- 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."