Apple is separating the new smartphones into its usual low-cost versus high-cost categories, with big differences between the two models coming down to the camera, display, and battery life.
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What It's Like Using an iPhone SE in 2019
Every time Apple restocks the clearance site, available iPhone SE models go quick, suggesting there's still quite a lot of interest in the 4-inch device. We recently picked up an iPhone SE to see just what it's like using one in 2019.
The iPhone SE was Apple's last 4-inch iPhone, and compared to a 5.8-inch iPhone X, a 6.1-inch iPhone XR, or a 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max, it's tiny. Coming from one of these phones to the iPhone SE almost makes the iPhone SE feel like a toy.
On the plus side, it's so small and light that it's easy to use one handed, something you can't necessarily do with Apple's biggest iPhones. With its aluminum backing, the iPhone SE is more durable than Apple's new all-glass smartphones.
The iPhone SE pre-dates Face ID, of course, so it's using a Touch ID Home button, which is great for those who continue to prefer fingerprint sensors to facial recognition.
There's also a headphone jack, which has been eliminated from all current iPhones (and the most recent iPad Pro models), and it has separate volume up and down buttons along with a power button at the top of the device instead of a side button.
Apple released the iPhone SE in 2016, so it's using three-year-old hardware. It has an A9 processor, which was also used in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus back in 2015, along with 2GB RAM (vs. 3 in the XR and 4 in the XS).
You might think it'd be noticeably slower than newer iPhones, but, surprisingly, for built-in apps it's speedy. When using Mail, Messages, Calendar, FaceTime, and other similar built-in apps, the iPhone SE is as speedy as 2018 iPhones.
It's not, however, able to hold up when using apps built for newer iPhones with more modern processors, nor does it have the same augmented reality capabilities. The camera is fine and is the same camera in the iPhone 6s, but it's lacking the improvements made over the last three years.
If you don't care about camera quality, prefer a smaller screen, and don't need to use processor-intensive apps and games, the iPhone SE is a compact, easy-to-hold smartphone that still holds up even in 2019.
Apple's clearance site continues to have iPhone SE models in stock that are unlocked, but ship with Verizon and T-Mobile SIMs. The iPhone SE with 32GB of storage is priced at $249, while the iPhone SE with 128GB of storage is available for $299.
Ahead of when the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR were released, there were some rumors suggesting Apple was working on a second-generation version of the iPhone SE 2.
Some of that information was conflated with iPhone XR rumors, though, and since the 2018 devices launched, we've heard no more about another 4-inch iPhone except for some chatter suggesting Apple has nixed all plans for a new iPhone SE.
At this point in time, it looks like the iPhone SE will continue to be the last 4-inch device available from Apple.