Hands-On With the New Low-Cost 2020 iPhone SE

The iPhone SE had its official launch day today, with the first orders arriving to customers this morning. We picked up one of the new (PRODUCT)RED ‌iPhone SE‌ models and checked out the design and features in our latest YouTube video, which is worth watching if you're thinking of making an upgrade from an older iPhone.



Despite the "‌iPhone SE‌" name that hails back to the original ‌iPhone SE‌ that was released in 2016, the new ‌iPhone SE‌ looks identical to an ‌iPhone‌ 8, which means it has a larger 4.7-inch display than the 4-inch display included with the original SE.

iphonesehandson
At 4.7 inches, the ‌iPhone SE‌ is now Apple's smallest ‌iPhone‌, which may be a disappointment to some users who preferred the 4-inch form factor. The ‌iPhone SE‌'s design is one that Apple first introduced in 2014 with the ‌iPhone‌ 6, so this is a six-year-old form factor, and compared to newer iPhones, it's dated, but Apple has added some design tweaks to make it seem fresher.

Like the ‌iPhone‌ 8, the ‌iPhone SE‌ is made from two panes of glass sandwiching an aluminum frame. The all-glass design allows for wireless charging, but it does make the phone more vulnerable to drops than earlier iPhones that had aluminum backs.

iphonesefront
Design wise, the ‌iPhone SE‌ has thick top and bottom bezels, with all models featuring a black face plate that minimizes the bezel design better than the white face of some prior models. There's a Touch ID Home button, and along with being Apple's smallest ‌iPhone‌, the ‌iPhone SE‌ is also the only ‌iPhone‌ with ‌Touch ID‌ in the current lineup.

iphoneseandiphone8

‌iPhone SE‌ vs. ‌iPhone‌ 8
Since it's the only ‌iPhone‌ with ‌Touch ID‌, it's the ‌iPhone‌ of choice for people who just don't like Face ID, and for those who want the familiarity of the biometric authentication method that they've used for years now.

iphonesefrontcloseup
Like its successors, the ‌iPhone SE‌ has no headphone jack and it does away with 3D Touch, adopting the Haptic Touch used in the newer ‌iPhone‌ models. With the loss of these features, though, it gains Qi-based wireless charging capabilities and fast charging, allowing it to charge from 0 to 50 percent in 30 minutes with an 18W+ power adapter and a USB-C to Lightning cable.

iphoneseand11pro
The new ‌iPhone SE‌ also has one of the best features from Apple's flagship devices - the A13 Bionic chip. It's the fastest chip ever in an ‌iPhone‌, and it puts the ‌iPhone‌'s CPU and GPU power on par with Apple's much more expensive iPhones. There's 3GB RAM in the ‌iPhone SE‌, and the base model starts at 64GB, way up from the 16GB starting storage of some of Apple's older devices. For an extra $50, 128GB of storage is available, and there's also a 256GB storage tier for those who have a lot of photos or music.

When it comes to the camera, it's a little confusing. Apple isn't using hardware from the ‌iPhone‌ 11, and the SE appears to have the same single-lens camera as the ‌iPhone‌ 8, but with software improvements and computational photography techniques added by the A13 along with hardware tweaks, the ‌iPhone SE‌ takes better pictures than the ‌iPhone‌ 8 (and all of the older iPhones).

iphonesecamera
It has Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting capabilities for both the front and rear-facing cameras despite the lack of multiple lenses, plus it has Smart HDR, optical image stabilization, and other built-in software features that put out some crisp, vivid images that are close to on par with the flagship iPhones.

iphoneseportraitmode
Photos aren't as good as the photos you get with an ‌iPhone‌ 11 or 11 Pro because there's not as much versatility in focal length and there is no support for Night Mode. The ‌iPhone SE‌ struggles more in low and ultra-low lighting conditions compared to Apple's pricier iPhones.

When it comes to video, the ‌iPhone SE‌ can record 4K video at 60 fps, which is a killer feature in a smartphone at this price point. Videos recorded with the ‌iPhone SE‌ look great. We'll be doing an in-depth comparison between the cameras of the ‌iPhone SE‌, ‌iPhone‌ 8, and ‌iPhone‌ 11, so make sure to stay tuned to MacRumors for that video.

iphoneseback
The ‌iPhone SE‌ sports Gigabit LTE (on par with ‌iPhone‌ 11) and WiFi 6 support, and with the A13 chip, this is a phone that Apple has designed to work well for several years to come. It will get software updates right alongside the 2019 flagship models, and for those who have held on to an ‌iPhone‌ 6 or 6s for years, the ‌iPhone SE‌ is positioned to last just as long.

There are no bells and whistles with the ‌iPhone SE‌, and it has an outdated design with ‌Touch ID‌, thick bezels, and single-lens camera, but it is a super fast meat-and-potatoes smartphone that's an incredible deal at $399. Have you picked up an ‌iPhone SE‌? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundup: iPhone SE
Buyer's Guide: iPhone SE (Buy Now)
Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

Seppentoni Avatar
32 months ago
I got mine this morning. It is a phone. It has a camera. Nice screen. I can make phone calls write texts and install some apps. great!

Carry on.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
code-m Avatar
32 months ago

So how are you FaceID fans liking that tech in the new era of face masks?
If wearing gloves how does TouchID work.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
now i see it Avatar
32 months ago
So how are you FaceID fans liking that tech in the new era of face masks?
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
calzon65 Avatar
32 months ago
New SE arrived today and replaced my old 6s. I miss not having the analog headset port ... but the new SE is a fantastic phone for the price. I think it will be a huge hit, especially with folks tired of $1,000+ smartphones.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NickName99 Avatar
32 months ago

Picked up two: one for me, and one for my GF. Can't wait to unbox and get it up and running since my X took a crap on me.
For a second I thought you were talking about your ex, not your X, I was like damn dude ?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Quicksilver867 Avatar
32 months ago
Pre-ordered one, and had it delivered to my friend's house as I wasn't home during the delivery window. Still haven't had the chance to pick it up from him.

I'm one of the holdouts clutching to TouchID, so this should work out for me. It's not what I truly want, which is a full-screen device with TouchID ability, but it's the closest I can get. A13+gigabit LTE+WiFi 6 are big selling points.

Looking forward to its improvements over the 7, and to the $120 once that 7's trade-in processes.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

apple watch ultra hammer test

YouTuber Tests Apple Watch Ultra Durability With a Hammer: Table Breaks Before the Watch

Sunday September 25, 2022 2:27 pm PDT by
A YouTuber has put Apple's claims for the durability of the Apple Watch Ultra to the test by putting it up against a drop test, a jar of nails, and repeated hits with a hammer to test the sapphire crystal protecting the display. TechRax, a channel popular for testing the durability of products, first tested the Apple Watch Ultra by dropping it from around four feet high. The Apple Watch...
tim cook spring loaded event

Six Major Products to Expect From Apple in 2023

Sunday September 25, 2022 10:57 am PDT by
As we approach the end of a busy product release season for Apple with only new iPads and Macs left to be announced over the next month or so, we're also setting our sights on 2023. Apple is rumored to have several major products in the pipeline for next year, including new Macs, a new HomePod, a VR/AR headset, and so much more. Other than new iPhones and Apple Watches, which are expected...
Tim Cook Apple Event

Gurman: New iPads and Macs May Be Announced Through Press Releases, No October Event

Sunday September 25, 2022 6:50 am PDT by
Apple may decide to release its remaining products for 2022, which include updated iPad Pro, Mac mini, and 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, through press releases on its website rather than a digital event, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman said that Apple is currently "likely to release its remaining 2022 products via press releases,...
AirPods Max 2022 Colors

Ten Things AirPods Pro 2 Tell Us About AirPods Max 2

Saturday September 24, 2022 1:00 am PDT by
Upon the release of the second-generation AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max became the oldest current-generation AirPods product still in Apple's lineup. Introducing several new features like Adaptive Transparency and the H2 chip, the second-generation AirPods Pro may provide some of the best indications yet of what to expect from the second-generation AirPods Max. Almost two years later, rumors...
iPhone 14 Pro Sports Scores Dynamic Island

iPhone 14 Pro Features Live Sports Scores in Dynamic Island on iOS 16.1

Monday September 26, 2022 7:52 am PDT by
Earlier this month, Apple announced that iOS 16.1 will enable a new Live Activities feature that allows iPhone users to stay on top of things that are happening in real time, such as a sports game or a food delivery order, right from the Lock Screen. On the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, Live Activities also integrate with the Dynamic Island. Premier League match in Dynamic Island via Paul Bradford ...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Some iOS 16 Users Continue to Face Unaddressed Bugs and Battery Drain Two Weeks After Launch

Monday September 26, 2022 7:34 am PDT by
Today marks exactly two weeks since Apple released iOS 16 to the public. Besides the personalized Lock Screen, major changes in Messages, and new features in Maps, the update has also seen its fair share of bugs, performance problems, battery drain, and more. After major iOS updates, it's normal for some users to report having issues with the new update, but such reports usually subside in...
iPhone 14 Pros in Hand Black Background Feature

Verizon iPhone 14 Pro Customers Reporting Cellular Connection Issues

Monday September 26, 2022 6:23 am PDT by
iPhone 14 Pro customers on the Verizon network in the U.S. are reporting issues with slow and unreliable 5G cellular connections and calls randomly dropping. Several threads on Reddit (1,2,3) and the MacRumors forums chronicle issues faced by Verizon customers and Apple's latest iPhone. According to user reports, signal strength on the iPhone 14 Pro is unreliable and weak, while other...
iphone 14 pro max deep purple

iPhone 15 'Ultra' Could Replace Pro Max Model Next Year

Sunday September 25, 2022 7:02 am PDT by
Apple is gearing up to possibly replace its "Pro Max" iPhone with an all-new "Ultra" iPhone 15 model next year, reliable Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman said today. Writing in his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman said that for the iPhone 15, Apple is planning a revamped design alongside USB-C and a potential name change. Apple could replace its "Pro Max" branding, which it started to use...
apple watch ultra deuglify 1

Apple Watch Ultra User Mods Titanium Casing to 'Deuglify' Design

Tuesday September 27, 2022 8:05 am PDT by
An Apple Watch Ultra user has modified their new device's casing to add a brushed finish and remove the orange color of the Action Button in an effort to make it more visually appealing. The Apple Watch Ultra offers the first complete redesign of the Apple Watch since the product line's announcement in 2014, and while the design has been met with praise from many users, some have criticized...