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Apple iPhone SE review: Small but not weak

Apple iPhone SE launches in India on April 8 at a price of Rs 39,000. Here's our review for this 4-inch iPhone.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Written by Nandagopal Rajan | Updated: April 9, 2016 10:43:59 am
Apple, Apple iPhone SE, iPhone SE review, Apple iPhone SE Review, Full review of new iPhone, iPhone SE india, iPhone SE price, iPhone SE vs iPhone 6 Apple iPhone SE goes on sale on April 8 in India at a price of Rs 39,000. Here’s our review of the new 4-inch iPhone.

Apple iPhone SE was supposed to be the big price play from Apple. But Apple held on to its price, at least in markets like India, with this new small phone. The iPhone SE is still a phone with a unique selling proposition, thanks to its now-rare form factor. Can the 4-inch frame be the one thing that endears this new phone to the world?

Apple iPhone SE

Watch our video review of iPhone SE:

The SE in iPhone SE is supposed to stand for special edition. That it is in more ways than one — it brings back to vogue the 4-inch screen, which we all thought we had moved on from and it puts into this tiny frame with specs similar to a top-end device, another rarity these days. Despite all that this, iPhone SE is still a phone that looks a bit like another that was sold a couple of years back. iPhone 5S, at least it looks, sure gets a new lease of life with the SE.

Apple, Apple iPhone SE, iPhone SE review, Apple iPhone SE Review, Full review of new iPhone, iPhone SE india, iPhone SE price, iPhone SE vs iPhone 6 The SE in iPhone SE is supposed to stand for special edition.

Specs:  4‑inch display with 1136×640 pixel resolution at 326 ppi | A9 chip with 64‑bit architecture | 16 or 64GB storage space | 12‑megapixel iSight camera with 1.22µ pixels | 1.2‑megapixel FaceTime camera | Touch ID | iOS 9.3 |

Price: Rs 39,000

Apple, Apple iPhone SE, iPhone SE review, Apple iPhone SE Review, Full review of new iPhone, iPhone SE india, iPhone SE price, iPhone SE vs iPhone 6 The 4-inch frame of the iPhone SE will endear this phone to lots of people with small hands and tiny fingers.

What is good?

The best feature of this phone has to be its size. There are lot of people who struggle with large phones, and find no viable alternative given that smaller phones are now becoming really rare. The 4-inch frame of the iPhone SE will endear this phone to lots of people with small hands and tiny fingers. This is for people who want something handy, and I am sure there are quite a few of this target audience around the world.

But does small mean weak? No. And that is the beauty of the iPhone SE. It is in no way an underwhelming smartphone. Moving from an iPhone 6s Plus to this smaller phone, I was in no way struggling for power. Given that this was a brand new phone, there were times when phone actually felt faster and smoother than the six-month-old 6s Plus. The phone works well in all conditions.

Apple, Apple iPhone SE, iPhone SE review, Apple iPhone SE Review, Full review of new iPhone, iPhone SE india, iPhone SE price, iPhone SE vs iPhone 6 Sample shots from the iPhone SE. (Image resized for web) Apple, Apple iPhone SE, iPhone SE review, Apple iPhone SE Review, Full review of new iPhone, iPhone SE india, iPhone SE price, iPhone SE vs iPhone 6 Sample shots from the iPhone SE. (Image resized for web) Apple, Apple iPhone SE, iPhone SE review, Apple iPhone SE Review, Full review of new iPhone, iPhone SE india, iPhone SE price, iPhone SE vs iPhone 6 Sample shots from the iPhone SE. (Image resized for web) Apple, Apple iPhone SE, iPhone SE review, Apple iPhone SE Review, Full review of new iPhone, iPhone SE india, iPhone SE price, iPhone SE vs iPhone 6 Sample shots from the iPhone SE. (Image resized for web)

The phone has a pretty neat camera. If you compare to the iPhone 6s series, the SE might not be that good with low-light. But it is still a very good camera that gives you crisp, sharp and very iPhone-like photos. Plus, this phone come with Live photo option too, though there is no 3D Touch. The phone does everything that the 6s does right from 4K video to timelapse, and does it well.

The iPhone offer pretty decent battery life. It is by no means great, but will last you about 12 hours on Delhi’s patchy networks with LTE. With the battery saver mode, there could be a couple more hours you could add to the day.

 Apple, Apple iPhone SE, iPhone SE review, Apple iPhone SE Review, Full review of new iPhone, iPhone SE india, iPhone SE price, iPhone SE vs iPhone 6 The design of the iPhone SE is similar to the iPhone 5S.

What is not that good?

Strangely, the biggest issue with the phone is also its biggest strength: the size. The 4-inch screen is a tough cookie for anyone who has been exposed to a larger screen. Switching from the iPhone 6s Plus, initially I struggled to even add my passwords. In a couple of days I was more comfortable, but still aching for more screen space. This is ideally for those buying their first real smartphone or for those upgrading from an iPhone 4s, 5, 5s, etc.

 Apple, Apple iPhone SE, iPhone SE review, Apple iPhone SE Review, Full review of new iPhone, iPhone SE india, iPhone SE price, iPhone SE vs iPhone 6 Side-by-side: iPhone 6s in rose gold and iPhone SE in the same colour.

Unlike the iPhone 6s series, the SE does heat up a bit when the 4k video is recording. The warming up starts after around two minutes.

I got the feeling at times that the fingerprint scanner was a micro-second slower than the one on the 6s Plus. This could be because Apple is using a slightly different hardware for the Touch ID on the new phone.

 Apple, Apple iPhone SE, iPhone SE review, Apple iPhone SE Review, Full review of new iPhone, iPhone SE india, iPhone SE price, iPhone SE vs iPhone 6 iPhone SE on top and an iPhone 6s on the bottom.

Should you buy?

Yes, if you are looking for a phone that fits in your hands and it handy at all times. The phone is in no way underwhelming, despite its smaller size and that is the best bit about the SE. It would have been great if Apple had kept the pricing a bit more aggressive on this phone, making it compellingly better than the iPhone 6 in a market like India. Now, if you are looking for the best priced iPhone, the SE is not really there with the iPhone 6 available for a bit cheaper online.

Now, your need to buy has a smaller phone has to be strong enough for you to pay premium.

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