iPhone SE Review

by birtanpublished on March 29, 2021

We have literally been asking this thing ever since the original iPhone se launched in 2016 we were like when is Apple gonna follow this up is it gonna be an annual thing is it gonna be every other year we had no idea until 2020 when we finally got it and I think now that we have two points of data from the SE lineup we can now deduct what Apple means by special edition specifically let's begin what Apple meant when doing an SE is that they wanted to recycle older iPhone designs and update them up with more modern specifications and flagship smartphone features which is why the SE is such a special little

Phone because it gives us on such a perspective of what internal changes really mean you know later I'll compare this thing to an iPhone 6 which originally launched in 2014 and design-wise not a whole lot has changed from the outside ever since the iPhone 6 launched moving towards this phone there are things like the glass on the back and wireless charging and the camera moves a little bit and the home button turned the solid-state though after all this time now that it's rocking the a13 chip it's able to not just perform well and Geekbench test which people who buy

This phone probably don't care about that but it enables a phone with hardware that is honestly very close to the iPhone 8 I mean it's the same cameras same glass back they changed the design a little bit with the colors and the finishes but at the end of the day it's mostly recycling that old iPhone 8 assembly line and they were able to add things that the iPhone 6 was not even close to being able to handle so portrait mode on the front and back which honestly behaves a little bit differently than it does in the past see this was not something I was expecting

That when that came to the SE because I knew that it was possible they had the a13 chip they could add portrait mode on a rear facing camera even though there's only one just like the iPhone 10 are just using depth data and machine learning they would be able to make some portrait mode shots and a lot of people were fairly impressed with the iPhone 10 our portrait mode camera but what I was definitely not expecting was portrait mode to come to the front because as far as we could tell in the past true depth camera systems were required in order for portrait mode to work on the front

Facing camera works on the iPad pro because it has true depth camera system same with the iPhone tenth and our and of course all of the iPhone eleven lineup so when they announced a portrait mode was now an option on a single camera setup I was like whoa hold on a second you're just saying that a thirteen chip can handle that now I'm sure there's some marketing going on there could they add portrait mode to older iPhones with a 11 chip and just one front-facing camera no true depth camera system probably could but probably wouldn't be able to render it

In real time which Apple did not want to compromise on on the iPhone se which by the way a lot of Android phones with decent portrait modes still can't handle that real time rendering for those portrait mode effects so you can actually get a preview of what portrait mode looks like before you take the photo and that of course behaves much more like a real camera and I'm glad they prioritize that however there is a bit of compromising and performance if we compare portrait mode to how it is on the se versus how it is on iPhones with a true depth camera system it seems

Actually more pixel like in the sense that portrait mode now basically decides either the background is blurred or the subject is in focus and there's no in-between it's actually a lot less natural as you notice by some of these photos that things that are really close to my face or around where my head should be are still blurred because they're just dictated to not be the person so it should just blur that out right but when taking a photo with the true depth camera system it does a pretty good job at measuring hey this object is not the subject but it's in

The same realm of focus that the subject should be and in that way it's able to recreate a DSLR like photo a lot more naturally but the point is people buying the iPhone se people who are probably upgrading from a 7 6 s6 or the last se or even sooner they've probably never even had portrait mode before let alone on the front of their phone if they're buying this thing they probably don't mind that traditional design so if they're getting portrait mode for the first time and it'll care if it doesn't perform exactly the same way as the true death camera system and of course it's

All subjective these are all very tiny details I'm sure most of the people buying this thing would not even notice that when comparing portrait mode shots to someone who has a true depth camera system they just think blurry background makes it look cinematic and that is good so it's an interesting move that the first iPhone of 2020 is such a dated design but at the same time it showcases that Apple is not afraid to release phones that look kind dated as long as they have an audience that appreciates them a lot of people would consider the iPhone se lazy

Because it doesn't have you know face ID or it doesn't have a bezel S design like other androids out there but all of those little design changes whether it be new display new form factor new features touch ID and the home button on the back or whatever you want to think of all of that would require new assembly lines and new manufacturing methods because Apple produces a crap ton of iPhones and that's how they're able to make a phone with a faster CPU in GPU than any Android competitor whether you're spending $400 on an Android or $2,000 on an Android their

CPU is not gonna be fast as this $400 iPhone that's because the bulk of the spending that goes into developing the a13 chip is not spent on manufacturing it's moreso spent on the research and development the architecture of the CPU once that spending is done and you're just pumping out the chips it's not really that expensive so they're able to bring that to an older design and recycle those assembly lines for the iPhone 8 and boom you got a nifty kind of science experiment now of like what would happen if we took the most powerful CPU we make and put it into a

Much more traditional design and the end result is you get a lot of flagship features for a lot lower price tag but for me personally I really care about those flagship features and using the iPhone se as my daily for a full week was kind of challenging I did not realize how many times I appreciated using an ultra wide or a telephoto lens and not having it did feel quite limiting but the display is something I feel like you can get used to on any smartphone at first it's like wow these bezels are huge but after a while it just becomes your phone and you don't

Even really notice or think about the bezels but what I did think about is the size because this is very compact which I'm not used to and there's definitely a lot of people out there though that are going to miss this form factor and a lot of people wanted the second generation se to look exactly like the original or just have that same footprint at least in a more bezel S design but se lineup is now proven that it's not about being the four inch model and it's not even about being the 4.7 inch model it's just about being efficient with the designs they already have but updating them with

Modern specs and the battery life is ok it got me through the day but it was absolutely not great and there were a couple of times I almost died on it but screen on time definitely expect that to be much lower than things you can get on things like the 10 R or the 11 or higher but again as Apple has marketed this thing on their website it's absolutely meant for people that don't like upgrading their phone that often and that's why it's perfect for them because there's not many androids today if any at all that can say that they're probably going to be getting software

Updates and new features added to their phone five years from now whereas people spending four hundred bucks on this thing they can say that plus what you factor in trade-in values of people trading in their sevens or their sixes it's basically the perfect iPhone for people who don't like upgrading their iPhone that much so that's why it's kind of a sleeper success you know it's not going to sell like crazy on launch day because the people that the SE is meant for are people that probably don't know that much about it in the first place but it's going to be very nice for Apple

To be able to showcase that hey the iPhone lineup starts at 400 bucks and you can still get something with decent cameras and by the way still shoot amazing video 4k at 60 on the back with great microphone quality however the front-facing camera is where there was not much changed because despite having the a13 chip this is still limited to 1080 at 30fps you cannot record anything on the front-facing camera at 60 this is the very best the SE can do and there's no slow feature which feels very dated for me but I guess it's the same front-facing camera we had on the iPhone

10 because that was also 7 megapixels and no 60 FPS supports it's just I've grown accustomed to the iPhone 11s which can shoot 4k at 60 on the front which is a huge difference but either way if people are using iPhones as video cameras I mean will you be able to find another $400 camera out there that can do 4k at 60 video and have audio that sounds as good as this does probably not plus it's airdrop compatible and you're getting 64 gigs built in and for an extra 50 bucks you can double that to 128 it's just a whole lot of practical that's really what the se is it's just

No bells no whistles focusing on what matters and I can absolutely think of a bunch of people in my personal life that the SE is going to be perfect for but I'm not gonna recommend it to him right now I'm just gonna tell him hey if your iPhone 6 or 7 or whatever starts slowing down and you need an upgrade this is your go-to all right this is what you need to move towards as soon as you're ready because it's not something I feel like a lot of people are going to appreciate if they just run out and buy on day one maybe

Unless you're just frustrated with your current phone but very graciously mint Mobile who is not a sponsor by the way they literally just did this out of the kindness of their hearts they sent us an iPhone SC probably because they were just so sick of hearing that my wife was still using an iPhone 6 in 2020 so no contract or anything they didn't even ask me to bring this up I'm just bringing it up because I like them they sent us an se that my wife is now using and she likes it but I will mention she's been using it for the past couple days and hasn't really noticed that she

Has a new phone she just got rid of some of the inconveniences of the six you know capped out at iOS 12 in the terrible battery life now she's just using her phone the same way she did before but not running into those inconveniences of hate your storage is full or hey you got a charger battery again or hey there's no dark mode and I check in with her now and again I'm like hey are you enjoying the se and she's kind of like I kind of forget it's there and I think that's gonna summarize what a lot of people think when they get an iPhone se they're just gonna be like oh

Yeah I got a new phone that's right it just feels like they got rid of all of the annoying parts of my old phone for people who aren't interested in learning you know gestures or face ID they don't want to break the bank they just want the inconveniences of having their old phone to go away for the lowest possible price tag hence why iPhone se makes a whole lot of sense for a whole lot of people absolutely not for me but there's a huge demographic of people that over the course of the next three years are absolutely going to upgrade appreciate

It and then not even think about it and they're just gonna keep using the phone the exact same way but what do you guys think of the iPhone se feel free to hit me up over on Twitter join my discord and we can chat more about this tiny little phone that makes a big difference for a lot of people this is your album shape here I'll see you guys in the next one

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