iPhone SE reviews: A terrific little phone that is worth buying
Reviewers are impressed with the power, speed and battery life of Apple’s new 4-inch iPhone SE. It’s a great alternative for folks that don’t like larger iPhones.
Eye on Apple
By Jim Lynch, CIO
Apple caught the attention of many users and critics when it announced the new 4-inch iPhone SE. And now reviews have started to come in from around the web. So far Apple’s new smaller iPhone has been getting mostly rave reviews from critics. The consensus seems to be that it offers a great deal of power in a tiny package.
Read on to see what some of the critics are saying about the iPhone SE.
The Daily Mail: A familiar old friend that could be the perfect starter phone
Mark Prigg at the Daily Mail notes that the iPhone SE feels a bit retro but still has much to offer users:
Overall, the iPhone SE is a fascinating product, and one destined to do incredibly well – in certain markets.
It really hits a sweetspot in the Apple lineup of people who perhaps don’t want, or can’t afford a flagship handset – or are looking for a second backup phone.
It may seem like a step back, and a ‘retro’ handset – but the SE could be the sleeper hit of the iPhone range, and bring millions of new users who previously haven’t wanted to commit to an expensive flagship handset.
I think it could also become a kids favourite – the low cost, ease of use and the fact parents will probably have a lot of accessories already make it an ideal starter phone.
The Wall Street Journal: Smaller Gets Smarter With Better Battery Life to Boot
Geoffrey A. Fowler at the Wall Street Journal was impressed with the iPhone SE’s battery life:
The standout news is battery life. Unlike many other recent Apple products, the iPhone SE’s is a significant improvement over its predecessors’. In my lab stress test, which cycles through websites with uniform screen brightness, the SE lasted 10 hours—more than two hours longer than both the iPhone 6s and iPhone 5s, and nearly three hours longer than the Galaxy S7.
The compromise you must accept for that performance is the SE’s screen, which is not only smaller but also packs in fewer pixels and noticeably less contrast than the iPhone 6s. It also isn’t pressure sensitive, so it can’t do Apple’s 3D Touch trick of popping up menus with a hard press of your finger.
On most important functions, the iPhone SE doesn’t disappoint. Its A9 processor, exactly the same one that’s in the iPhone 6s, zips through apps and the most graphically challenging mobile games. (By a test called GeekBench, it’s about 70% faster than the 5s.)
I’m happy to see the iPhone SE, partly because I think that the world needs a small phone. A selection of them, truthfully. This is a mini, yet mighty, start.
Rene Ritchie at iMore noticed how powerful the iPhone SE is:
iPhone SE is powered by Apple’s custom A9 system-on-a-chip. It’s a screaming fast 1.85 GHz, 64-bit, dual-core processor with an absolutely kick-apps Imagination PowerVR Series 7XT graphics engine and 2 GB of memory. All that silicon behind so few pixels results in what can only be likened to an F1 racecar. Or maybe a Superleggera or 911R… I digress.
Thanks to the integrated M9 coprocessor, you also get all the same low-power motion sensing as you do on the iPhones 6s, as well as “Hey Siri” even while unplugged. That makes it super convenient to control your iPhone SE simply with the power of your voice.
Apple claims 14 hours of talk time for iPhone SE, along with up to 13 hours of internet and video playback, 50 hours of audio, and 10 days of standby. It’s always hard to test that early on, since a fresh install on a fresh device isn’t reflective of longer-term use, and restoring from backup causes significant radio and processor overhead as everything gets re-downloaded and re-indexed.
For some, the harder edges might come off as old-fashioned in the age of curvier, more uniform iPhones. For others, though, this design is iconic in the tradition of Leica or Braun. Either way, iPhone SE is as easy to hold and use one-handed as ever. It slots right into my palm — even as my thumb easily arcs from corner to corner.
The Independent: Apple gently refines its phone to make the best small handset in the world
David Phelan at The Independent thinks that small is beautiful and noted how well the iPhone SE plays games:
…most of the oomph and many of the features of the latest handsets are available in this smaller version. The processor is the A9, identical to the 6s and 6s Plus. This is a 64-bit processor with its own motion coprocessor, the M9, designed to record your steps, and measure activity. Both are proficient pieces of silicon, with games graphics, for instance, looking especially good. Games play as fast and as colourfully as they do on the bigger-screened 6s and 6s Plus.
Using the keyboard on the SE was a learning curve after the expansiveness of the 6s Plus. It’s the perfect size for the screen but smaller than I have been used to. By the way, things got much better when I installed the brilliant Swiftkey which with its drag-your-finger-from-one-key-to-the-other Swiftkey Flow setting, made typing a breeze.
Apple claims this is the most powerful four-inch screened phone anywhere, and it’s hard to disagree (even if part of the reason for that is the company’s rivals have been focusing near-exclusively on phones with a bigger display). The styling is compelling, a gentle refinement of an already elegant design.
And much of the rest is the same tech that you’ll find in a handset like the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus – and they’re both much pricier. If small is beautiful as far as you’re concerned, this is a highly effective, appealing smartphone at a great price.
As you can tell from the reviews above, the critics mostly liked the iPhone SE. Their reactions aren’t really a surprise to me, given how well designed the iPhone SE is, and I suspect we’ll be seeing much of the same commentary from users once they start getting their phones.
Apple seems to have yet another hit on its hands with the iPhone SE.
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