It’s probably not a secret at this point that a number of people were disappointed when Apple seemed to move away from the 4” form factor with the iPhone 6. It turns out that there’s a sizeable market for a smaller iPhone, so rather than letting the 4” size die away quietly Apple has introduced the 4” iPhone SE for those that want a smaller iPhone without having to buy something that is relatively out of date.

In the hand, the iPhone SE basically feels identical to the iPhone 5s. The design is pretty much the same with its lack of camera hump and sharp lines, but rather than polished chamfered edges Apple has elected to keep the chamfer sand-blasted matte. The weight of the phone is also noticeably less than the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6s, which is due to the lack of 3D Touch and the smaller size of the device. The display also looks to be quite similar to the iPhone 5s.

Other than this, I don’t really have a lot to say because it feels almost exactly like an iPhone 6s otherwise. As a heavy 3D Touch user, the lack of 3D Touch is noticeable, especially when playing back Live Photos. But other than that performance is similarly fast and I didn’t see any obvious problems, however many of these under the hood changes are going to be quite difficult to notice in the space of a few minutes as they’re quite subtle.

Although not quite in the realm of a hands-on, the main area of note here is the price as Apple has basically released a cheaper version of the iPhone 6s in a smaller size. In developing countries it seems that the cheaper iPhones are often the most popular, so it’s interesting to see how Apple has effectively upped the value of this version of the iPhone in a very big way. To get close to the 399 USD price point of the new iPhone SE, previously you had to get a phone 2 generations old with a relatively outdated SoC, so it’s impressive to see that now for the same price you can get something that has the latest and greatest in almost every way save for modem and size.

It’s also worth noting that Apple is basically completely uncontested in this part of the market. Although there are a lot of budget phones out there using 4" screens to hit their respective price point, Apple seems to be the only OEM still playing in the 4” display size space for high-end phones. There are a few Android OEMs trying to keep phones at the 4.5-4.7” segment (i.e. iPhone 6s size) with similarly high-end specs, but no Android OEM is trying to sell a 4” phone with high-end hardware. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of effects this has on sales, although I’m not entirely sure that Android OEMs are going to be following Apple’s lead here as a smaller device makes battery efficiency more critical due to scaling effects.

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  • Wheaties88 - Monday, March 21, 2016 - link

    This phone takes Live Photos but doesn't have 3D Touch. Does anyone know how you activate the Live Photo? Just a play button or what?
  • whiteiphoneproblems - Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - link

  • swamy035 - Monday, March 21, 2016 - link

    Sony must be kicking themselves hard for not putting X6 compact this season and me personally unhappy with that.

    I would have loved X6 compact with pure Android or at least root unlocked. I simply love my 1st gen moto x though underperforming the screen to body ratio is superb. Hope lenovo makes use of the 1st gen body n fits sd820 underneath - highly unlikely though.

    Apple - thanks for being reasonable with SE pricing, more value for money iPhone.
  • Aritra Ghatak - Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - link
  • Aritra Ghatak - Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - link

    The iPhone SE is niche in itself. But if Apple is trying to capture developing markets, I don't think it to be an ideal bet. I am from India and the pricing of some popular devices, all in INR:
    1) iPhone 5s 16 GB @ INR 18000
    2) Nexus 5X 16 GB @ INR 22000
    3) Moto X Style 16 GB @ INR 27000
    4) LG G4/ Galaxy S6/ iPhone 6 @ INR 33000
    5) Nexus 6P @ INR 39000
    7) iPhone 6s 16 GB @ INR 42000
    The talks are that iPhone SE shall be launched at 39000 INR. I don't think the SE stands a chance here. People would rather get a 6s, the price are close enough!
  • serendip - Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - link

    There's still a market for small high-end phones and I'm glad Apple made this. It'll also sell well as a cheap iPhone, at $399 unlocked it's a lot cheaper than a 6S. You can expect Shenzhen hackers to offer a cheap
  • serendip - Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - link

    There's still a market for small high-end phones and I'm glad Apple made this. It'll also sell well as a cheap iPhone, at $399 unlocked it's a lot cheaper than a 6S. You can expect Shenzhen hackers to offer a cheap 128 GB module swap for it soon ;)

    I guess small phones work well for people who mainly use social media and chat. A big 5.5" device works better a as a pocket do-everything computer. Now I'm waiting for Sony to release a successor to the monster Z Ultra...
  • LiverpoolFC5903 - Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - link

    Still too expensive for the Asian market to be honest. In India it is available for closer to 600 USD as opposed to 400, which beats the whole point of this phone.

    Might do well in the US and Europe,especially with Women.

    RAM is not mentioned at all?
  • serendip - Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - link

    Too expensive for India due to import duties and all that. Funny that in China, the SE starts at RMB 3288 or USD 530 - a bit more expensive than US prices but still a lot cheaper than a 6S' starting price of RMB 5288.

    And they're all made in China. Ah, the madness of global manufacturing and trade regulations. Contrast that with a Xiaomi's Mi 5 flagship which starts at RMB 1999.
  • watzupken - Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - link

    I actually feel that 4.6 to 4.7 inch strikes a good balance between the ease of use vs right screen size.

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