without having to scroll and buttons were notoriously small and difficult to tap. Still, they did appreciate the fact that they could easily use it with one hand and slip it into their pockets with no problem. Interestingly, while the iPhone SE does lack the 3D touch of the iPhone 6s Plus, many did not really miss its features.

While the SE might seem like a throwback to the 5S, its internal specs are flagship quality. Apple managed to squeeze in its latest A9 processor inside the tiny body, giving reviewers a remarkably slick and lag-free experience. It performed well regardless of what they threw at it from processor hungry games like Warmhammer 40,000 to 4K editing on iMovie. While the processor certainly makes the phone run smoothly, the 2GB of RAM is really what makes the SE speedy. In fact, in a comparison test critics found it was three times faster than the 5S. The only slow thing they found was the fingerprint sensor, which is actually the original Touch ID from the 5S/6 not the newest one. Despite the upgrades to the processor and RAM, reviewers were surprised at the battery life. Although small, they were able to eke out around a full day's of use on a single charge.

The rear camera comes with the same 12MP sensor as found on the iPhone 6s. Unsurprisingly, reviewers were able to capture crystal clear pictures with amazing clarity, color reproduction and super-fast focus. Like the 6S, it can capture Live Photos and even record 4K video. Sadly, the front facing 1.2MP camera disappointed pretty much all reviewers. While they consider it "decent" they note it struggled in low-light conditions and was a letdown especially when compared to the one fitted on the 6S.

Overall, the only issue reviewers had with the SE was its small size. The screen was cramped and they found typing on the keyboard "weird." Despite this, they recommend it for those who want a smaller and affordable iPhone. Tech Radar states, "We've enjoyed our time with the SE but have missed the bigger display found on Apple's flagship range…However, the SE now makes owning an iPhone much more affordable and that's why millions of Apple fans are going to love it."


Operating system
iOS
Processor
1.84 GHz
Screen Size
4"
Camera
12+ MP


What the Critics Are Saying...


TechRadar

Apple's really dialled back the screen and design to hit the price point - but it's still a brilliant phone for the subset of people that still crave a small phone.

- Gareth Beavis, TechRadar
Cnet

If you don't want a small screen, don't go here. If you live your life on your phone screen and need a large canvas, don't go here. If you're on a budget and want an iPhone, go for it. It's still great. Just note those alternatives listed above, especially if you're OK with living on Android.

- Scott Stein, Cnet
Know Your Mobile

If you’re good with how much the iPhone SE costs, arguably its only unappealing trait, then you’re looking at a very attractive handset that is, for the time being, completely unparalleled in the mobile space. This is the best 4in smartphone on the planet now — bar none — hen...

- Know Your Mobile team, Know Your Mobile
AndroidPIT

The iPhone SE has impressed me to the point that I would recommend you consider buying it. One of my reservations would be that you could buy two good Android devices for the same price and that you can might quickly find out how costly Apple ecosystem can be. In my opinion, you should definite...

- Eric Herrmann, AndroidPIT
Brighthand

Our editors were initially quite skeptical heading into this Apple iPhone SE review. Sure, there are people who want a low-cost iPhone with many of the latest features in a smaller package. However, the low-res display and tired exterior design seems to run counter the position that Apple iPhones ty...

- Brighthand Staff, Brighthand


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Quick view

Screen Size
4"

The Apple iPhone SE's screen size is 4 inches with 640 x 1136 pixels resolution.

Processor
1.84 GHz

There is a Apple A9 Dual core 1.84 GHz processor (CPU).

OS

The phone runs on the iOS 9 (Update Available: 12) operating system (OS).

Camera
12+ MP

You can take photos with the phone's onboard 12+ megapixel camera.

There is also a secondary front facing camera with 1+ megapixels resolution.

Storage
16/32/64/128 GB

Internal memory is 16/32/64/128 GB. No external card slot is available for expansion.

Battery
1624mAh

The phone is powered by a Lithium Polymer (Li-Pol), 1624 mAh battery. Apple's performance ratings are 840 minutes, 780 minutes Wi-Fi surfing.

iPhone SE Specs

Overview
Release date March 31, 2016
Regions available USA, Canada, United Kingdom
Mobile / Cellular Data
4G/LTE
variations
Networks
GSM:
850/900/1800/1900 MHz
CDMA:
800/1700/1900 MHz
UMTS:
850/900/1700/1900 /2100 MHz
LTE:
1700/1900/700/2100 /800/850/900/1800 MHz
Data:
GPRS, EDGE, EV-DO Rev. A, HSUPA, HSPA+, LTE
variations
SIM card size
Nano-SIM
variations
Dual SIM No
Operating System iOS 9 (Update Available: 12)

Compare iOS Smartphones

Processor Apple A9 Dual core 1.84 GHz
Internal Storage 16/32/64/128 GB
RAM 2 GB
ROM No
GPS Type A-GPS
Hearing Aid Compatible Yes
TTY/TDD Yes
Noise Cancellation Yes
SAR Head: 1.17 W/kg
Body: 1.19 W/kg
Languages No
Manufacturer Warranty 1 Year
Accessories Included USB Power Adapter, Manual, Headset, Data Cable
Power & battery
Battery Type Lithium Polymer (Li-Pol)
Battery Capacity 1624 mAh
Removable Battery No
Wireless Charging No
Fast Charging No
Video Playback Time Up to: 780 minutes
Internet Use (Wi-Fi) Up to: 780 minutes
Internet Use (Celluar) Up to: 780 minutes
Talk Time Up to: 840 minutes
Standby Time Up to: 10 days
Physical Characteristics
Design type Bar
Multi-Use Smart Phone / PDA Yes
Material Aluminium
Colors Silver, Gold, Space Gray, Rose Gold
Dimensions [H x W x D] 12.4 x 5.9 x 0.8 cm (4.9 x 2.3 x 0.3 in)
Weight 113 grams
Water Resistant / Waterproof Unknown
Rugged design No
IP Rating No
Display / Screen
Type Color
Technology LCD (IPS)
Colors 16.7 million
Resolution 640 x 1136 pixels
Pixel density 326 pixels
Size 4 inches
Secondary Display No
Sensors Ambient Light, Proximity, Motion / Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Digital Compass
Graphics Yes
Themes No
Backlit Illumination Yes
Zoom / Magnification Yes
Screen Orientation Lock Yes
Multi-Touch Yes
Fingerprint-Resistant Coating Yes
Additional Display Features Capacitive touch screen
Input / Navigation
Sleep / Wake Key Yes
Home Key Yes
Mute Key No
Input Type Touchscreen
Navigation Type Touchscreen
Predictive Text Entry Yes
Physical keyboard No
Voicemail Key No
Any Key Answer No
Voice Commands Yes
Keypad/Screen Lock Yes
External Volume Control Yes
External Media Playback Controls No
Fingerprint Sensor Yes
Call Management
Wi-Fi Calling Yes
Voice over LTE (VoLTE) Yes
Contact List Capacity Depends on system memory
Multiple Numbers Per Contact Email address, Other fields
Contact Groups Yes
Auto Answer No
Voice Activated Dialing Yes
Photo Caller ID Yes
Web / Email / Messaging
Web Browser Yes
Email Client Yes
Email Protocols POP3, IMAP, SMTP, Microsoft Exchange
Additional Email Features Gmail
Messaging SMS, MMS, IM
Push-to-talk (PTT) No
Connectivity
USB Lightning
USB OTG Support No
Infrared No
Bluetooth 4.2
Bluetooth Profiles A2DP, AVRCP, OPP/FTP, HFP, HSP
Bluetooth Audio Codecs SBC
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
WiFi Encryption No
Mobile Hotspot Yes
WiMAX No
Memory Expansion Slot No
PC Synchronization Yes
TV Out No
DLNA Support No
NFC Yes
Data Tethering Compatibility Yes
Java Applications No
Brew Applications No
ECML / Digital Wallet No
Camera
Main Camera
Aperture
Unknown
Resolution
12+ megapixels
Multi-camera
No
Zoom
Yes
Flash
Yes (LED)
Additional Rear Camera Info
Auto focus, Face detection, Geotagging, Image stabilization, Multi-shot, Panorama, Self-timer, HDR, Exposure control
Video Recording Formats
3GP / 3GPP, H.264 / AVC, MPEG-4, AVI
Video Recording Parameters
Ultra HD (3840 x 2160 pixels), 30 fps
Front Camera
Resolution
1+ megapixels
Zoom
No
Additional Front Camera Info
Face detection, Multi-shot, Self-timer, Exposure control, HDR
Video Recording Parameters
HD (1280 x 720 pixels)
Audio / Video
Audio Playback Yes
Audio Formats AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, eAAC, MP3, WAV
Radio No
Video Playback Yes
Video Playback Formats 3GP / 3GPP, AVI, H.264 / AVC, MPEG-4
Streaming Video Yes
External Speakers Yes
Headset Jack 3.5mm
Custom Ringtones Yes
Vibration Alert Yes
Downloadable Ringtones Yes
Ringer ID Yes
Haptic Feedback Vibration Yes
Speakerphone Yes
Apps
To-Do / Task List Yes
Calendar Yes
World Clock Yes
Alarm Yes
Stop Watch Yes
Timer Yes
Calculator Yes
Currency Converter No
Document Viewer Yes
Viewable document types XLS, RTF, PPT, PPTX, JPG, TIFF, GIF, DOC, DOCX, PDF, TXT, HTML
Weather Yes
Stocks Yes
Maps Yes
NotePad Yes
Voice Memos / Recorder Yes
Games Downloadable
Apps Downloadable
Included Software / Apps -
More
Additional comments Apple iPhone SE Manual (HTML)
Related Links Apple iPhone SE Reviews
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