iPhone SE Review; a classic design with plenty of power



Throw it back too a few years ago and the iPhone 5s was the hottest device on the market. It had a phenomenal design, one that would be a classic, in fact it was one of the first iPhone’s to switch to from a glass back to an aluminum build. Then iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s came out and introduced a new design with a larger screen. But since the launch of larger screened devices, some consumers still want a smaller screen. Apple has the answer, the iPhone SE which brings back a classic design but packs it with the latest technology.

For starters, the iPhone SE very easily fits and can be used with one hand. It weighs  just 113 grams and is only 7.6 millimeters thick, a very light device to say the least. Bringing back a beloved design was a great idea on the part of Apple, it is something that refreshes and improves on the classic design. The iPhone SE looks phenomenal.


Even better, the iPhone SE now comes in Rose Gold as well as Gold, Silver, or Space Gray. Along with the new color options, iPhone SE now has matte chamfered edges going around the device and it adds shine to the device, along with giving it a more high-end look. The back of the device features an SE logo on the bottom and a color-matched stainless steel Apple logo that is inset into the device.

The bottom of the device is home to a headphone jack, a lightening connector, a microphone, and a set of speakers. Your volume rocker and silent switch are on the left side, while the right side has a SIM card slot. The power or lock button is back on the top of the device as well. You will find a first generation Touch ID button below the screen on the front, while above you have an ear piece, a sensor, and a front facing camera. Along with having a sweet Apple Logo on the back, you will find the main camera.


Since the iPhone SE is a smaller device, it has a smaller display which will hit home with some consumers. You get a 4-inch Retina Display which has a resolution of 1136 X 640 and 326 pixels-per-inch. It is a very sharp display and is comparable to the Retina displays on the latest flagship iPhones. Colors are presented accurately and with vibrancy, while darks appear black with a solid contrast ratio.

Powering the 4-inch iPhone SE is the powerful 64-bit A9 chip, which is the same third-generation chip found in the iPhone 6s. In comparison to the iPhone 5s, it has a 2x faster CPU and a 3x faster GPU, which makes for great performance. The device is 100% on par with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, but at times it can be even faster. As the processing unit doesn’t need to power a larger display. It can handle gaming well and boot up time is very fast. With daily performance you can expect a smooth experience which should be able to handle almost anything you throw at it.

Since the device is powered by the 64-bit A9 chip, you now get Hey Siri on the device, which will let you talk to Siri. My experience with Hey Siri on the iPhone SE went well, after doing the setup and training with your voice, it makes it very easy to get quick information. Along with this new voice activated feature, the M9 processor is on board. It is a motion processor, which works hand-in-hand with the A9 chip, but it also has fitness tracking capabilities. As an example this processor allows your iPhone to track how many staircases have been climbed.


While Apple didn’t include the latest generation of Touch ID on the iPhone SE, the addition of the A9 and M9 chips, help to speed it up. Touch ID has more uses than just for unlocking your device now, as this device has Apple Pay on board. As of right now this mobile payment service is available in the United States, as well as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and China. You can use the Wallet application on the iPhone SE, to sync your credit or debit cards with your device. From there you can just tap to pay with your device, Wallet can also be used for boarding passes, train tickets, concert tickets, loyalty cards, and many others.

The back of the device features what I think is the best camera setup on the market. It was first introduced with the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, it still performs great and is found on the iPhone SE. The device has a 12-megapixel iSight camera with a True Tone Flash. It has auto focus with focus pixels along with the ability to capture Live Photos. The latter of these two features was first introduced with the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, it allows a photo to truly capture a memory. As it is also records a small video and audio from when you took the photo. The iSight camera can also take HDR photos, has a Burst and Timer mode, along with the ability to take panoramas. You can also record 4K video at 30 frames per second with a resolution of 3840 X 2160. Slow motion videos can be captured at either 1080p at 120 fps or 720p at 240 fps.

On the front of the iPhone SE you will find a FaceTime HD Camera. It can capture 1.2 megapixel photos and can handle video at 720p HD recording. For Selfies you have face detection and a Retina Flash built-in. While this is not as sharp as the front camera on the iPhone 6s or some other devices, it still performs well. I tried it out with several FaceTime calls and took several front facing Snapchats with it. The results were great and the connection during the FaceTime calls was very smooth.


The best thing about iPhones, in general, is that they run iOS. And the simple answer to this is that there are no pre-loaded applications or bloatware installed on the device. iOS 9 is a solid operating system with a gorgeous and simple user interface. It starts with a simple lock screen, that can be unlocked with your fingerprint, but once you enter the phone itself, you are presented with a simple layout for applications. To organize applications, you can even make folders and many of them work together pretty well. iOS features extensions, which allows you to pair applications together and allow for an Apple application like Photos, to have new capabilities through third-party applications.

You have plenty of applications to choose from, as there are over half a million in the App Store. There is an application for almost anything, really this is a true statement. In terms of pre-installed applications many of them come in really handy. Apple Maps is great as it allows you to get directions through transit systems, like the NYC Subway system. You get FaceTime built-in which allows for free video and audio callers to other iOS and OS X devices. Music allows you to store your music and to expand with plenty of other songs with Apple Music.

Apple offers the iPhone SE in both a 16GB and 64GB size. While you can use iCloud Drive and Photos to keep some of your storage in the cloud, I would say it is always a good idea to go with a larger storage option. And at $100 more for the unlocked variant, it is well worth the extra money.

Lastly, in terms of battery life the iPhone SE performs really well. Apple has said that you can get up to 13 hours of internet use on LTE or WiFi, but up to 10 days of standby time. With my testing, I found that the iPhone SE has the best battery life of any iPhone. I am incredibly pleased with the battery life on the iPhone SE, it lasts a whole day with no issue and can even last more than one day. Put simply, battery life is incredible.


The iPhone SE is an awesome device and will make a lot of people happy. Whether you have been waiting for a smaller screen iPhone that can pack a punch or if you are looking for a first time smartphone, this device can fit many needs. Apple knows the iPhone SE is not for those who want big devices and it doesn’t have to be, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus fill that part of the market. But when looking at the competition there is not another affordable small screen device that is also powerful. You see a lot of cheap Android phones enter the market on an almost daily basis, devices from Samsung and LG that don’t really give the customer anything as good.

Apple on the other hand doesn’t do that, when they put something out it is a good device that can excel at many things. They have been calling the iPhone SE the most powerful 4-inch smartphone ever and this is true. The iPhone SE has an awesome design and I highly suggest the Rose Gold model. It has a sharp 4-inch Retina Display paired with the powerful combination of the A9 and M9 chips. The back of the device has the best camera on the market, which is the 12 megapixel iSight setup.

Another key note is that the iPhone SE is pretty affordable, if you use the iPhone Upgrade Program from Apple, you can get the 16GB model at $14.00 a month or the 64GB model at $16.00 a month. Off contract the iPhone SE comes in at $399 for the 16GB model and $499 for the 64GB model. If you want a smaller screened phone, or a first time smartphone, or if you want an affordable yet powerful option you should definitely look at the iPhone SE.


Plus, if you are looking for a solid case, the Apple Leather Case for the iPhone SE is the one. It is made out of a premium leather and pairs nicely with the design of the device. It comes in a choice of Midnight Blue or Black, both look very nice. It has a smooth feel to the case it self and has cutouts for the camera and the power button. It is also lightweight yet it manages to provide protection for the iPhone SE.