From the front, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Apple had re-released an identical SE. Although the screen size has increased since 2016 (from 4 inches to 4.7 inches), the camera and speaker are in the same classic location.
However, once you start to inspect the device, you’ll see that it has lost its boxy edges and instead has a cleaner, rounded look. It has a durable glass back and an aluminium chassis.
The new SE screen size is much smaller than some of its cousins; for example, the iPhone 11 Pro Max has a huge 6.5 inches of screen space, making it just over a third bigger than the new SE. However, for some that is a welcome change to the trend we have seen in recent handsets, making everything on the new SE a simple thumb-stretch away rather than a two-handed task.
The new iPhone SE comes in three colours:
- (PRODUCT) RED
Although there aren’t many to choose from, we like the simplicity. Apple has added a nice touch and decided to contribute to the Global Fund to combat COVID-19 with every (PRODUCT)RED iPhone purchased.
Although there are only 2 cameras on the new SE rather than the 4 on some of the iPhone 11 models, they’re still pretty powerful.
The advanced system allows you to take pictures in Portrait mode, which artfully blurs the background and focuses the frame on you. The next-generation Smart HDR and True Tone also recognises faces and intelligently changes the highlights, shadows and contours to capture and more natural-looking picture.
There are 6 studio-quality effects to choose from in Portrait Lighting:
- Studio light
- Natural light
- Contour light
- Stage light mono
- Stage light
- High-key light mono
There is also a Depth Control slider which allows you to blur the background as little or as much as you like before and after you take the photo.
The iPhone SE captures videos in 4K and the extended dynamic range adds more depth to highlights and shadows.
Apple has also introduced QuickTake which allows you to start recording video by just holding down the shutter. The name seems like a nod from Apple to its past, when they released their digital camera in 1994, which was then discontinued 3 years later in 1997.
The new Apple iPhone also captures sound in stereo, creating a surround-sound experience for videos.
The iPhone SE uses wireless charging, so you can set it down or connect to a 18W fast-charge adapter that will get your new device from 0% to 50% in just 30 minutes.
While fast wireless charging is useful and impressive, it is starting to become the norm with most new phones including the Samsung Galaxy S20 range, Google Pixel 3 and 4 and all iPhones since the iPhone 8.
The battery capacity is 1821 mAH, so you can watch up to 13 hours of video on a single charge; but this has not changed since the original SE and iPhone 7, 8 and X. When you compare that to the 20 hours of playback that the iPhone 11 Pro Max can provide, you start to see where how the phone is so affordable.
It sounds like you will be able to get a generic day’s use out of the new iPhone SE, but if you start doing any gaming or streaming, you may find it won’t last…
Apple’s new affordable handset uses Touch ID to securely unlock your device, sign-in to apps and use Apple Pay.
No fingerprints are stored on the Cloud – just the device. Apple have also ensured that their apps provide you with the best privacy:
Maps – doesn’t associate your data with your Apple ID and won’t keep track of where you’ve been
Safari – intelligent tracking prevention helps stop advertisers that follow you from site to site
iMessages – all messages sent are encrypted, and Apple cannot read your messages as they’re being sent.
Siri – your Apple ID isn’t connected to Siri and all requests are associate with a random identifier.
Wallet – Your card numbers are hidden from Apple, and they don’t keep transaction info that can be tied back to you.
The iPhone SE chip has had a massive upgrade from the A9 back in 2016, to the A13 Bionic – the chip currently used in the iPhone 11 Pro. Apple claims that the A13 is the fastest ever chip in a smartphone, so it’s great for playing games or using the AR tool.
Augmented Reality lets you measure real world objects which allows you to do things like see how furniture looks in your home and try on glasses online.
The new 2020 SE has replaced the 16gb and 64gb storage of the old SE with 3 options up to 256gb, although that takes the price up to £569.
Faster WiFi and mobile data with Wi-Fi 6 and 4G LTE Advanced – that means faster download speeds whether you’re on a network or not.
The iPhone SE 2020 also allows dual SIMs, so that means you can have 2 numbers on 1 phone.
The new iPhone SE starts at just £419 when you buy direct from Apple, but it can go up to £569 if you choose the 256gb model.
If you buy directly from Apple, you can choose to pay monthly if you’d prefer, and that varies from £16.99 to £22.99 for 24 months.
There is no price difference in the colours, even the (PRODUCT)RED version which donates directly to the Global Fund to combat COVID-19.
What our technicians think
We asked what our in-house repair team thinks of the new iPhone SE, and they had this to say:
“The spec of the new device, which is updated to match the current iPhone 11 lines in terms of speed and capability makes this a promising option for those who are looking to upgrade their older iPhone devices, or want to move into using Apple devices but don’t want to spend a lot of money on their upgrade, or even on a phone outright.”
“The screen has been improved as well to increase the pixel density, resulting in a much nicer quality image from the screen the iPhone 8 had. It also has a much better set of cameras – rivalling what an iPhone XR has.”
“Overall, it appears none or very few of the parts have been reused. Most parts should be replaceable but if the touch ID cable is damaged, it will likely mean the phone is irreparable still, as it is with all other phones that have Touch ID.”
“I think this is probably Apple’s best value phone in quite a few years. The combination of the specs that have been put into this phone make it a great value device as many of the specs compare with other phones from Apple’s higher end phones, and I would imagine the price point will tempt a lot of customers who buy phones at lower price points to move to Apple, or finally upgrade from older phones where Apple hasn’t put out a “budget” device since 2016 with the original iPhone SE. It is difficult to compare Android and Apple directly as because they run different operating systems, the hardware comparison is not so clear. However, given that a lot of the more noticeable features e.g. camera are so far improved from the iphone 8, this phone definitely will hold up against other options in the budget range of phones.”